Ponoka’s Wacey Finkbeiner hangs on for eight at the Canadian Finals Rodeo at the Centrium. (File photo by Advocate Staff)

Westerner Park looking for more rodeo cash

Canadian Finals Rodeo a success but more provincial support sought

Hosting the Canadian Finals Rodeo was a thrilling ride for Westerner Park.

However, despite injecting an estimated $37 million into the area’s economy, the nation’s premiere rodeo left the host society nursing some financial saddle sores. The not-for-profit Westerner Park estimated earlier this year it lost about $145,000 on the CFR — much of it connected with the first-time costs of hosting an event that spent the last 44 years in Edmonton.

Undeterred, CFR organizers are planning an even bigger event this year and have gone to the province for additional funding to keep the event in the black.

“We’re trying to provide a lot more than we did last year,” said Westerner Park CEO Bradley Williams, adding more than 50 events are plannedh. The Canadian Finals Breakaway, stock dog events, as well as ultimate and extreme cowboy challenges are on the card this year.

“I’m sure it’s one of those things that will just build over time,” he said of the six-day event running Oct. 29 to Nov. 3. “But going from our first year to what we’re going to be doing this year is a significant change.

“And of course those changes come at a cost.”

Red Deer gives rodeo $50,000

Red Deer County supports rodeo

The Alberta government is providing $250,000, as it did last year, which is the portion dedicated to CFR of the $7.6 million in grants Edmonton got the last year it hosted the rodeo.

Williams said while the funding is welcomed, Red Deer faces challenges that Edmonton didn’t. For instance, a lot more tickets could be sold for events in Edmonton’s Northlands Colliseum than the 7,000-seat Westerner Park Centrium.

Edmonton can also draw on a trading area in the range of 1.5 million people, where Red Deer’s reach covers about 340,000.

“For us to fill our arena takes a lot more work,” he said.

The pitch to the government is that given the economic benefit to Alberta, the CFR is a good investment that will only get better as it finds its footing in its new home.

“It’s a huge national event that we put on here in Red Deer and we’ve got at least nine more years to go,” he said.

Williams said they made their case to Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Minister Tanya Fir, but she could make no funding commitment ahead of the provincial budget to be tabled on Oct. 24.

The door was not closed by the minister, however.

“Once the budgets were released and she knew what she had to work with, we would then have a further discussion and see if there was an opportunity for additional funding to come to Red Deer.”

Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood and his council have thrown their support behind Westerner Park’s funding request for additional agricultural program and rodeo funding.

Wood said in council this week that he sees the CFR as an event that provides a regional benefit.

“To provide for the sustainability of the CFR and continued benefit it will bring to central Alberta, Red Deer County supports the Westerner with its request for financial assistance,” says Woods letter.

Council approved a $50,000 sponsorship in May for this year’s rodeo.

Red Deer city council has also shown its support for CFR, approving $50,000 in June.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer hospital bracing for COVID-19 impact

“We’re all worried about what’s coming, but I think we feel confident”

Non-profits that are helping people impacted by COVID-19 can apply for relief funding

Red Deer and District FCSS can draw from a provincial pot of $30 million

Bank of Canada cuts key interest rate target while Libs up wage subsidy

OTTAWA — Canada’s central bank made yet another unscheduled rate cut Friday… Continue reading

WATCH: COVID-19 doesn’t stop Red Deer Public Library from telling stories

Deb Isbister has been reading stories to children for more than 20… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

A message from Central Alberta Co-op

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge that’s having a real impact… Continue reading

POLL: How would you rate governments’ response to the COVID-19 virus?

How would you rate governments' response to the COVID-19 virus?… Continue reading

Regions brace to fight rising flood waters and cases of COVID-19

Pontiac is one of dozens of flood-prone regions bracing for the possibility of rising waters

Feds working to get 248 Canadians stranded on COVID-19-infected cruise ship home

The federal government is working with the Panamanian government and Holland America

Trudeau says air, train travel to be denied for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms

Boarding of domestic flights and trains will be denied to those showing symptoms related to COVID-19

4 passengers dead aboard cruise ship anchored off Panama

4 passengers dead aboard cruise ship anchored off Panama

Most Read