Westerner Park and the ENMAX Centrium play host to the 45th edition of the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) from October 30th to November 4th, 2018.
RED DEER, Alberta – Of the 55 events on the 2018 Canadian Pro Rodeo Association (CPRA) schedule, 24 of them are within a two-hour drive of the new home of the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR).
That is an astounding 44% of events on a schedule that has competitions all the way from British Columbia to Manitoba.
The heart of Professional Rodeo is in Central Alberta, and the new home of the CFR is a perfect fit.
“I think the quaintness of the building will make the vibe explosive. It’s going to create an atmosphere that’s second to none,” said CPRA General Manager Jeff Robson.
“Different than the atmosphere you might see in the Thomas & Mack, where the concourse is hidden, this concourse is wide open,” Robson said of the Thomas & Mack Centre, home of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) in Las Vegas. “I think you’re going to see people congregate, I think it’s just going to be a much different feel.”
Westerner Park and the ENMAX Centrium have hosted such events as the Tim Horton’s Brier and RBC Memorial Cup.
“The Parkland Pavilion beside the ENMAX Centrium with the live-stream rodeo, those people that are searching for that stand-up bar room feel while they visit with their friends and watch the rodeo on TV, that’s going to fulfill that,” Robson said. “There are going to be a lot of happy customers that get to see that rodeo that way, and that want to see the rodeo that way. There will be live entertainment directly after, the party doesn’t have to stop, it can carry on.”
Entertainment isn’t just after the rodeo, it begins at 4:00 p.m. running up to the performance at 7:00 p.m. and continues after from 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. With everything under one roof, the events will all be seamless.
“I think from a contestant’s point of view, first and foremost the money is the same and over time will get better with some visibility to getting better,” Robson said. “I think the amenities, the stalling, the warm-up areas in terms of the timed event contestants are every bit as good if not better. The barns and warm-up area are all in the same building. The ride across to the ENMAX Centrium is very short. Even if we did run into some inclement weather I think we are going to be able to accommodate that.”
For those not familiar with Red Deer, it resides only 75 minutes from both Calgary and Edmonton’s International Airports.
“I think our stock is going to be housed on site, we don’t have to truck it in every day. That’s going to be much better,” Robson said. “There are a lot of logistics that I think overall, people are going to go: ‘This is actually better.’”
Not only for planning, management and coordination of the event, but the size.
“The City is smaller, it’s easier to get around in,” Robson said. “Most of us are rural people, we grew up in rural areas, we want smaller. Smaller is going to fit us better. The breakfast places will be buzzing. It’s going to be a great buzz.”
Signed in January, 2018 marks year one of a ten-year contract.
“We’ve got a great road ahead,” Robson said. “As this thing starts to build and build momentum this year, it will only get bigger and better. Then, as we start having more auxiliary events, the trade show gets bigger, Westerner Park is even building a new addition. When it all joins together this is going to be the epicentre of trade shows and they will be able to double or triple their capacity in terms of trade shows. This is going to be a formula for success for some time.”
Adding an extra day of competition gives contestants and fans more time to enjoy Red Deer and the surrounding areas.
“It’s going to have a bit of everything for everybody. It’s going to be a great week,” Robson said. “Not having two performances on Saturday, just being a former contestant, I want to compete again. What a nice break, to just have one performance every day. That Friday night to Sunday afternoon, you crammed a lot, four performances, into a very short time. It takes a whole year to get there as a contestant and to be able to stretch that out now to six days, enjoy that time and spend some time with your family and create some fan engagement.”
Some of the additional events are already starting to take shape, including the new Rising Stars Junior Canadian Finals Rodeo on Saturday afternoon starting at 1pm.
“It’s going to create lots of things to do during the day,” Robson said. “They are going to be re-playing the rodeo from the night before, there are going to be viewing areas, there are going to be lots of great things.”
With almost half of all Canada’s Professional Rodeos within two hours of driving from Westerner Park, a large number of contestant’s hail from communities close by.
“This is all about Central Alberta and celebrating CPRA talent in Central Alberta,” Robson said. “The fact that we can bring Pro Rodeo back to Red Deer I think that’s pretty cool as well. I’m really excited about our partnership. It’s going to be great.”
For more event information and more on the 45th Canadian Finals Rodeo, visit CFRRedDeer.ca
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Written By: Ted Stovin