Virden Indoor Rodeo & Wild West Daze (VIRWWD) is cancelled for a second year. This is a four-day signature event for Virden and area and figures largely in rodeo sport.
Rodeo president Thomas Hagan said the committee waited until just a month before the rodeo’s regular August date before deciding to cancel because they were hoping for a change in the province’s health regulations that would allow a large event like this to go forward.
“We put our heads together trying to find how to run a rodeo. Every time we turned around our hands were tied. Just with the regulations that they have, we weren’t going to be able to have a crowd.”
Rodeo is all about the crowd, an important part of this venue, where top rodeo athletes compete. Sanctioned by the Manitoba Rodeo Cowboys Association (MRCA) and Canadian Cowboys Association (CCA) Virden’s rodeo has attracted contestants from Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand - a make or break it event for competitors to earn points toward the MRCA and CCA finals.
The committee considered just putting on an event for rodeo competitors, but even that didn’t fly. “It was going to be troublesome, people crossing provincial borders....” They even considered holding a strictly outdoor event.
“We held off so long to see if the regulations would change to allow us to have one, and it just didn’t happen. So, that’s why we ended up cancelling the whole event. It’s a huge disappointment,” says Hagan. “We have a really strong board. Everyone has a real appetite to put on a rodeo.”
The late August event is a package with something for everyone. Even the timing made it significant.
“With students going back to school, it’s one of their last weekends. It’s become a real staple in the community.”
Hagan pointed out, “The Calgary Stampede, the greatest outdoor show on earth, is going right now. They’re definitely having rodeos in Saskatchewan. But in Manitoba, it’s just a different set of rules. We have to play by the rules.”
Thursday’s Downtown Daze, plus a four-day rodeo crowd, meant a lot to Virden businesses. This cancellation affects many people financially, such as Prime-Time Stock Contractor Jim Lawrence. “It’s basically what the man does for a living and he hasn’t been able to work as a stock contractor for two years now, so it’s a huge financial hit.”
From the silversmith, clown, bull fighter and rodeo announcer right on down to the porta potty provider, Hagan noted, “Everything we do, all those people are affected.”
Last year it was presumed this was a one-time nix.
This year, he says, “This one was really out of our hands. Last time when we cancelled, we were kind of going into this blind. Nobody knew what we were up against. This time we certainly knew because we’ve been in this thing for two years.” He adds, “Everybody’s rarin’ to go for 2022 now.”