COCHRANE— The Cochrane Lions Club has been laying tentative plans to host the community-favourite Cochrane Lions Club Rodeo this September long weekend.
On March 12, Premier Jason Kenney said he was optimistic about the Calgary Stampede moving ahead, and the co-manager of the Lions Club Rodeo, Chris Connon, shares his enthusiasm.
As long as the health measures in the province allow for the event, the Cochrane Lions will be moving forward with the rodeo, Connon said.
“The letter that [chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw] put out the other day, it was kind of a timeline of what stuff is going to be opening back up again, and it’s looking like it might fit our timeline,” Connon said. “We’re going to plan like we’re going forward with our rodeo.”
Connon said he has heard from many of the cowboys in the circuit who have been very anxious to get back to competing. Many of them rely on the smaller local events, because it is where they can cut their teeth and get valuable experience before trying their hand at a professional event.
“They’re just dying to get back at it,” he said. “It’s just an amateur event, but that’s the stepping stone to get to the big leagues where you can make a living at a rodeo.”
Many of them have even gone south of the border, he said, to compete in the United States, where rodeos are still being held in many places.
Not only is the rodeo an important event for the athletes who participate, but it is an economic opportunity for the town as a whole.
He said many of the hotels, campgrounds, gas stations, restaurants and retail stores often see boosts in traffic during the event. Connon said he has also had emails from individuals as far away as Australia, Scotland and other places in Europe reach out to him asking about the event and services in Cochrane.
“We put three to five thousand people through our gates a day,” he said. “You meet people from everywhere … They want tickets, they want to be here for the weekend and support everything local.”
Despite the hard economic times that many businesses have faced over the past year, many sponsors have expressed their interest in the event, which is reassuring to the planning committee, Connon said.
“It’s nice to know that backing is there and they want to get back at it,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of people chomping at the bit.”
Last year, after the rodeo was cancelled, the Lions Club held a food drive and fireworks show in lieu of the event, and Connon said that there are some backup plans being considered.
“We’re still in the infantile stages of planning. We’re kind of trying to wait it out and see where to spend our energy,” he said.
He said this year, with the end of the pandemic in sight, and given the cancellation last year, the Lions Club is working hard to put on an event that will be bigger and better than ever.
“We made that promise last year when we announced that we were cancelling,” he said. “We’re putting together a lot of ideas, all of the different ways to really spark something for the community.”
Keep an eye on the Cochrane Lions Club Rodeo for future announcements regarding the event.