Six reasons to rock the rodeo this weekend

The Cloverdale Rodeo Country Fair roars to life again this long weekend, from Friday, May 15 to Monday, May 18.

For those keeping track, it’s the 69th annual edition of the rodeo and 127th year for the country fair – a very long tradition of cotton candy, corn dogs, rides, live music and rodeo action at the fairgrounds, on 176th Street at 60th Avenue.

Grounds admission is $12, and tickets are $20 each for the rodeo shows. For kids 12 and under, admission to the grounds and rodeo shows is free when accompanied by an adult. All the details can be found at CloverdaleRodeo.com.

Looking ahead, here’s a list of five reasons the rodeo should rock this year (as always):

1 ‘BEST OF THE BEST’ IN THE RODEO BOWL: Some of the world’s most talented and devoted pro cowboys and cowgirls come to Cloverdale to compete, with more than $325,000 in prize money up for grabs in bareback, saddle bronc, bull riding and barrel racing competitions. Some of the "name" entrants this year include bareback champ Caleb Bennett, Wade Sundell, Canadian saddle bronc-er Dustin Flundra, bull riding stud Dakota Buttar and "Toughest Cowboy" TV show contestant Steve Woolsey. "This year’s crop of elite veteran competitors, along with the next wave of young athletes, will deliver an amazing exhibition of athleticism and an unparalleled rodeo experience," raves Penny Smythe, chair of the rodeo. "We are excited to welcome the best of the best in the sport of rodeo." The action happens at the Stetson Bowl during five rodeo performances – on Friday, May 15 (7:30 p.m.), Saturday, May 16 (at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.), Sunday, May 17 (2:30 p.m.) and Monday, May 18 (2:30 p.m., finals).

2 THE MUSIC: All day long, the midway’s Black Press outdoor stage will be rockin’ to the sounds of top bands, including Appaloosa, Hey Stewey, Chris Buck Band, March Hare and many more. New at the rodeo this year is a showcase for the Artists Development Project, a talent contest staged by the B.C. Country Music Association and Music BC; look for that action at Shannon Hall, with top-25 artists slated to perform.

And don’t forget about the Longhorn Saloon, an ultra-popular party place that will feature Ken McCoy Band and Ettinger Big 50 on a ping-pong schedule this year.

3 WORLD FREESTYLE ROUND-UP SKATEBOARD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Some top pro and amateur freestyle skateboarders from around the world will compete at the fourth annual World Freestyle Round-up, a four-day attraction at Cloverdale Curling Rink, on the fairgrounds. The building will be changed into an arena setting featuring an 80-by-140-foot concrete floor. Viewers should expect freestyle demos and contests using a "battle format," with DJ-spun tunes to keep the crowd and skaters pumped.

The action starts Friday afternoon (May 15) and culminates Monday (May 18) with the 360 Spin Off Best Trick contests (11 a.m.), freestyle finals (2 p.m.), Best Handstand Trick Longest Coconut Wheelie contests (3 p.m.) and freestyle demos (4 p.m.).

4 FINE ART IN THE HOUSE: Art that celebrates the western lifestyle will be showcased during the West Fine Art Show, an annual event that makes its debut at the rodeo this weekend. The exhibit will feature the works of 20 artists as part of curator Murray Phillips’ vision of bringing together a group of talented western Canadian artists in a single show. A portion of all art sales will be donated to Vancouver’s CH.I.L.D. Foundation and Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation. For more details, including a list of participating artists at the rodeo show, visit Westart.ca.

5 THE MIDWAY RIDES: For G-force junkies, more than 35 stomach-turning rides are promised at what’s known as "B.C.’s Largest Traveling Midway." Also, new games are designed to challenge the steadiest of hands, including Whopper Water Game (a new twist on an old classic where competitors shoot their bear to the top for the chance to win big) and Air Bazooka. The midway also has a new look, including new mascot, more colourful decorations and, with mom and dad in mind, more places to sit and take in the sights and sounds. An all-day ride wristband is priced at $40, with single tickets available for $1.25 each. The rides run from 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday, from 10 a.m. to 1

a.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. Deal alert: At select MarketPlace IGA stores, including the one on Highway 10 in Surrey, a ride pass is $29; the offer ends Friday, May 15 at 4 p.m., and the ride pass does not include gate admission.

6 THE FOOD: Top barbecuers from across Canada return to serve their grilled goodness at this year’s Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair. North Vancouver’s Smoke and Bones, 2012 Canadian National BBQ Champions, will serve up their award-winning

ribs, pulled pork, chicken, beef brisket and famous sides. Ontario favourite Boss Hog’s BBQ will also be on the fairgrounds, along with Prairie Smoke Spice, the acclaimed sizzlers from southern Saskatchewan.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com

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