Reason #6 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Rodeo Week

by emil tiedemann

FOR one week every November, Edmonton goes country! Wranglers and Stetsons take over town as Rodeo Week settles in over at Northlands, where real life cowboys and cowgirls come from across Canada and the United States to compete in bareback riding, barrel racing, team roping, and steer wrestling. 

With a $1 million purse up for grabs, everyone who’s anyone in this sport is at the Canadian Finals Rodeo, which was created right here in Edmonton in 1974 by Alberta-born Bob Robinson. “I think that’s my legacy to this rodeo business,” Robinson told the Edmonton Journal upon his induction into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Hall of Fame, in 2014. “It’s been very successful and everyone has benefited from it and even the Americans can come up here now and ride [since 2006].” 

At the time, Robinson was the president of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, and “fought like hell” to make this western rodeo a reality for all Albertans. That first year, the CFR was held at the now-defunct Edmonton Gardens, with a purse of just under $30,000. 

It has evolved substantially over the decades, and is now so much more than just the rodeo itself, with events like the Chili Cook Off on Churchill Square, the Rodeo Kids Korral at McIntyre Park, the Wild Wagons Showdown at Fort Edmonton, the Rodeo Canada Pageant at the Ch√Ęteau Lacombe, and of course, Farmfair International at the EXPO Centre. 

The focus, however, will always be on those men and women who saddle up for one of Alberta’s favourite and oldest traditions. Unfortunately, in 2016, after the CFR denied Edmonton’s generous bid for a five-year renewal, the City moved on and announced that it was parting ways with the CFR. 

That May, the Oilers Entertainment Group announced that they had partnered with WME/IMG and Professional Bull Riders (PBR) to introduce a “western lifestyle festival” to Edmonton by 2017. The 10-day event would align with Farmfair and would include plenty of live entertainment. After all, the show must go on! #yegrodeo


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