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More Than Just a Rodeo

by Gillian Shields

When it comes to rodeos, I’ve done it all. This of course was all possible because I received a once in a lifetime opportunity granted right here in Edmonton when I was crowned Miss Rodeo Canada 2013. After making over 500 appearances throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, I experienced the diverse cultures each rodeo brought. After traveling to all of these rodeos, fairs, and exhibitions I realized the exceptional quality in how the sport of rodeo is generated back home. Canadian rodeo is highly respected in the rodeo world. We are known for the best bucking horses, our wild pony racing, and typical Canadian hospitality.

The Canadian Finals Rodeo is the second largest professional rodeo in the world. You will see the same extraordinary talents you would find at the Cheyenne Frontier Days, The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Vegas, and The Calgary Stampede. You will feel the roar of screaming fans cheering as fire flares shoot out of the dirt and the chutes open for the next cowboy to mark out and make a ride. The contestants are all riding and roping their hardest to get a piece of the whopping 1.3 million dollar purse CFR brings to the table each year.

Professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls are a bit different from other athletes in the professional sports world. Although rodeo athletes practice and train every day, their salary is based solely on winnings, and they must pay entry fees to compete in each rodeo. The sport is extremely family-oriented and you can see siblings, fathers, and mothers competing with and against each other. Everything is on the line for these rodeo families when they are competing at CFR. Everything they risked during rodeo season comes down to winning in Edmonton.

In conjunction with the CFR, many other events come into Edmonton such as: Farmfair International, The Miss Rodeo Canada Pageant, and a Western Lifestyle Tradeshow. These all give you a glimpse of the western culture you need to indulge in – it’s simply like no other. Originating from the agricultural roots and ranching traditions of the first settlers in North America, today’s western lifestyle is usually found in rural areas. This is the one time of year that you are able to see this lifestyle and experience in Edmonton.

What makes CFR authentic?

The mass coming together of the Canadian western and agricultural communities can only be found during the first week of November here in Edmonton. You can see every type of livestock imaginable at Farmfair, bars filled with cowboy hats and rodeo families and fans going wild cheering on their favorite cowboy. The cowboys and cowgirls you will see here are much more than just plaid shirts and cowboy hats. They are the living breathing culture you hear about. The sport of rodeo is a family and a way of life – and it’s a family you want to be around. I invite you to come be a part of my rodeo family and experience Rodeo Week 2014!