ST. PAUL - The 23rd edition of the annual St. Paul and District Agricultural Society’s high school rodeo has been given the green light to go ahead with the event this week.
Organizer Brian Pederson confirmed Friday evening he had finally received the much anticipated authorization letter from Alberta Health Services to proceed late in the day.
Pederson said the organization will have to toe the line and follow strict public health orders, including the fact that no spectators will be permitted into the Ag. Corral other than coaches for the competitors and the volunteers involved in the rodeo.
“It’s a real start in the right direction for rodeo to happen,” he said. “It’s not the best scenario for adult rodeo, because they compete for the money and the entry fees so you need gate attendance to make that pay.”
However, the high school athletes are competing for points only. Competitors will come from Calgary north to the Lakeland area, which is the north end of the of the central District 2 competition zone. The top 10 in all three districts qualify for the Alberta finals. After that, the next step for the cream of the crop is the Canadian finals followed by an opportunity to compete internationally.
“It is what they call a ‘children’s sport’ and that is the only reason we are getting this ability to do this. You’re never competing against another person, like contact sports – hockey, football. You’re competing against an animal, so you are really not subjecting yourself to COVID, other than the fact you’re getting together at an event.”
Participants are required to wear masks at all times, except when they are actually competing.
“We are limited to how many people we can have in the building, so we have to be very careful how we do this as we will be being watched by AHS, there’s no doubt about that.”
The junior event goes Friday with about 75 youth in Grades 6 to 8 competing involving 241 runs in everything from bareback riding, saddle bronc and junior bull riding – these riding events are all done on steers – to pole bending, goat-tying, barrel racing, team roping and ribbon roping among others.
“For the boys there’s also what they call chute-dogging – steer-wrestling a steer out of the bucking chute, basically.”
The 135 senior high rodeo athletes, Grade 9 to 12, will then compete on Saturday and Sunday with 296 runs occurring over the two days. All the traditional rodeo events including bull riding bareback and saddle bronc riding are on the run list. Pole bending, barrel racing, goat-tying and break-away roping are also included.
While testing isn’t a requirement to compete, Pederson said everyone will have to attest to being in good health.
“If you’re sick, don’t come.”