New for 2019, Thomas Hagan, at 35 has stepped up from the ranks of volunteers to take the reins as president of Virden Indoor Rodeo & Wild West Daze (VIRWWD). Everett More was ready to become the past president and to pass the baton. Hagan, already vice-president, was ready to run with it.
“My family’s always been involved. I think it is really important to volunteer,” he stated. In fact, Hagan’s mother, Jocelynn Hagan, was the president before More took the head seat.
VIRWWD is now celebrating 31 years of rodeo. Hagan is aware of the many who have gone before him to make this a top event in the eyes of the competitors, appreciative crowds and the community of Virden.
The Virden signature event has been voted “Rodeo of the Year” by the cowboys and cowgirls multiple times over the last two decades.
During More’s tenure as president VIRWWD was lauded as “Event of the Year” in the $5,000 and over category at both the 2015 Tourism Westman Tribute to Tourism and at the Manitoba Tourism awards. Drawing crowds of both competitors and spectators, it’s a highly entertaining money-making event.
So, in such a well-run event, Hagan doesn’t plan on making any changes just for the sake of change.
“It’s a strong board and we’re taking over a really successful event.”
He points to Shootout Sunday as a very successful change that Lonnie Brown, as Western Rodeo Chair, implemented. So rodeo action includes three performances, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, with Shoot-Out Sunday being the ‘short go’.
The top 10 competitors return to compete in this final evening. “It’s a heck of a performance,” says Hagan. “It’s not very often you get to see the cream of the crop, all in one day.”
Last year, the Saturday night program was heavy with hometown talent and the crowds appreciated it. “We packed the arena.”
VIRWWD is overseen by an umbrella committee and within that structure, there are a number of committees that organize each facet of the weekend. Hagan first began with VIRWWD about 14 years ago as chair of the dance committee.
He says, “Mona Kenderdine had already made the dance a big event,” with capacity crowds of 800 people attending the Saturday dance in the curling rink. Christine Steele took over next and she then passed the torch to the Hagans.
Hagan comments that although he works hard for the dance, carting crates of drinks and the like, his wife Felicity, “deserves the credit” for this well-run event. And they continue to run the dance. This year the band, Electric Angel, is coming back.
“They’ve been awesome. The crowd loves them.”
The family is a team in whatever they do. They enjoy their Western lifestyle, operating a cattle spread which combines the latest in grass farming techniques with time-honoured horsemanship to work the cattle. At Hagan Valley Ranch, the cow-calf herd is moved daily to new electric fenced grazing paddocks.
They also train horses there, purchasing young ranch and rodeo prospects to turn them into valuable mounts.
With the business of ranching and raising their son Rory, plus another child on the way, Hagan no longer rodeos a full circuit himself. Not like he used to. But you will likely see him on the program, steer wrestling at his hometown event.
Hagan says it made sense to him to become involved in leading the rodeo event.
“My family has always been really involved. My brother, Alistair, was really involved with the MRCA (Manitoba Rodeo Cowboys Association), the association that we sanction our rodeo through. My mother was involved.
He feels confident of the committees where the work gets done. As Past-President, More is still on the board as well. “We have those who have been around for so long and have created this event,” Hagan says.