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Old friends and Young coming to LRA Showdown

Some familiar faces will be in attendance at this year's LRA finals.

ST. PAUL – Some very familiar faces will be out there in the midst of the action at the Lakeland Rodeo Association’s (LRA) 2033 Showdown this weekend, including some who have been at most of the LRA finals since the very first in 1979, and one who is currently sitting at the top of the standings in two events after this year’s 17 rodeos and the seven that went ahead in 2021 when COVID restrictions allowed.

Elk Point cowboy Austin Young sits at the top of the line in both Tie Down Roping and Team Roping Heeler lineups.

Young came first in the Tie Down at Kikino last weekend with a rapid 9.2 seconds, repeating his 2021 win at that location, and also placed first at Smoky Lake, Lamont and Wetaskiwin this year, along with firsts at Cloverlodge and Hardisty in 2021, and second at St. Paul last September, in the rodeo that for the first time ever, took over the Showdown weekend.

Team roping proved a little more challenging, but Young collected prize money at nine of this year’s rodeos, including a first in Hairy Hill, and at one in 2021. He also competed in Steer Wrestling, winning the Castor rodeo this year and placing second at both Tofield and Hardisty and third at the spring rodeo here in St. Paul.

Young is a third generation roper, following in the bootsteps of his grandfather, the late Larry Lorenson, and his dad, Charlie Young. Both Lorenson and Austin Young’s mother, Wendy Young, were among the original members of the LRA when it was formed in 1979, with Wendy later collecting a pair of Junior Barrel Racing championships in the 1980s.

Two faces that have been at almost every LRA finals since the very first was held at Saddle Lake on Sept. 14 to 16, 1979, are those of rodeo clown Richard ‘Ricky Ticky’ Wanchuk, and Lenny Lawes, who started out as the bull riding director and in more recent years has served as one of the judges.

Wanchuk has been delighting crowds for more than four decades with his antics, which over the years have ranged from performances involving tame skunks and exploded cowboy hats to cavorting around the arena in his fire truck with some major pyrotechnics, and has for most of those years, brought along a stuffed sidekick, first ‘Henry the Eighth' and now one with a striking resemblance to the Canadian prime minister.

Ricky Ticky is such a mainstay of the rodeo that he was named Cowboy of the Year in 2014.

He was assisted in the earliest performances by various local youngsters, and later by his brother, Tony ‘Two-chuk’, and his sons, and one of them, Kolby, is now a top Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) saddle bronc rider who competed at this year’s Calgary Stampede. Who will be assisting him this year, in everything from tossing candy and t-shirts into the crowds to his latest show-stopping hijinks, is anybody’s guess, but it’s sure to be fun.

See you all at Showdown 2022!