OYEN, AB - It’s smack dab in the middle of summer, you’ve got the kids in the car and you’re vacation bound. Instead of spending a boring night in a motel, why not make a stop in lovely Oyen, Alberta on July 25 for the 14th Annual White Lightning Dodge Pro Cowboy Crunch.
Located in southeast Alberta, just north of Medicine Hat, Oyen is gearing up for its annual one-day bull-riding rodeo. This Canadian Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned event is a great source of pride for the roughly 1000 locals and an ongoing commitment for organizer and Oyen resident of 38 years, Randy Girletz.
Involved since its inception, Girletz, along with the Oyen and District Leisure Society organized this annual rodeo as a fundraiser to rebuild a burned out hockey arena and upgrade the local swimming pool. While organizers wanted this rodeo to reflect the friendly, small-town attitude of the town itself, they also wanted to provide a professional, bona fide event. So they brought in the highly rated Big Country Rodeo bulls as their stock contractor and offered some serious prize money.
Rodeo attendees will get the best of both worlds – the best bulls and riders in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. “Here you get the true feeling of a rodeo. You can sit up right by the fence and be right in the mix of the action.” Girletz adds, “The bull riders generally stick around after the event’s over so there’s a good chance of having a beer with them in the beer gardens.”
This year’s event takes place on Wednesday, July 25. Why a Wednesday you may ask? “We always schedule this rodeo on a Wednesday,” explains Girletz. “Everyone’s in town and we hope to attract out-of-towners on vacation.”
Held at the R.C.M.P. Centennial Park, doors open for the White Lightning Dodge Pro Cowboy Crunch at 5:00pm. Contestants begin riding at 7:00pm and judges soon narrow the field down to the final six. A belt buckle is awarded to the Champion Bull Rider and Champion bucking bull, and prize money goes directly to getting the winning rider to the Canadian Finals Rodeo.
Many top riders speak highly of this small, well run event. Jesse Torkelson, the 2010 Champion stated, “They had an awesome pen of bulls out there. Everything bucked really well. And, for a Wednesday night they get a real good crowd out there every year which makes for pretty good bull riding.”
Organizers have worked hard to provide something for everyone in the family to enjoy. The younger folks can check out the Kids’ Zone, which includes a huge sandbox (with buried prizes) and a rocking horse bucking bull. Sign them up for the pig races and be sure to check out the new food booth.
Adults can enjoy the beer garden which runs during the event and a dance that follows. Camping is also available.
Ticket prices are a reasonably priced $15 for adults, $10 for 12-17 years, $5 for 7-11 years and free to those under 6 years.
Girletz says he can guarantee two things; that you’ll have a true, up close rodeo experience and that Oyen is one of the prettiest towns you’ll ever see. When you’re there, stop by the Fountain Tire Girletz has managed for the past 31 years and perhaps you’ll get a guided tour. And then it’s off to the rodeo for some wild rides and good times.