Chucks, chili, bulls and beer

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Bonnyville’s the place to be for some good old Alberta traditions


Good ol fashioned rodeo fun
Photo by the Bonnyville Pro Rodeo and Chuckwagon Association

JOANNE ELVES

Count yourself in at the Bonnyville Rodeo and Chuckwagon Championships

What has 30 legs? No wait…what has 1,080 legs and entertains the crowds for four days straight from July 23-26? It’s the annual Bonnyville Pro Chuckwagon races. With six horses and three men to each wagon and nine races each night — that’s a lot of legs. If we start adding in the legs in the rodeo, we’ll need to get out the calculator.

Chuckwagons rule the rangeland

This will be the second year that the rodeo and the chuckwagon races will be held as one big event each day. Thursday and Friday evening the rodeo follows the chucks. On Saturday the rodeo finals will take in the afternoon heat with the chucks still at 6:30. By Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., the chuckwagon finals are a spectacle all their own.

The Bonnyville Chuckwagon races premiered in 2008 and today pull in all the great names in the world of chucks. The track record was set in 2013 by Kirk Sutherland in 1:13:80. If it’s dry and dusty, expect to see the track record challenged. Last year Rick Fraser of Grand Prairie took home the championship. Will he repeat the success? Better come to cheer him on.


What a thrill!
Photo by the Bonnyville Pro Rodeo and Chuckwagon Association

“These are many of the same athletes you see at the Calgary Stampede,” said Jim Martineau, president of the Bonnyville Pro Rodeo and Chuckwagon Association. “What’s great is Doug Irvine is a local driver and that gets the crowds cheering even louder.”

Mitch Michaud, co-chair of the event says that there are no bets on who will win this year. “Everyone is having a good time so far so we aren’t making any predictions as to who just might take final go-round. But, I do like to cheer on the “almost local” guys like Rae Croteau Jr. and Kirk Bensmiller. Croteau may live in Sundre but he was born here so we still think of him as a local. And Dewberry is where Bensmiller lives, and that’s pretty close to local.”

Pancakes and family fun

The whole community gets into the event with fun events for all ages throughout the town.

Thursday night is family night and it kicks off with the park gates opening at 5 p.m. There is free face-painting for the kids and a midway with rides and games of chance to keep everyone amused. The chuckwagons will take to the infield at 6:30. The rodeo follows the last race.

Friday at noon, head to main-street to enjoy the entries in the annual chili cook-off. Once again the Bonnyville Chamber of Commerce has invited locals to show off their skills. What will be the secret ingredient that wins the competition this year?

Friday is also kid’s day at the evening performances and lots of family-friendly events are being held.


This year's rodeo is combined with the annual chuckwagon championships. Two great events for the price of one.

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“Everyone loves the pancake breakfasts,” says event organizer Carol-Ann Cameron. “Back by popular demand, there is a breakfast on Saturday morning at Brosseau’s Department Store and again at the Sobey’s parking lot on Sunday morning. Both start at 9 a.m. and there will be lots to eat.”

A beer garden is held every night but Saturday night be prepared to kick up the dust with live music.

Rodeo action will be wild

The only folks dragging their heels in the dirt in Bonnyville are the bulldoggers at the rodeo. With the cowboys and barrel racing ladies, all members of the Canadian Professional Rodeo, expect to see some impressive action from both the athletes and the stock. Last year, Scott Schiffner of Stettler won the bull riding at the Calgary Stampede and repeated the win at the Bonneyville Rodeo two weeks later. And watch for steer wrestler, Curtis Cassidy to defend his steer wrestling title from last year.

Chucks, chili, bulls and beer. Excellent reasons to visit Bonnyville July 23-26.

 

Lac La Biche and Bonnyville want you to “Take it to the Lake” this summer, click here and get going!

Check out the official Bonnyville Pro Rodeo website

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