The dust is finally (and literally!) beginning to settle in the Agrium Western Event Centre after an extremely busy fall. Created to be the new heart and home of year-round western events, the Agrium Centre definitely showed its strengths through a series of exciting events in September and October.
The action kicked off mid-September with the Team Roping Canada Finals, and quickly moved on the newly created Calgary Barrel Classic. This is the major barrel racing event to take place in the state-of-the-art facility, and organizer Toni Dixon says she received nothing but compliments from many of the more than 400 competitors. “The contestants were so happy to be competing at Stampede Park. They loved the ground, and loved the facility.”
The weekend of barrel racing featured the first ever Canadian qualifier for ‘The American’. As the world’s richest one-day rodeo, ‘The American’ offers competitors a chance at winning $1 million. More than 70 competitors raced the clock in Calgary in the hopes of securing a spot. Jane Melby and her horse Brookstone Jo topped the list of ten horse and rider teams moving on to the semi-finals in Fort Worth, Texas in February.
As a Director on the Calgary Stampede’s Board, as well as a top barrel racer, Toni Dixon combined her two passions to create this event. But she says it was the volunteers, especially those from the Stampede’s Rodeo committee and Downtown Attractions committee who were the driving force behind its success. “They were amazing, I can’t thank them enough for their enthusiasm and support.”
The first weekend in October brought many of the best competitors in Canadian rodeo to Stampede Park for the Cinch Pro Rodeo Canada Series Final. Billed as a last chance for cowboys and cowgirls to qualify for the Canadian Finals Rodeo, it was a great opportunity for rodeo fans to catch high-level competition in the comfort of the Agrium Centre. The Calgary Stampede’s Licorice Baby matched up with bareback rider Jake Vold for an 85.5 point ride to win the first round. Vold went on to win the second go and the aggregate to sweep his event.
Instead of gathering at home with family and friends for the Thanksgiving long weekend, more than 400 competitors brought their horses to Stampede Park for the Canadian Team Cattle Penning Association’s National Finals. With nearly $530,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs, the action was fast and furious on the Agrium Centre’s arena floor for the finals on Monday, October 12.
Just two days later, another major event moved in to the Agrium Western Event Centre. The Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler, is considered one of the most prestigious cutting events in North America. With more than 240 of the top cutting horses from across Canada and the United States competing, it’s a big job to ensure everything goes smoothly.
“We have so many volunteers working on this that are dedicated and passionate about both the Stampede and the sport of Cutting,” said the Chair of the Western Performance Horse Committee, Angela Pipe, during competition. She adds, “It’s exciting to see all the things that we have been planning for months, come to fruition. The cherry on top of everything is having the opportunity to showcase the best of the best in the Agrium Western Event Centre.”
Wrapping up this very busy season is Royal West. The international show jumping competition is the finale for the Western Canadian tournament season. Like all of the other events through this fall, it’s attracted both top competitors and passionate fans to Stampede Park. It’s what we love to see, and what we know we’ll see more of, with many more exciting events coming up!