Horseman Lyle Brown remembers the first few years of the Virden Indoor Rodeo in the late ‘80s.
The event was brand new and going through the natural growing pains. Organizers called on Brown for some trouble-shooting given his vast experience with rodeo. That’s when the bug bit him.
“After the first couple of years, I said I’d like to come on the board and have more to do with it ahead of time rather than patching up after!”
And that’s how he wound up spending nearly three decades volunteering for the Virden Rodeo, on the executive board and wearing various other hats while earning the praise of Past President Everett More who calls him a “solid rock”.
Brown says he keeps coming back to the rodeo because, “I live and breathe the horse industry. I competed up until about 10 years ago when I started backing out. But I used to go to a lot of rodeos. I’ve been passionate about it and proud of the Virden rodeo - it’s become the elite rodeo in the province and in western Canada.”
“Rodeo has been very good to me. It’s an honour to give back.” –Lyle Brown
He reflects on the changes he’s witnessed over the life of the Virden rodeo that have attracted a broader base of what he calls weekend warriors – cowboys and girls who are willing to travel farther, drawn by bigger prize money and trinkets.
“Things like saddles and buckles – we didn’t have any of that at the start. Now the purses are $2,000 to $3,000 per event and $6,000 in team roping, compared to $250 an event back then.”
In fact, he says, many young rodeo competitors are coming to the Virden area to work because of the enthusiasm for rodeo they find here. Brown suggests they should start calling it The Cowboy Capital of Manitoba.
Another change that’s happened under his care: his family has grown up and grown right into their own cowboy boots. Son Lonnie is the chair of the western rodeo this year and Shane works with the calf ropers. Brown’s young grandchildren all have horses and rope, says Grampa proudly.
“The kids are aspiring to become what their dads and grampa are.”
About the Award:
Each year the Virden Indoor Rodeo and Wild West Daze recognizes a volunteer who has made an exceptional commitment to the production of the weekend’s events by awarding them the Gerry Holmes memorial award. It is presented in memory of Gerry Holmes who was a dedicated leader of this event for many years.