In its 72 years, the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair has changed as much as the community that hosts it.
It’s no longer two separate events, for one. Some of the traditions, such as the beard-growing contest, are no longer observed. What is by far the largest change occurred in 2007, following the controversial death of a calf during a roping event. It was then that the Cloverdale Rodeo announced they would drop four roping events: team roping, cowboy cow milking, steer wrestling and tie-down roping.
Because of the change, the Cloverdale Rodeo can no longer be a part of the professional rodeo circuit.
“We’re now called a roughstock invitational rodeo,” said Shannon Claypool, President of the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Association. “The change of format was necessitated by the big urban centre of Vancouver that we live in. Our patrons didn’t want to see calf roping, so we made a choice to change our format and it’s been very successful for us.”
“I believe that in 20 years, other rodeos will look at us and say, ‘Yep, these guys were ahead of their time,’” he said.
“Our objective as an organization is to have a family friendly event that the City of Surrey can be proud of,” he said. “It’s a bit of escapism for the city people. They can come out there and the kids can buy a straw hat and they can be a cowboy or a cowgirl.”
Today, the Cloverdale Rodeo continues to evolve
For one, it’s not only cowboys and broncos at the Cloverdale Rodeo — for the sixth year in a row, skateboarders from around the world will be descending on Cloverdale for the World Freestyle Roundup Skateboard Championships.
More than 60 freestyle skaters from 12 different countries will be at the world championships over the May long weekend. The youngest skater will be eight years old; the oldest will be in his 50s.
In years past, there have been around 34 people competing. Last year, there were 46 representing 11 countries.
Many of the skaters stick around year after year.
“Yes, it’s a contest but they’re here to see each other and to skate with each other,” event organizer Monty Little said. “It’s a huge family reunion. Literally.”