Perfect weather and an appetite for rodeo made for a record-breaking Cochrane Lions Club Labour Day Weekend Rodeo, Sept. 3 to 6.

It kicked off with the biggest crowds ever at the Slimdor Ranch Rodeo on Sept. 3, then packed houses for all three days of the FCA rodeo.

Each of the four days, thousands of people headed to the rodeo grounds, happy to see the return of what's been a Cochrane tradition for over 50 years. This was the 54th edition.

Midway through Monday afternoon, rodeo co-chair Kevin Firkus says it appeared all the records would fall.

"I'm pretty sure we're going to break the 10,000 mark for people, and that's huge for us and it's huge for the community. Our motto is let's reboot these communities, and I think we just did."

The Cochrane Lions Club rodeo committee did a little fine-tuning to allow several communities to hold their event on what is traditionally a weekend set aside for Cochrane. Water Valley, Caroline, and Airdrie also held rodeos.

"I can't say enough about how happy we are with the support we received from the community in these tough times," says co-chair Kevin Firkus. "We're really thankful that we could hold this event after 18 months of the pandemic."

He points out 100 per cent of the proceeds go right back into the community, and it also generates tourism dollars for local businesses.

"We've got people from around the world here this weekend. It's amazing how many people have come out to support us."

Alberta Health Services provided an exemption to allow the Saturday night dance to be shuffled outdoors and run until midnight. Just a day before the dance was to be held, the province changed the COVID regulations. 

"We had so many people there we wouldn't have been able to fit them indoors anyway," says co-chair Kevin Firkus.