From modest beginnings with a crowd of 2,000 for a two-day event the Holstein Rodeo Weekend has bucked its way to the top of the Ontario rodeo circuit, with a crowd of 27,000 stampeding through the gates for last year’s event.
With the appetite for rodeo-style fun seemingly boundless, organizers are anticipating equally large attendance for this year’s ninth annual event, July 8 to 11.
“It’s a nice family event,” said William Crooks, of the Egremont Optimist Club, which hosts the rodeo at the A Bar K Ranch, a 170-acre working ranch located at Southgate Roads 49 and 14. The rodeo features plenty of events for youngsters, as well as barbecues, breakfasts and concerts for everyone and, of course, the rodeo competitions themselves make for exciting entertainment.
“There’s no bad seat. Anywhere you sit is pretty much at the centre of the arena,” notes Crooks.
Team roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, bull riding, team penning, all the traditional rodeo elements are part of the fun at Holstein, as participants compete for points on the Ontario Rodeo Association circuit.
About 600 campsites were booked for the 2009 Holstein Rodeo and Crooks said about 60 per cent of the available sites had been booked by mid-May.
Running the rodeo has become a massive undertaking, outgrowing the ranks of the Optimist Club to involve about 300 volunteers from numerous area services clubs, all of whom share in the proceeds from the event, which is estimated to generate more than $1 million in economic impact on the area (In 2009, about $150,000 was spent purchasing goods and supplies from local merchants). About 3,000 steak dinners and 4,500 breakfasts were served during the 2009 weekend.
Visitors to the Holstein Rodeo weekend can experience three visually stunning rodeos; hear 50 hours of amazing musical and family entertainment; enjoy excellent food prepared by local volunteers and check out life on a working ranch.
Away from the arena, this year’s rodeo weekend feature performances by the Red Rascal Band on Thursday night and Moonshine and Aaron Lines on Friday night, as well as a Ribfest offered by the Hanover Lions Club.
“Saturday is a 17-hour day,” says Crooks, one that begins with feeding breakfast to cowboys, beginning at 7 a.m., with the campers and rodeo-goers joining in as the morning goes on. There’s even a Country Breakfast concert with Johnny Burke and Eastwind. After a full-afternoon of rodeo, a steak dinner will be served by Mount Forest Minor Hockey. The evening concert line-up includes Megan Morrison, a Holstein area entertainer, who has performed at every local rodeo since inception. She will be followed on-stage by the Joe Hikk Band and Emmerson Drive.
A bluegrass breakfast concert featuring Hard Ryde kicks off Sunday’s festivities, which lead up to the rodeo championships, which begin at 2 p.m.
Even with that much entertainment on the go, the Holstein Rodeo is an affordable family event. Organizers note that many rodeo returnees are booking their holidays around the event.
“Where else can you go and spend about a hundred bucks and it’s a weekend away?” asks Crooks.
For complete information on the Holstein Rodeo Weekend go to www.holsteinrodeo.com