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Cowboy Christmas!
Cowboy Christmas
'Tis the season when pro rodeo riders punish their bodies and endure endless miles of bad road and worse food for just eight seconds on the back of an angry horse, with no guaranteed pay—and consider it a gift’

Sports Illustrated, Sam Eifling, July, 2014 - full Sports Illustrated story here

While the above quote from a 2014 Sports Illustrated story presents a humorous (and somewhat accurate) look at ’Cowboy Christmas’, there is sometimes a little more to the story. The CPRA checked in with a few athletes to get their take on the late June-early July rodeo run known as Cowboy Christmas.

Stephen CullingCFR and 2016 PRCA steer wrestling Rookie of the Year, Stephen Culling, who just finished competing at Reno, NV and Wainwright and Sundre, AB, has an ambitious and exciting schedule lined up for the next ten days:
June 26-27 - Greeley, CO
June 28 - Ponoka, AB
June 29 - Airdrie, AB and possibly Reno, NV short round
June 30 - Williams Lake, BC
July 1 - Ponoka short round?
July 2 - Cody, Wy and Livingston, MT
July 3 - St. Paul, OR and possibly Greeley short round

“The best part about Cowboy Christmas is that we get to go to so many great rodeos in about a ten day stretch,” the Fort St John, BC cowboy explained. “There are so many opportunities to win. It makes it easier to get on a hot streak when we’re running steers for big money every single day.”

Culling is also clear about the downside as it relates to the bull dogging event, “We are entered enough places that you can’t have your own horses everywhere so lots of times you have to jump on horses that you haven’t rode much or at all in order to get everywhere you’re entered.”

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Callahan-CrossleyFor 2018 Canadian Barrel Racing Champion, Callahan Crossley-Tryan, “Cowboy Christmas is so much fun! And there is so much money up to be won.” The Hermiston, Oregon cowgirl adds, “But a big factor is the miles. I’m travelling on my own this year and staying mainly in Montana, Alberta and BC so I can’t complain too much compared to friends who are competing at all the places I am and also going to rodeos in Colorado and Nevada."

Callahan’s next ten days looks like this:
June 28 - Williams Lake, BC
June 29 - Airdrie, AB
June 30 - Ponoka, AB
July 1 - Open
July 2 - Red Lodge, MT
July 3 - Cody, MT and Round Up, MT
July 4 - Livingston, MT and Cody, Wyoming
July 5 - Benalto, AB and Coronation, AB
July 6-8 - Drummond, Big Fork and Chinook, MT

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Tyrel LarsenAnd for saddle bronc rider, Tyrell Larsen (Inglis, MB), the challenges and the best parts of Cowboy Christmas are one and the same thing.

“There are just so many moving parts putting together that ten day period. You never know who’s going where, who you’re jumping in with, who made the short round here, who’s flying there. So you have no idea who your next set of traveling partners will be—it’s all a mystery. It’s totally crazy and totally a blast.”

The 30 year-old Canadian and National Finals Rodeo qualifier’s Cowboy Christmas run looks like this:
June 26 - Springdale, AR
June 27 - Dickinson, ND
June 28 - Ponoka, AB,
June 29 - Williams Lake, BC
June 30 - Airdrie, AB
July 2 - Livingston, MT
July 3 - Mandan, ND
July 4 - Killdeer, ND
July 5 - Belle Fourche, SD …with a deliberate hole left on July 1 when the former College National Champion hopes to be in the short round at Ponoka.

“It’s not the riding that’s the tough part for sure,” Larsen chuckled, “it’s just never knowing from one day to the next, how you’re getting to the next rodeo or who you’re getting there with. But that’s also what makes this time so exciting.”

FinningPONOKA STAMPEDE - 6 performances and a Final with timed event slack June 25-30 at 9:30 am
* Ponoka Stampede Schedule and Ticket Information
* Ponoka Stampede Contestant Draw
FinningWILLIAMS LAKE STAMPEDE - 4 performances: June 27 & 28 at 6:45 pm, June 29-30 at 1:45 pm
* Williams Lake Stampede details
* Williams Lake Stampede draw
AIRDRIE PRO RODEO - 4 performances: June 28, 29 & 30 at 7 pm; July 1 at 2:30pm (Bull Riding, Jr Bull Riding, Jr Steer Riding) Slack performance: June 29 at 10 am
* Airdrie Rodeo details/ticket info
* Airdrie Pro Rodeo draw
Kick Off Your Summer at a CPRA Rodeo!
Ponoka Stampede - June 25 - July 1 - one of three Pro Rodeo Canada events over the July long weekend
* Video courtesy of Randy Quartieri and the Ponoka Stampede
The Ponoka Stampede features six performances and a Final (with timed event slack performances June 25-30 at 9:30 am each day)
  Ponoka Stampede Schedule and Ticket Information
  Ponoka Stampede Contestant Draw
Williams Lake Stampede and Airdrie Pro Rodeo are also on the books for the upcoming weekend - details coming shortly!

Sundre Pro Rodeo Chairman Honoured to be 2018 CPRA Committee Person of the Year
Shane CrouchFor the 40 years there has been a Sundre Pro Rodeo, there have been members of the Crouch family on the committee. And Shane Crouch, the recipient of the 2018 CPRA Committee Person of the Year, is no exception.

“The last year I rode steers,” Crouch grinned, “was in 1985. I’ve pretty much been involved in the Sundre Pro Rodeo since then. My dad, Gordon, and my uncle Les (who are twins) have been on the Board for the entire 40 years.”

Crouch went on to say, “It was a complete surprise to learn I’d won this award. It’s very humbling and I’m very honoured.”

The Sundre Pro Rodeo, which runs June 21-23, has grown over the years and the committee and community has worked hard to improve the grounds and offerings in and around rodeo weekend.

“We added a new building this year,” explains Crouch, “A pole, metal clad building with garage doors intended to replace the Whiskey tent. It’s the new home of the Wild Horse Saloon.”

And the committee has a few other elements lined up to help celebrate the 40th Anniversary… fireworks displays, Niki Flundra and her show, Unbridled, the Canadian Indian Relay Race, as well as a return appearance by rodeo clown, Dennis Halstead, seven-time pro rodeo entertainer of the year.

Sundre (located in west central Alberta) is an area where rodeo has been around since the early 1900’s, the first pro rodeo was held in 1979. Today, the event draws top competitors from across North America, offers a payout of over $85,000 and is sanctioned by the CPRA, PRCA and WPRA.

“And it couldn’t happen without our board and volunteers,” Crouch explains. “In addition to our 11 board members, it takes hundreds of people to put this event on. We have great support in the Sundre area; we’re so lucky that our community is so generous.”

As to what keeps Crouch involved from a personal perspective, “I absolutely love rodeo - the contestants, the fans - all of it. And our whole town buys in. It takes a huge amount of work to make it happen and a lot of volunteer hours, but I appreciate it all.”

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Canadian Pro Rodeo Celebrates 75 Years

CPRA - 75 YearsThe year was 1944. That’s when a group of cowboys banded together to form the Cowboys Insurance Association. Each member put in $1.00 per rodeo and that amount was matched by rodeo management to form a small insurance fund for the participants.

The following year, the group was re-named the Cowboys Protective Association (CPA) and became a society under The Societies Act. They went from an organization focused almost solely on providing insurance and medical assistance when needed to a body designed to serve its members in a much broader way.

Ken Thomson of Black Diamond was the first President and the organization boasted 160 members initially. Before the organization’s formation, many rodeos were paying less than $10.00 for first place money and entry fees were not added to the prize money. (Thomson recalls attending a rodeo where he spent $14.00 in entry fees, won four firsts and two seconds and got $34.00 back!)

In 1965, the group incorporated under the name Canadian Rodeo Cowboys Association, an identity that lasted until 1980 when the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association became the official name of the organization. Under the auspices of CPRA, Canadian pro rodeo has become a well-organized and well-regulated sport, with a global membership of over 1000 and a comprehensive insurance and medical program.

Fast forward to 2019 - 75 years after the early visionaries joined forces. Today, the CPRA holds 55 plus events annually with $5.57 million in total prize money. 1.65 million is paid out at the Canadian Finals Rodeo alone.

Happy 75th Anniversary Canadian Professional Rodeo Association!

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