By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On July 22-23, the Taber Senior Pro Rodeo will be held at the Taber Agriplex.
“We run two separate rodeos,” said Glynnis Turcato, a competitor and member of the Canadian Classic Rodeo Association (CCRA). “We’ll do a whole rodeo on Saturday and then start over with another whole rodeo on Sunday. What makes that nice is people will stay because they know there’s another rodeo there and so then they camp and stay and run downtown or go golfing or go biking or shopping. That’s the nice part about having a couple days; they put a little bit more interest into the community.”
According to Turcato, the event is part of a seven-event series that is part of the Canadian Classic Rodeo Association that started in Strathmore, moved to Standoff, and then moved to Dunmore and Medicine Hat before finally coming to Taber.
“It’s a real sociable association,” Turcato said. “It’s not the usual where you come go to a town and then you load up a race to get to the next town. We stay at each place a couple days, so it’s kind of more relaxed that way until you get into competition time. And then they’re real competitors.”
The Canadian Classic Rodeo Association, Turcato says, has partnered with Taber Agriplex and the Taber Ag Society, along with other sponsors, and they are helping with the insurance and the cost of the rodeo.
“We have a really good relationship there and we have lots of sponsorship to make this happen because there is lots of cost to it,” Turcato said. “We have to pay for stock to come; the calves that we chase, we have to pay for that and the feed and different things. And so we are a nonprofit – we don’t make money off of this – but we have to cover our costs as we go.”
Turcato says that the Canadian Classic Rodeo Association (CCRA) was founded in 1985 and was created to continue to provide rodeo opportunities to competitors aged 40 and up. According to Turcato, there are contestants from Arizona, Montana, Saskatchewan, and as far north in Alberta as Grande Prairie.
“The majority of our members are in their 50’s and 60’s, but we have a calf roper that’s 82 and a barrel racer that’s 80!” Turcato said.
Turcato says that the Seniors Pro Rodeo will feature ribbon roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping, ribbon running, team roping, tie-down roping team, steer wrestling, and men’s breakaway roping. The first day, Turcato says, will also feature awards for the fastest time. Turcato says that a Henry Jergens memorial item will also be given out for the fastest time in team roping in honour of Henry Jergens, a long-time rodeo contestant in Taber who passed away a year and a half ago. There will even be an egg toss, Turcato said.
“We’re gonna do an egg toss where we partner people up in the middle of the arena with a raw egg and they have to toss it back and forth. And the last person to catch the egg before it’s broken gets the prize,” Turcato said. “We have a gift certificate for them.”
Turcato says that the age categories of the competitors are 40-49, 50-59, and 60-67, and 68+ and admission to the event is also free.
“We hope people come and watch us to see the competitors,” Turcato said. “There are some competitors that have been pros in the past; they’re aging, but they’re still doing it because they love to do it. What we do is we try to entertain our contestants that are coming because we want them to keep coming back. Cause that’s what makes our rodeo happen, you know, is the contestants.”
Turcato emphasizes that none of the event would be possible without the many volunteers, which include a 4-H group of eight kids, helping with the animals and facility preparation.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing,” Turcato said.