This Ain’t My First Rodeo!

First year of the Alvinston Pro Rodeo – 2018 – Brooke-ALvinston’s own Tyler Foster

In 2017 members of the Alvinston Fair Board were inspired by two local cowboys who were making names for themselves on the rodeo circuit. Champions Tyler Foster and Rod Reese, Tyler won the title of International professional Rodeo Association(IPRA) World Champion Steer Wrestler and Rod won the title of the International Finals Rodeo Champion Steer Wrestler. They teamed up with the Rawhide Rodeo Company marking the beginning of the Alvinston Pro Rodeo.

The first annualized Alvinston Pro Rodeo took place the weekend of June 16th and 17th (Fathers Day weekend) in 2018. They offered sponsorship and vendor opportunities, ran a Meat Draw at Armor’s Ale House and the Alvinston Optimists held a Father’s Day Brunch during the rodeo that has continued each year since with great success.

On Friday June 15th, 2018 organizers of the Alvinston Pro Rodeo invited the whole student body from Brooke Central School out to preview the weekends events with the Alvinston Optimists donating transportation to and from the school, another tradition that has continued.

After Saturday nights Rodeo performance Scott Manery & The Barnburners took to the stage to cap off the evening. Sunday morning began with a Father’s Day Cowboy Breakfast hosted by the Alvinston Optimists.

Planning for 2019’s 2nd Annual Alvinston Pro Rodeo began right away, for Father’s Day weekend. The event now spanning three days, June 14th to June 16th. In the 2nd year organizers offered campsite rentals for the weekend for those who wanted to spend the weekend in the community allowing them to attend all the events planned. Along with admission to rodeo performances campers could attend the two concerts, Rumblefish on Friday night and Scott Manery & The Barnburners Saturday evening. Country singer/songwriter Jay Allen and Dave & Colt, The Southlanders also provided music over the weekend. Also for the second year Armor’s Ale House held a Meat Draw to raise funds for the rodeo and it’s growth including free pony rides for the kids with the support once again from the Alvinston Optimists.

The Father’s Day Cowboy Breakfast returned as well in 2019, thanks once again to the Alvinston Optimists. In 2019 the Alvinston Pro Rodeo was also successful in their application for funding from Celebrate Ontario through the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport with a grant for $6750. Pretty big deal for this small community with big dreams in their second year allowing them to plan into the future.

Once 2019’s Pro Rodeo ended plans for 2020 were already n the works. Dates were worked out, June 19th to 21st with Fathers’s Day Weekend at the rodeo starting to take shape on paper. The bands Snakebite and Scott Manery & The Barnburners were already booked and people were already enquiring about the camp sites.

When March 2020 rolled around and the the rumours turned into reality and by the 17th Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency which started the implementation of restriction on gatherings and commerce and the eventual lockdowns of the COVID 19 Pandemic.

On March 28th, 2020, Alvinston Pro Rodeo President Dan Cumming announced the first postponement of the 3rd Annual Alvinston Pro Rodeo. New dates chosen, August 28th to the 30th with the belief that the pandemic would be behind us. Like so many festivals and events that communities and people invest time, money and too many volunteer hours into no one was ready to believe the world could shut down for long. By the time August 28th arrived the second date also had to be cancelled with the hope the Rodeo would return Father’s Day weekend 2021.

By 2021 people realized COVID 19 wasn’t going away anytime soon with the restrictions and lockdowns that were still a part of every day life. Like so many other organizations, THe Alvinston Pro Rodeo organizers decided to focus their time and energy on planning for Father’s Day 2022 weekend, June 17th to the 19th believing the restrictions would be easing.

Dan Cumming, Alvinston Pro Rodeo Chair and Marnie Cumming Secretary

I had a chance to ask Dan Cumming, President of the Alvinston Pro Rodeo a few questions about this years 3rd Annual Alvinston Pro Rodeo, COVID 19 and his motivation bringing a rodeo of this calibre and the hours involved to this little community.

What reflections do you have on being “Back In The Saddle Again” after two years of COVID 19 cancellations?

It was extremely deflating to have to postpone this event over the past two years. There is a lot of hard work that goes into planning this event year-round and to not be able to follow through really took the wind out of our sails. Being able to come back this year felt very special to us.

How has the rodeo changed and grown this year in comparison to the first two?

We have kept the format quite similar to previous years, but planned for more spectators. We’ve increased seating capacity and partnered with the Alvinston Optimist Club to bring in a mechanical bull. We had a very successful competition for aspiring cowboys and cowgirls of all ages!

What is it about the rodeo each year that makes you want to bring it back for another considering the work that is involved putting on this event?

The events are high-energy, the animal athletes are beautiful and powerful and it’s never the same show twice. There are many participants in this growing industry from our community that are finding success! We love being able to showcase their skills and give them a first-class venue to compete!

What about this years rodeo has you that most excited?

I would have to say the simple fact that it was not going to be cancelled. Knowing that we were finally going to be able to bring the rodeo community to Alvinston again excited our committee tremendously!

Tell me about your reflections on this years rodeo now that it is over?

This year’s rodeo turned out great, despite some fairly significant hiccups at the last minute. We had a few western wear and food vendors lined-up to come that had to pull out for various reasons. It left us a little thin in that department and resulted in line-ups that were longer than we would have liked.

An extreme temperature change and high winds on Friday night likely impacted attendance at the barn dance, but it was still a great crowd. Saturday night saw record attendance. We learned that word has gotten out that we are one of the very best rodeo stops on the IPRA circuit and we’re going to need more seating. It’s a great problem to have!

We have an incredible crew of dedicated volunteers on our team that have done a great job of putting Alvinston on the map. We drew spectators and competitors from all over North America and from as far away as Scotland. We have heard endless positive feedback from patrons who claim they will be back again next year!

We’re very proud of what we’ve built and we are excited about the future of the Alvinston Pro Rodeo! We’re committed to growing and improving year over year for as long as people want us to do it!

We want to thank our sponsors, competitors, spectators and volunteers. Without them, this event could not happen.

We also have to give a big shout-out to BJ Prince and his team at Rawhide Rodeo Company. They are true professionals and wonderful to work with. We are grateful for our partnership!

Alvinston Pro Rodeo 2022

In July of this year the Alvinston pro Rodeo announced that they were successful in their application for funding through the Reconnect Ontario 2022 program. They would be receiving support for the continuation of Rodeo after suffering hard times through the two years of COVID. The Ontario Government would be giving them funding of up top $33,420 through the program. Very good news!

The Alvinston Pro Rodeo would not happen without the dedicated work of the board along with the many volunteers they rely on. Planning is intensive and takes place all year long from the moment the last rodeo ends. Currently the board consists of Dan Cumming – Chair, Marnie Cumming – Secretary, Alex Gray – Treasurer, John Bryans – Co Chair, Chris Bryans – Co Chair, Mark McLean – Executive, Pam Hills – Executive, Sarah Hills – Executive, Kathryn Smith- Annett – Executive, Beth Lucan – Executive, Kevin Straatman – Executive, Jamie Armstrong – Executive, Jim Mihalik – Executive and Burt McKinlay – Executive.

Although I have lived in larger cities most of my adult life, far away from cowboys and rodeos. Instead I spent my time at concerts, protests, worrying about fashion, big hair and chasing the dreams of becoming an artist while trying to change the world. I do remember watching television shows like Bonanza, Rawhide and I spent many hours watching old westerns with my dad. Memories I hold close to my heart. I also believe there there is still a part of me that wants to grow up to be a cowgirl!

Rodeo Clown – Alvinston Pro Rodeo 2022
Roping – Alvinston Pro Rodeo 2022

One thought on “This Ain’t My First Rodeo!

  1. good story,good pictures                                                  J Annett

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