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Bonnyville rodeo and chuckwagons ready to race

This year's edition of the Bonnyville Pro Rodeo and Chuckwagon Races will take over the rodeo grounds June 6-9, offering the chance for the community to be entertained through four days of action.
Action from last year's chuckwagon races.

BONNYVILLE - This year's edition of the Bonnyville Pro Rodeo and Chuckwagon Races will take over the rodeo grounds June 6-9, offering the chance for the community to be entertained through four days of action and fun.

A total of 40 wagons are expected to begin arriving in the community early in the week, which is “probably the most wagons we’ve had," says Corey Dows, a member and organizer with the Bonnyville Ag Society.

This year, the rodeo portion of the weekend will be held over three days instead of two. On Thursday, wagon races will begin at 6 p.m., with the rodeo set to take place after.

On Friday, the fun will start a bit earlier with the annual chili cook-off at 50th Street and 50th Avenue, hosted by the Bonnyville Chamber of Commerce, from noon to 2 p.m. Then, races will get underway at 6 p.m., with the rodeo once again set to take place after. A dance will round off the night on Friday with live music from the Mainstreet Band.

On Saturday, a pancake breakfast will take place at the rodeo grounds from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., kicking off another busy day. This time, the rodeo will start at 1 p.m., followed by the wagon races at 6 p.m., and another dance at 9 p.m. Live music on Saturday night will be performed by Fox & Hounds featuring Morgan Klaiber.

Sunday wagon races will take place at 2 p.m, wrapping up the weekend of action.

A kick off to the summer

Organizers in Bonnyville believe the event is a popular one because it kicks off the summer months, and offers a chance for people to gather as a community - along with the obvious draw of entertainment.

“This is a chuckwagon town," says Ag Society president Richard Procinski.

Dows and Procinski agree that the event is good for the surrounding agricultural community - and the community as a whole.

A Wednesday night kick-off party is also scheduled to take place this year, giving residents one more chance to visit and take in the atmosphere. 

Up to 100 volunteers will be helping ensure the rodeo and races run smoothly each day, says Dows. And while it is a big job, it is worth the effort.

The influx of people to the community means restaurants and retail businesses are busier and benefit economically. The event also helps "showcase our community," says Dows.

"Any event, such as the pro rodeo, helps enhance the overall economic development of our community. It brings people to town who then stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants and they get to enjoy the many amenities that Bonnyville has to offer," says Serina Parsons, executive director with the Bonnyville & District Chamber of Commerce.

She adds, the rodeo and chuckwagon races "are more than just sports events - they are a celebration of Alberta's unique identity and a catalyst for community development and cohesion. Bonnyville is a great community and these events help us showcase that."

Most-loved event

Speaking specifically about the chili cook-off scheduled for Thursday, Parsons says the chili cook-off is one of the organization's "most loved events."

"It combines team building with community connections and is a great way to kick off the rodeo and summer season," says Parsons, adding, every year there is growth in the number of attendees and registrations.

"The chili cook-off has been a community staple for over 15 years and it is a great way to showcase our local businesses to those people who come to Bonnyville from out of town for the rodeo," says Parsons. The partnership between the Bonnyville Ag Society and the Chamber "helps grow community spirit and provides a welcoming atmosphere for those who come to town for the rodeo."

When asked what his favourite part of the weekend is, Procinski says when he looks up at the stands - full of people - and sees all the smiling faces, he knows it is worth the work, and even feels a sense of sadness as the event comes to an end. But, as the Sunday events wrap up, organizers know it's just a matter of months before the work begins for the 2025 event.

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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