Red Deer is in for quite a ride as Canadian Finals Rodeo host city.
Former champion saddle bronc rider Ivan Daines was on the way back from the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver, Colo. when he heard the news.
“I was very excited and happy and pleased for Red Deer,” said Daines, who competed in rodeos for 21 years before hanging up his saddle in 1980. He was a world-class professional saddle bronc rider, who made a number of trips to the Canadian Finals and won the Canadian Saddle Bronc Championship twice.
“It’s a big deal,” he said, adding the event draws the best rodeo competitors from Canada and the U.S.
“I hope and I think we can handle it here,” he said. “It’s a big step for this area.”
Westerner Park, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association made the big announcement on Tuesday that the Canadian Finals Rodeo will be in Red Deer for the next 10 years.
The event is expected to produce $20 to $30 million in economic spinoffs.
Daines, who grew up in the Innisfail area and now lives in Red Deer, said he hopes the venue change will prove good to the sport as well as the Central Alberta economy.
“I’ve told people that whatever is best for rodeo is what I want,” he said.
Daines said he never thought Edmonton would lose the rodeo, which has been a mainstay at the Northlands Coliseum since 1974.
“It’s been so successful in Edmonton I can’t believe they’re letting it go,” he said. “It just amazes me.”
The event drew 90,000 people last year, he said and pumped tens of millions into the local economy.
Ponoka’s Blair Vold, whose family has been in the livestock business for more than a century, has been to many Canadian Finals Rodeos.
Vold said it’s unfortunate for Edmonton that they are losing the popular event.
“But their loss is your gain. It’s a big boost for Red Deer,” he said.
“I’ve been to it for quite a few years since it started in Edmonton and it really boosts that city. With people coming to town to buy cars and Christmas gifts it’s a big booster for the economy.”
Vold said the competition is top notch.
“You’re going to see the best in the world here. So, it’s pretty exciting if you want to see rodeo at its best.
“I think it’s going to be pretty entertaining and pretty good for Red Deer.”
The first Red Deer Canadian Finals Rodeo will run Oct. 30 to Nov. 4 at Westerner Park.