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Virden rodeo weekend draws capacity crowds

It wasn’t just welcome, it was welcome back.

For 723 days, all through the height of COVID-19, Virden has not held its signature event – the Indoor Rodeo & Wild West Daze. Judging by the attendance and support over the past weekend, it’s clear the legions of fans clearly missed it and are glad the drought is over.

The 32nd annual rodeo weekend got off to a bit of a soggy start. A late afternoon downpour resulted in some anxious moments as Thursday’s Downtown Daze ramped up. However, the parting of the clouds brought out in excess of 1,000 people to take part in an evening full of activity, drawn by the live entertainment by Prairie Joe and Kendra Kay on the stage at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Raglan Street.

Earlier in the day, Corex Resources kicked things off with their barbecue and live music on Jubilee Stage in Victoria Park.

Owing to the threat of thunderstorms, the Show & Shine display was reduced to about half of the vehicles brought out in past years, but comfortably filled the Farmer’s Market area and a cordoned-off portion of Sixth Avenue.

15 local competitors had an early start on Friday, taking part in the Manitoba High School Rodeo Competition in the Tundra Oil & Gas Place arena. New this year was free admission for spectators, thanks to local corporate sponsorship.

Due to the high number of entries in such events as tie-down roping and steer wrestling, a matinee performance was added on Saturday in place of the traditional slack.

Several hundred people braved the afternoon heat and humidity to go to the tailgate party, which was going on simultaneously in the Curling Rink, with barbecued bison burgers, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, carnival games and inflatables for the kids and live music by two bands – Old Bones Buffalo and Rollin’ and Tumblin’.

The three rodeo performances were the focal point of the weekend, and drew capacity crowds, with over 1,500 fans in Tundra Oil & Gas Place on Friday and Saturday.

The “Shootout” on Sunday was a stellar performance as well, and the following competitors took home a Wrangler embroidered bag and championship jacket as winners in their respective events.

Bull Riding - Grady Young, Tyvan, Sask. (88 pts.); Bareback Riding - Blake Link, Maple Creek, Sask. (74 pts.); Tie-Down Roping - Stran Dunham, Souris (8.07); Saddle Bronc - Luke Shields, Nanton, Alta. (79 pts.); Steer Wrestling - Zane Marcenko, Rockglen, Sask. (4.6 pts.) Ladies’ Breakaway Roping - Madison Kovar, Swift Current, Sask. (2:38); Ladies Barrel Racing - Jessa Galloway, Ponoka, Alta. (13.674); Jr. Ladies Barrel Racing - Ashley Weber, Carlyle, Sask. (13.082); Team Roping - Kent & Kavis Drake, Moose Jaw, Sask. (5.27)

For the fourth time, the High Pont Saddle was won by Shane Brown of Virden.