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Remembering Jasper Heritage Rodeo

Jasper Heritage RodeoThe sport of Rodeo enjoyed an amazing 97 year history in Jasper National Park. A special summer offering in the popular west central Alberta Rocky Mountain Park since 1925 – the rodeo encompassed a cultural celebration and heritage that dated back to the explorers and pack-horse trains which helped open up the west, the fur-trade era involving indigenous peoples, outfitters, surveyors, mountain climbers, park rangers, scientists and early tourists visiting the Rocky Mountains.

2019 marked the 26th year the unique and popular event was presented under the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association flag… the only pro rodeo to be offered in a National Park. Each year the rodeo committee and community welcomed Canadians and visitors from around the World to the celebration of Canada’s indigenous and western heritage. 

Jasper Rodeo - early daysTourists and community members alike enjoyed cheering on top rodeo athletes from across North America in rodeo’s major events. Jasper Heritage Rodeo week also featured a number of fun activities around the community including a Stick Pony Parade, a Fund Raising BBQ, the Jasper Volunteer Fire Brigade Pancake Breakfast and the Lil’ Britches Corral among them. Overall, it was a highlight on the Pro Rodeo Canada roster each August and a fun experience for families and Jasper visitors.

Many community members volunteered their time to present and maintain the rodeo, which started outdoors initially, was moved inside to the Jasper Activity Centre from 1977 to 2015 then on to another outdoor location near Whistlers Campground on the outskirts of Jasper.

Thank you to all of the volunteers, committee members and workers who contributed their time and talents to this event over the years as well as the Northcott and Macza rodeo families. Special recognition goes out to Gail and Don Lonsberry for their unfailing and many-year support of the event. The Lonsberrys were recognized by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association as Committee People of the Year in 2014. Thank you as well to supporters, Michael Furzeland, most recent vice-president of the Jasper Heritage Rodeo and to committee members Helen Switzer and Dallas Klassen.

Jasper Heritage Rodeo committeeThe Jasper Heritage Rodeo closed it’s doors after the 2019 pro rodeo, citing the impact of the Covid pandemic, lack of volunteers and the end of a lease with the federal government as the main reasons they were unable to continue. Once it folded, the Jasper Heritage Rodeo Association kindly disbursed remaining funds by offering grant money to a number of organizations. The Canadian Rodeo Historical Association was one of those thankful recipients.

As we head into the third weekend in August, which traditionally included the Jasper stop, it’s nice to remember the years we enjoyed this special rodeo in such a spectacular setting.

Images courtesy of the Jasper Heritage Rodeo Association, Brenda Vold and the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association

Jasper Rodeo dignitaries Jake Vold

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