Doc Walker (Promotional photo.)

Doc Walker (Promotional photo.)

It’s good-bye hockey, hello rodeo for Red Deer’s Centrium

The Canadian Finals Rodeo starts Tuesday

Transforming Red Deer’s Centrium from a hockey rink to a dirt-covered Canadian Finals Rodeo ground doesn’t happen overnight.

It will take all weekend long to pull off this Herculean task — with crews working around the clock.

Abby Wallin, event delivery manager for Westerner Park, says the exhaustive process started when Friday night’s Red Deer Rebels game was over.

It will require staggered shifts of staff and volunteers working with ice chippers, mops, dump trucks and grit.

Lots and lots of gritty dirt.

The ice chipping began as soon as hockey fans left the Centrium.

Removing the ice took all night, with hot water applied to melt the freeze around the Rebels logo, which is actually printed on a cloth mesh that lies under the ice.

It must be removed carefully, so it doesn’t rip, Wallin adds.

By about 6 a.m. Saturday, truck drivers from Bettenson’s Sand and Gravel were ready to help shovel up and transport multiple loads of slush to a dump site outside on the Westerner Park grounds.

“That will be a three-hour job,” estimates Wallin.

“Then we’ll be mopping up and scrubbing the floor and sucking up any remaining water.”

Meanwhile, a crew will begin removing the east-end rink boards and all the Plexiglas off the rink, so a ring steel barrier can be erected.

“We’ll run the steel along the boards,” said Wallin, who expects this to be completed by about 10 p.m. on Saturday.

That’s when the trucks will return, loaded up with dirt that needs to be spread out across the Centrium floor. Soil will be dumped and shovelled all night long, until noon on Sunday, says Wallin.

Another crew will work until 4 p.m., creating the bucking shoots at one end of the Centrium and the timed event installation at the other end.

“Every second is utilized,” says Wallin, as sound equipment must be installed in the Centrium, as well as in the Parkland and Prairie pavilions, where the entertainment and presentation ceremonies will be held.

With help from 500-plus volunteers, everything should be in perfect order when the Canadian Finals Rodeo launches on Tuesday and runs to Sunday, Nov. 3.

This year, there’s more things to do outside of watching rodeo events, says Mike Olesen, who led the planning for the 2019 rodeo, and is also the incoming CEO of Westerner Park.

A free community concert series is planned, and Olesen said anyone can come and enjoy the music, not just rodeo ticketholders.

Cabaret concerts in the Parkland Pavilion feature Doc Walker (Tuesday), Bobby Wills (Wednesday), George Canyon (Thursday) and The Road Hammers (Friday).

The only ticketed concert, Corb Lund’s show on Saturday night, is already sold out.

Olesen says 55 free events will happen over six days, including rodeo athlete “hot stove” interview sessions, autograph sessions, the Ultimate Cowboy Challenge, stock dog and bucking horse futurity events, the Canadian Finals Breakaway, and the Extreme Cowboy Competition.

Along with the Rising Stars event this year is the mini chuckwagon challenge finals. There’s a trade show and pancake breakfasts for charity.

“It’s all about engaging the community with a premier event,” said Olesen, who believes the rodeo offers another chance “for Red Deer to celebrate itself and welcome more of the world here.”

He notes the event attracts fans and volunteers from as far as Australia, Mexico and Europe, as well as from all over Canada and the U.S.

More than 45,000 people are expected to attend the six-day event. The largest rodeo finals in Canada is anticipated to boost the local economy by more than $37 million, says Olesen.

Tickets have been “going strong,” he adds, but some are still available for the rodeo events from

More volunteers are also welcome. Please contact Westerner Park for more information.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Canadian Finals Rodeo


George Canyon ( image).

George Canyon ( image).

Just Posted

Alberta Health Services Logo
Rocky Mountain House emergency department temporarily closes overnight

Emergency department will be without a physician between May 12 and 13

St. Joseph High School Grade 12 student Denaisha Kraft has been granted an $80,000 scholarship from the University of Victoria. 
(Photo contributed)
St. Joseph High School student wins $80,000 scholarship

Denaisha Kraft received scholarship from University of Victoria

(File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer RCMP make significant drug bust in Highland Green

Red Deer RCMP seized a large quantity of illegal substances and weapons… Continue reading

FILE - Anita Alexander takes an early morning paddle on Lacombe Lake. She has appealed a decision to make the lake into a stormwater drainage catchment. (Photo contributed by Anita Alexander)
Environmental hearing set for Blackfalds’ stormwater drainage into Lacombe Lake

An Environmental Appeals Board hearing over an approval to drain stormwater from… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Sentries march off after a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of V-J Day and the end of the Second World War, at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. The Canadian Armed Forces is reporting minimal progress at the midway point of its 10-year drive to increase the number of women in uniform. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Military reports minimal progress in drive to add more women to the ranks

OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces is reporting minimal progress at the… Continue reading

Hassan Diab holds a news conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa Friday, February 7 , 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Canada must not extradite Diab regardless of coming French court decision: lawyer

OTTAWA — The Canadian government should not be part of any further… Continue reading

In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019 file photo, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, welcomes Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during official arrivals for a NATO leaders meeting at The Grove hotel and resort in Watford, Hertfordshire, England. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Francisco Seco
U.K. eyeing fall for start of detailed trade deal talks with Canada, minister says

OTTAWA — Britain’s trade minister says his country expects to kick-start talks… Continue reading

‘It is a gold mine:’ Builders warned of rising lumber thefts across Canada

The skyrocketing cost of lumber is fuelling a trend that has authorities… Continue reading

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Nunavut working to get Pfizer vaccine for territory’s teens

Nunavut’s chief public health officer says the government is working to get… Continue reading

A vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 at a hospital in Sofia, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, prior to the start of vaccination. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Valentina Petrova
Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) celebrates with defenseman Victor Hedman (77) after the team defeated the Dallas Stars during an NHL hockey game Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
Analysis: McDavid NHL’s MVP front-runner in condensed season

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid has 100-plus point season

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) makes a save as Maple Leafs defenceman TJ Brodie (78) and Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli (73) look for the rebound during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday, May 8, 2021. The Leafs and the Canadiens will meet in the playoffs for the first time in 42 years when the 2020-21 NHL post-season gets underway.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Most Read