Fun for the entire family remains the focus of the Calgary Police Rodeo that's returning to the Cochrane Lions Rodeo Grounds for the fourth time this Saturday (Aug. 13).
Mike Cavilla, president of the Calgary Police Rodeo Association, says it's been two years since they have been able to hold the rodeo, and they're amping it up to make it the best one ever.
Now in its 38th year, Cavilla says it's unique in the sense that only police, fire, and EMS personnel can participate in the rodeo events. They've received a tremendous response from across the province. Applications have come from as far away as Thorhild EMS in northern Alberta, and there's members of the Alberta Sheriff, Edmonton and Red Deer Fire, RCMP from across the province as well as first responders in the Calgary area.
"We're really excited with the lineup," he says."We have a full slate of the seven major rodeo events filled."
There's bareback riding, team roping, wild horse race, saddle bronc, break-a-way roping, wild cow milking, ladies barrel racing, chute dogging, bull riding, steer scramble (kids and adults) and mutton bustin' that's popular with the kids.
"We actually have 30 kids signed up this year, so we have our hands full with the sheep," he says.
The event most anticipated by the crowd is cowboy poker, where four people sit around a table and a bull is set loose in the arena. The last one remaining seated is the winner.
Two of their contestants are from the Tsuu T'ina Nation Police and a Calgary Police Service and Red Deer Fire member round out the entries.
While it's certainly a popular event for spectators, it's not an event everyone is keen to try, he admits.
"Well, we don't have them banging down the door per se, but there's still a fair bit of interest to sit at that table and be knocked by a bull."
Next to the rodeo grounds is a free-of-charge fun-packed kids corral and carnival, featuring the Butterfield Acres Petting Zoo, face painting, bouncy castles, pony rides, clowns and roaming magician, and ever-popular train rides.
"This rodeo is a family-centred event and we do put a lot of work into the kid zone and the kid activities. There's everything going on in there and that's going on at the same time as the rodeo. A lot of police, fire, EMS personnel do have young kids, so it definitely gives the kids something to do while the parents are playing in the arena."
In the evening, people will be kicking up their heels at a barn dance in the Cochrane Lions Event Centre, featuring Cremona's award-winning country artist Blake Reid and the Calgary Police country band Frontline.
Tickets can be purchased at the rodeo gate or online here. Rodeo tickets are free of charge for members of the Calgary Police Association and their families. It's also free for seniors 55 and over and children under 14. Separate tickets are available for the barn dance.
The last police rodeo held here in 2019 raised $10,000 for the Missing Children Society of Canada, the principal benefactor of the event.
"It's a Calgary-based charitable organization that does some great work in relation to searching for missing and abducted children, and that's right across Canada and sometimes into the United States."
He continues, "We are really honoured to be partnered with this agency and we have been since 2005, so it's been a long-standing relationship we've had with them, and I can't say enough good things about them."
The rodeo also supports the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund.
This year's rodeo is dedicated to the memory of Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who was sadly killed in the line of duty in early 2021
Gates open at 11 a.m. and the rodeo gets underway at 1 p.m. The barn dance begins at 7:30 p.m.