Red Deer County is back in the rodeo sponsorship saddle.
After some debate, council agreed in a 5-2 vote to match the $50,000 the county provided Canadian Finals Rodeo organizers last year, its inaugural competition in Red Deer after being held in Edmonton for 44 years.
“I believe that Red Deer County is rodeo country, and I can’t see us giving less than the $50,000,” said Mayor Jim Wood.
Wood said the nationally televised event provides valuable advertising for the county, which gets a booth at the trade show as part of its sponsorship.
“What it does do is it identifies that Red Deer County is a place that’s open for business.”
Coun. Christine Moore was impressed by last year’s event, which she believes provided an even bigger economic boost than the Canada Winter Games in February.
“It really fits with Red Deer County and our roots,” said Moore. “I think this is a great investment for Red Deer County.”
Also supportive was Coun. Jean Bota, who said, “This is an amazing opportunity for us and I think we should take advantage of it.”
However, some on council felt it was time to rein in the county’s financial support.
Coun. Philip Massier said the county’s $50,000 donation last year was approved as a one-time grant to help the rodeo “get off on the right foot.
“I think our objective was met.”
Massier said the $50,000 CFR sponsorship was an “awfully big ask” considering there are several other rodeo events in central Alberta and 35 community halls that would also welcome funding.
“I cannot support a $50,000 yearly ask when it initially came as a one-off,” he said.
Coun. Richard Lorenz, who also voted against the contribution, said if council supports one rodeo, it would have to sponsor others as well.
Lorenz said there were many area businesses that would step up with sponsorships. One of the criticisms he heard of last year’s event was that there were not enough opportunities for businesses to get involved, he said.
This year’s CFR runs Oct. 29 to Nov. 3 at Westerner Park.