The Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair is back for an action-packed May long weekend.
Famous for its quality roughstock and its large purse, the Cloverdale Rodeo only invites the best athletes in the world. This year, a roster of 96 contestants will compete in saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, and barrel racing.
“All of our cowboys and cowgirls are world class,” said Shannon Claypool, president of the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Association. “We invite the top competitors from across North America, and worldwide for that matter.”
There’s just over $300,000 in prize money available this year, he said. The Cloverdale Rodeo is “the second richest rodeo in Canada, next to the Calgary Stampede,” he said.
But that money isn’t won without a fight.
“These cowboys and cowgirls have to work hard to earn their money,” he said. “We put on a quality show, and have one of the best stock contractors.”
Claypool said the ones to watch will be the champions from last year, who are returning to defend their titles. Bareback rider Caleb Bennett, barrel racer Callahan Crossley, bull rider Toby Collins and saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston are all expected on the fairgrounds come May long weekend.
Another outstanding competitor to watch is Taylor Manning, said Claypool. She is a stand out for her talent, and for her young age. At just 14 years of age, the barrel racer from Yellowhead County, AB, is a serious competitor. She placed second at the 2018 Canadian Finals Rodeo, and will return to the Cloverdale Rodeo for a second year this May.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s performances include two and a half hours of entertainment. As well as the rodeo competition itself, they will include live music from country music recording artist Jada McKenzie Moore, mutton bustin’ and a rodeo clown act.
On opening night, the performance will end with a bang: a one-night only fireworks display, best viewed from the Stetson Bowl stands.
The Monday afternoon performance will decide it all. Eight finalists in each event will put in one final effort for the chance to win part of the $300,000 purse.
Also on Monday, a brand new event to the rodeo will be introduced: corgi races. Although Claypool isn’t exactly sure what a corgi race looks like, he did predict that it will be “quite interesting.”
A lot of things have changed since that first rodeo in 1946, but Claypool said some things stay the same. It’s still an event that provides “great family fun and affordable entertainment,” he said.
Rodeo weekend is a lot “like coming home, for us old timers,” he said. He invites newcomers to come out and give the rodeo and country fair a try. “Come out and, as our slogan says, get back to country. Buy yourself a cowboy hat and a pair of jeans and be a cowboy or a cowgirl for a weekend.”
“Next year, for newcomers, it will be like going home as well.”
There’s also plenty to do within the Cloverdale town centre itself this weekend. Check out this listing of events, kicking off Thursday evening with the bed races:
Cloverdale Bed Races
Thursday, May 16
This annual event kicks off the rodeo season in its traditional loud, colourful and wacky fashion. Teams of runners hurdle down 176A Street, between 57 and 58 Avenues, competing for the Bed Pan Trophy, among other treasured prizes. The evening starts with a skateboarding demonstration at 5:45 p.m., followed by a bike parade. The main event then runs until around 7:30 p.m. For more info, check out our story here.
Cloverdale Chili Cook-Off
Friday, May 17
Free chili. Need we say more? The annual chili cook-off takes place at Clover Square Village (17700 Highway 10) from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 17. Vote on your favourite chili, and check out the free kids activities. For more, click here.
Cloverdale Rodeo Parade
Saturday, May 18
Thousands will head down to Cloverdale for the annual parade on Saturday morning. The 73rd-annual event has been running for as long as the Cloverdale Rodeo itself. More than 1,000 people are expected to participate in the parade this year. It runs from 10 a.m. to noon in downtown Cloverdale. For more, check out our story here. For a history of the long-running event, check out our history article here.