A bareback rider hangs onto his bronc during last year’s Moose Mountain Pro Rodeo.

Moose Mountain Pro Rodeo July 20 and 21

July 18, 2019 4:56 pm
Kara Kinna

Kennedy, Sask. may be a community of just over 200 people, but come time for the Moose Mountain Pro Rodeo, this little community goes all out to host the thousands of people who arrive there to see one of the only pro rodeos in small town Saskatchewan.

This year marks the 87th annual Moose Mountain Pro Rodeo, which will be held July 20-21 as competitors—some of them fairly fresh from the Calgary Stampede—come to town to compete.

But it’s not just the competitors who come from far and wide. So do the spectators.

“There are people who come from all over,” says Moose Mountain Rodeo President Tye Cancade. “There is a couple that come up from Prince Albert every year and I know there is a couple from Cold Lake, Alberta that come. We usually have several people from England coming over. They come to Calgary (for the Stampede) then they swing over to Kennedy for a weekend. One of our sponsors, Vaderstad, their big guys that are from Sweden are coming over here just for the rodeo.”

Cancade says they typically get 4,000 to 5,000 people through the gates over the two day period.

It takes a lot of volunteers to pull the event off, but Cancade says they get a lot of help every year.

“Usually we have somewhere between 100-150 volunteers. We have one volunteer that come every year from B.C. We have volunteers coming from Kipling, Moosomin—all over.”

Cancade says its unique to have a pro rodeo in a town the size of Kennedy, which is part of the attraction.

“It is very strange. There are only two or three other communities in Alberta and B.C. that are our size, or probably a little bit bigger, that have them, and we are the only one in Saskatchewan. Regina is going host to pro rodeos this year, but they’re all invitational or you have to qualify for them, so we are the only open pro rodeo, and it is a pretty big deal for such a small community.”

Cancade says it appears that interest in the rodeo is growing.

“Three years ago it was the biggest crowd we’ve ever seen. In the grand stands you couldn’t find a seat. Both days the beer gardens were packed. There were people sitting on lawn chairs anywhere where they could find a spot. It was just huge.

“I know the rodeo has been promoted a lot more. On our Facebook we promote the heck out of it. With The World-Spectator and 620 CKRM, they’re promoting us, and I think it’s just an interest for some people. I’ve had people come up and say they’ve never been to a rodeo and they had to come check it out. A lot of people come out of the city and they don’t get a chance to see this and they hear about the Calgary Stampede and the cowboys that are coming from there, so I think maybe that’s part of it.

“People want to get away from the city for the weekend, and where better than to go than a town of 200 people.”

This year’s rodeo will be much the same as last year’s, with the rodeo on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, as well as a few other events on that weekend.

“He owns a stock contract company by the name of Prime Time Rodeo, and he was All Around Cowboy in 1991 for Pro Rodeo Canada, and he has been producing some of the top bucking horses and selling them to Gold Rodeo Stock in Alberta, and they’ve been featured at Calgary and then at Canadian finals.”

Cancade says Lawrence is a local who lives just six miles south of Kennedy. The presentation to him will be made during the grand entry on the Saturday at 5 pm.

It’s a lot of work to run the pro rodeo in Kennedy every year, but Cancade says it’s worth it.

“There is only one thing that keeps the town alive and it happens to be the pro rodeo, and the rink in Kennedy, so we have got to keep those things going and keep people interested. It is the one big event. Moosomin has their rodeo and the fireworks out at the lake, and Whitewood has their rodeo and a couple golf tournaments, but in Kennedy it’s just the rodeo, and that is the one big function.

A steer wrestler at last year’s rodeo.

“Every year you look at the books and you look at numbers and you go into doubt, but somehow we keep pulling it off. The sponsors are a big thing and volunteers are the next big thing. Then when we get the audience there, they are the ones that keep encouraging us to do it, just seeing how many people actually will come out whether it’s rain or shine or so hot that you can’t breathe—they’re still there for us.

“It’s a huge undertaking, and when you see Saturday afternoon that the grand stands are empty and within half an hour all of a sudden they are packed full, that gets your blood going and you know it is going to be a good year. And then by Sunday at 1 pm everyone is packed into the rodeo grounds and you can’t find parking anywhere and you know it is going to be a good weekend and it keeps your head above the water and keeps you wanting to keep doing it.”