Looking at the numbers, you quickly notice how much has changed over the past 44 years at the CFR.
The audience has nearly quadrupled: from 24,000 spectators in 1974 to 87,394 in 2016.
The purse is exponentially larger as well. The amount of prize money up for grabs has mushroomed from a little over $29,000 in 1974 to more than $1.5 million in 2016.
Another strong area of growth has been the community programming offered through the CFR, like the agricultural program for schools and Rodeo Magic for kids with disabilities. This year, the two programs will introduce more than 500 kids to agriculture, farming, and the rodeo lifestyle.
A Unique Tradition
One of the things that hasn’t changed over the years is something you might not expect…the rodeo dirt!
The soil used in the arena is from the very first year the CFR was held. Its special mix of ingredients is ideal for rodeo activities, and Northlands has been able to preserve and recycle it over the years, creating a tradition unique to the CFR.
That means, the ground this year’s participants and animals will touch is the same ground the first CFR champions won their titles on.
Several CFR champions have heirs in the arena now, competing for their own shot at rodeo glory.
The Daines family from Alberta has two CFR champions in the family, with Duane winning All-Around in 1987 and Wyatt winning Novice Saddle Bronc in 2007. Sydney Daines, Duane’s daughter, is a qualifier in this year’s Ladies Barrel Racing, hoping to follow in their footsteps and bring home a title too.
Kole Ashbacher is another Albertan with rodeo in the blood. He’ll be competing in this year’s Novice Saddle Bronc event. His father, Duane, held the CFR champion title in the same event from 1987 through 1990.
The Value of Stewardship
Competition isn’t the only thing tying together the many generations of the CFR. As knowledge and skills get passed down, so do many of the values associated with rural life.
Stewardship is one of those values. The CFR relies on volunteers to help deliver certain community programs. As the Manager of Volunteer and Community Relations for Northlands, Fran Lucas has seen many families with multiple generations working together at some of the CFR events.
“In one family, there are four generations that volunteer for us.” – Fran Lucas
“We have a father and son coming off the farm to help us, a mom and dad from the city bringing their two kids,” Fran says, “and in one family, there are four generations that volunteer for us.”
Share the Tradition
One of the most touching things about the CFR is how it brings families together through shared experiences.
Through the CFR and Farmfair International (which all CFR ticket holders have access to), people of all ages and abilities can enjoy the thrill of the rodeo up close and personal.
The past 44 years have been one hell of a ride. Come see the action one last time and be a part of history in the making!