When asked why spectators should attend the upcoming Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR), rodeo announcer Les McIntyre responds with enthusiasm. The CFR is the World Cup, the Stanley Cup, the Grey Cup of rodeo, he says. As a spectator you can be assured that you ll be watching the best of the best compete. The top contestants will be mounted on the top stock, and assisted by the top behind the scenes personal, he adds. This ensures that viewers will see an exclusive, unique rodeo with the most elite competitors in the industry, so it will always be interesting. And the show will only be two hours long, so you won t have worn the back pockets off your pants by the time you leave!
Edmonton Northlands celebrates 35 years of hosting Canada s national rodeo championship, running November 9-13, 2011. The CFR has 10 events: bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, saddle bronc riding, boys steer riding, ladies barrel racing, novice saddle bronc, novice bareback and bull riding. Contestants come from all across Canada, the U.S. and occasionally overseas to compete for over $1 million in prize money.
Les should know a thing or two about rodeos. As a young man he competed in both chuckwagon racing and rodeo, eventually ending his career after breaking his back in a chuckwagon race in 1983. That bad break ended up being the beginning of something new a career in announcing. I was always a talker, Les laughs. In fact, my parents said I talked before I walked! And I ve been blessed to be able to use my gift of gab to talk about things that really interest me. In 1984 Les started announcing at horse races and chuckwagon races, then in 1994 he began announcing at pro rodeos. This year will be Les s eighth CFR appearance.
Only the top 12 contestants in each event are invited to the Canadian Finals Rodeo. These top riders then select the stock used at the CFR, with the bull riders selecting the bulls, and the bronc riders selecting their preferred bucking horses. This can mean the CFR uses up to 10 different rodeo contractors, each there with their most popular animals. In general there will be 12 head selected for each event, with several spares kept in waiting.
Les has great respect for the people who work behind the scenes at the CFR and mentions chute boss Don Johansen. The chute boss is the engine of any rodeo. He controls the pace of the rodeo, which matters to everyone the spectators, the contestants and the stock, he explains. Don Johansen has really impacted how well the CFR runs, and in fact is about to be inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame for his talents. Yet most of the time spectators don t even think about his job.
When asked to share highlights of past CFRs, Les quickly responds. Well, one of them would be in 2003 when Kyle Bowers and Grated Coconut broke a Canadian Champion arena record in bareback riding. Another highlight would be last year when Rana Walters of Lethbridge, AB, won the ladies barrel racing on her horse Real Easy Doc. Rana was the fourth member of her family to win a Canadian championship. Her father, Oscar, won tie-down roping in 1979, her mother, Mary Lynn won barrel racing in 1980, and older sister Raylee won barrel racing in 2003. It was really exciting to see a fourth win in the family.
I don t think people realize how much the cowboy lifestyle is a family event, Les concludes. Whether it s Farmfair, Ranch Rodeo, or the CFR, often it s an entire, complete family opportunity.
The CFR would like to recognize and thank its major sponsors:
Government of Alberta, Edmonton Destination Hotels, TELUS, Ram, CPRA/
Pro Rodeo Canada, EPCOR and the City of Edmonton. t