Rising COVID-19 cases in Alberta aren’t stopping the “No More Lockdowns” Rodeo/rally from going ahead as planned this weekend — but no longer in the Town of Bowden.
The Bowden Agricultural Society has notified Northcott Rodeo Inc. that the event that’s set to flout provincial health regulations is no longer welcome on its rodeo grounds.
Bowden’s Mayor Robb Stuart expressed some relief on Friday that the controversial rodeo is no longer the town’s concern.
While the rodeo crowd could have been good for town businesses, Stuart indicated a lot of viral spread could have resulted, as the rodeo site can hold 800 to 900 people.
The Bowden Agricultural Society was contacted by Alberta Health Services about this event and the matter of liability was discussed, said society president, Keith Bailey.
“We decided it would be in our best interest if the event wasn’t held (at the rodeo grounds),” Bailey added.
Northcott Rodeo has instead been scouting around for private properties for the rodeo, which is now billed as just a two-day event, on Saturday and Sunday, instead of a former Friday through Sunday schedule.
The group promised to post a location later on Friday, and did not respond to a message from the Advocate asking for comment.
But this statement was posted on the Northcott Rodeo Inc. Facebook page: “We will not stand by idly and watch as, not only our businesses but also our western heritage and more importantly, our basic human rights, are ripped out of existence by the tyrannical beings of our current world.”
The Foothills Cowboys Association and Wildrose Rodeo Association recently issued a joint statement to distance themselves from the No More Lockdown Rodeo Rally.
“There has been a lot of attention around this event and if (Alberta Health Services) finds such event is not in accordance with government mandates and restrictions, the backlash could be very detrimental to our organizations,” reads the statement from both groups.
Despite COVID cases topping 2,000 a day in Alberta and tighter provincial restrictions on outdoor events (stipulations are outdoor gatherings should be no more than 10 people), more than 250 people ‘liked’ a post stating the rodeo is still going ahead.
Many commenting on their excitement to attend. “Woohoo, finally life can start again,” posted a user.
Others who saw the Northcott Rodeo Inc. Facebook page were unimpressed. Shaun Hofer said he’s dismayed by these plans, which show a “complete disregard” for pandemic health protocols, and run counter to the efforts made by most responsible Albertans to stay home or physically distance in the workplace.