CFR Six Pack holders are among the most dedicated rodeo fans in the country.
A Six Pack ticket holder is the CFR equivalent of a VIP. Holders of these precious packages get exclusive perks, like unique souvenirs and prime parking opportunities. The Six Pack obviously gets you a deal on all six performances – but the most coveted benefit is the ability to renew the same seats each year.
We spoke with four of the CFR’s most ingrained fans, who shared how much the event has meant to them and what keeps them coming back.
A Family Legacy
Don Carlyle is a cattle owner living in Blackfalds, Alberta. He’s been a Six Pack holder since the CFR first rode into town.
“I was at the first Canadian Finals at the ol’ Edmonton Gardens.” Don declares with pride. He’s had the same seats at Northlands now for 43 years.
Don has a unique connection to the CFR – not just as a first-year ticket holder, but as a supplier of several bucking bulls in the 90s and 2000s. “We had to go to the rodeo every fall, to see the ‘kids’ buck,” Don jokes, “to see the boys perform!”
“I couldn’t rodeo when I was a kid,” he shares, “my dad said I had to stay home and work. After I got older and got my own cattle, well, I always was fascinated by bull riding, so I got into raising these bulls.”
Rodeo is part of his family’s legacy now. “My two daughters were involved in it when they were growing up, and now one daughter works for the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine team and my other daughter accompanies me to the Finals every year.”
City Folks, Rural Roots
Jennifer Wigley realized her love of the rodeo while working as a marketing assistant for Northlands in 2005. She grew up as a “city slicker”, but says she always felt a special connection to her grandparents’ cattle farm.
The first time she experienced the CFR was when a coworker let her watch a show during one of her breaks.
“It was on a bigger stage than I’d ever seen,” she says, “so it was pretty awesome. Basically, I spent the remainder of my breaks up there watching.”
Jennifer was hooked. The next year, she bought tickets to three performances. By 2008, she’d become a Six Pack holder and a fan for life. When she started a new job a few years later, she began booking off the entire CFR week and making a vacation out of it.
“I know I’m gonna stay up later than I normally do,” Jennifer concedes, “I’m going to be exhausted because I’m cheering, and whooping, and hollering, and clapping.”
“It’s not like an event where you just sit and watch and you’re all meek and mild, you know. For some of us, it’s pretty vigorous!”
The Peak Point of Fun
The bull riding event generates a lot of excitement at the CFR.
“Everybody teases me that I’ve never seen a grand entry ‘cause I only get there for the bull riding,” Don laughs.
Jennifer adds, “It’s just the one that they really amp up at the end of the night. You’re excited that you’ve had a great time… you’re at, like, the peak point of having fun, and it’s just the last ‘Hoo-rah’ before you go home!”
Another vigorous fan is Joyce Jewell, a travel agent in Sundre, Alberta, who’s been attending the CFR for over twenty years. “I get right into it,” she says, “I mean, I scream my head off. Everyone around me says, ‘Look out, it’s bull riding, you have to watch your ears when Joyce is around…’” she laughs.
Cheering on Local Champs
Joyce grew up on a cattle ranch in Bearberry, west of Sundre. She’s cheered on several friends and neighbours in the arena, as Alberta’s rodeo roots have produced a wealth of local champions through the years.
“I’ve had lots of friends who’ve been champs, like Dale Trottier, he was champ in 1974, he lived in Sundre, he was a neighbour. And I followed Roddy Warren and Roddy Hay and Tommy Bews… Joe Lucas, of course, he grew up out here in the Caroline area, he was a champion roper… It was always exciting to see them win.”
“You get to know both the human and the animal contestants over the years,” Jennifer concurs. “Even certain family farm names… you may not know that generation or that cousin, but as soon as you hear the name, you’re like ‘Oh, that’s one of the Milan boys’, or ‘Oh, that’s one of the Butterfields’ and you just know that you wanna root for them.”
An Annual Tradition
“Even though it’s only one time a year, you get right back into it and feel like you’re hanging out with friends again.” – Jennifer Wigley
Bill Owens, from Westlock, Alberta, is another Six Pack holder who caught the first CFR in 1974. He’s only missed it once in 44 years.
He recalls an awkward time in 1975 when there was pressure to get the rink ready for an Oilers game after the last night’s events. “Near the end of the bull riding,” he describes, “the gate by the bucking chutes opened and a big front end loader entered.” The rodeo managed to finish – but the hockey game had to be postponed until the following night.
Now retired at 83, Bill appreciates the time he gets to spend with loved ones at the CFR. “We attended as a family in the early years,” he says. “Now just my older son and I attend. The Six Packs allow us to share with friends and have the same seats every time.”
Don will be bringing two more guests this year: his two granddaughters, ages 14 and 16, are travelling in from B.C. so they can watch the rodeo together as a family.
“That’s the thing with this rodeo,” Don says. “It’s a tradition. Everybody shows up there in the fall for their little one week holiday, you know. And sometimes that’s all the local ranch kids or ranch families get time off, is to go to the rodeo in November. It’s a very big thing.”
Joyce bought her Six Pack in 1996 to share that tradition with as many friends and family as possible.
“My husband still goes with me and I have good girlfriends too who are just die-hard rodeo fans… it’s that opportunity once a year to be together, cause it’s our passion to follow rodeo.”
Jennifer firmly agrees. “Even though it’s only one time a year, you get right back into it and feel like you’re hanging out with friends again.”
Don’t miss your chance to experience the action one last time – get tickets now at cfr.ca!