Over the weekend, rodeo cowboys from all over Canada and as far away as Australia converged on Ty Northcott’s farm south of Bowden, Alberta for the first rodeo in these parts since November of 2019, the Canadian Finals Rodeo.
The problem is: rodeo is now outlawed by the provincial government, because sports competitions are banned (unless you're an NHL millionaire).
Outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people will also put you on the wrong side of the law, with enormous fines as a deterrent.
But there are few things more Albertan than rodeo, except maybe fighting the government for freedom, and Ty Northcott’s rodeo was that: an act of rebellion against the never-ending lockdown measures of the United Conservative Party government.
The rodeo was initially slated to go ahead at the Bowden rodeo grounds, but after Alberta Health Services put their foot down, the rodeo was moved to Ty’s place. It was an easy move.
Ty is rodeo royalty. He’s trusted and loved in the rodeo community. He’s from a generational rodeo family, and he's a stock contractor, so he is directly affected financially by the lockdown. His bucking stock need to work and feeding them isn't cheap.
The cowboys aren’t working either. Many of them already moonlight as pro-cowboys with day jobs in the oilpatch, trucking and farming. But they haven’t competed a day in the sport they love in 17 months, unless they find a way to head south to Montana, Wyoming, Texas, or the promised land of the Dakotas.
However, that’s been hard with the border closed. When you have a day job, quarantining for two weeks after being abducted into one of Trudeau’s COVID jails because you rode some bulls on the weekend in Cheyenne or Sweet Grass doesn’t make a lot of sense.
That’s why Ty held his rodeo. Enough is enough.
People who rodeo aren’t scared of a nearly perfectly survivable virus. He’s going to save his sport, whether the government likes it or not, and up to 3,000 people each day of the two day event seemed to agree with his stance.
Each one risked a $1,200 fine to do something Albertans used to do every weekend in every small town all across this province: cheer on the cowboys and girls.
The province is hinting at a strong crackdown on the rodeo, but Ty is being advised by James Kitchen from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms to mitigate his legal jeopardy. Hats off to the gang at the Western Standard for sponsoring the event over the weekend.
Ty is planning more rodeos, including one on Canada Day, with the sponsorship and support of Innisfail mayoral candidate Glen Carritt of the United We Roll Convoy to Ottawa.