The Foothills Cowboys Association held its Cowboy Classic Finals Rodeo over the weekend and saw a record turnout.
“In my opinion I would say that that’s probably one of the best turnouts we’ve had since we’ve been in Red Deer,” said Murray McGonigle, FCA rodeo president.
He said that’s because of a few factors, one being the date change. The rodeo has traditionally been held on the Thanksgiving long weekend, but this year, the finals committee made the decision to move it off with hopes of bolstering their crowds.
“I think it helped a lot and of course everything is weather dependent,” said McGonigle.
He added for the fan base, a lot of it is also time sensitive with farming, winter harvest and other factors.
“I think everything lined up, a lot of variables that lined up together to make it a very welcome site to see the stands full on Saturday night,” he said.
The event saw hundreds of Red Deerians fill the stands each day, and some of the best cowboys and cowgirls ride in the finals from across the province.
This year’s FCA champions included Branden Dillman for bareback riding, Chad Gulick for calf roping, Colton McKinney for novice horse riding, Brandon Tetz for boys’ steer riding, Walker Guthrie for steer wrestling, Blake Smith for junior bull riding, Sandra Carter for ladies’ barrel racing, Jenna Urasaki for junior barrel racing, Kole Ashbacher for saddle bronc riding, Jim Cooper and Beau Cooper for team roping and Armando Davila for bull riding.
To qualify for the FCA Rodeo Finals, it’s based on money won through the regular season rodeos.
“At the end of the year the top 10 qualifiers in each event are eligible to move onto the finals.”
FCA is just one of four affiliated associations in Alberta.
“We’ve got four affiliated associations in Alberta; the Lakeland Rodeo Association, the Wildrose Rodeo Association, the Chinook Rodeo Association and the Foothills Cowboys Association. Basically they’re regional, and so we usually stay fairly close within our regions,” said McGonigle.
He said they also have what they call co-approved rodeos, which includes some of the rodeo committees wanting to have more contestants at their rodeos, so they’ll invite an affiliated association to allow their members to compete against their members
“Over the years we’ve seen a little bit more of that and we need to see a little bit more in my opinion,” he said.
The FCA Rodeo has been held in Red Deer for over 30 years.
“I believe due to the great efforts of our finals committee and the FCA Board of Directors, it’s also one of the reasons we have such a successful finals.”