Sponsors stampede to feed Alberta

Chuckwagons: Brakemen made up of local businessmen

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 01:48 pm

Jordie Fike, who lives in the MD of Foothills, had his tarp sell for $130,000 at the 2013 Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby tarp auction on March 21 in Calgary.
Jordie Fike, who lives in the MD of Foothills, had his tarp sell for $130,000 at the 2013 Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby tarp auction on March 21 in Calgary.
Bruce Cambpell/OWW

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An MD of Foothills chuckwagon driver and some local sponsors are trying to put the brakes on hunger in southern Alberta.

The Brakemen, a consortium of sponsors including Silvertip Doug McLaughlin of High River Autoplex and RV and Earl Hale of Okotoks, purchased Mitch Sutherland’s tarp for $75,000 at the Calgary Stampede tarp auction March 21 in Calgary.

Meanwhile, chuckwagon driver Jordie Fike from west of High River had his tarp go for a whopping $130,000 to BD&P Put the Boots to Hunger.

The Brakemen plan to resell Sutherland’s tarp to different sponsors for each of the 10 days of racing in Calgary, with the proceeds going to Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids.

“It’s a lunch program which helps underprivileged children in the Calgary area,” Hale said. “What we will do is sell the tarp for each of the night of racing with the proceeds going to Brown Bagging.”

Sutherland said he is glad to be driving for a group who is helping feed children.

“I think it’s great,” Sutherland said. “I will be happy to talk to the different sponsors they have lined up — it’s all part of the experience.”

The Brakemen, which includes Shift Resources out of Calgary, also inadvertently made sure chuckwagon driver Colt Cosgrave won’t go hungry for a while. Cosgrave is a long-time friend of McLaughlin and the RV dealer was willing to chip in a few more bucks so the Brakemen’s tarp would be on top of Colt’s polka-dotted wagon.

McLaughlin had his arm going up-and-down like a know-it-all in a Grade 6 class. The Brakemen lost in a bidding war to Tsuu Tina First Nation who bought Cosgrave’s tarp for $170,000, second only to Kelly “The King” Sutherland’s $200,000.

McLaughlin stopped bidding at $165,000.

“I thought we had enough to buy his tarp, but the guys we were bidding against had more money,” McLaughlin said. “I am really happy for Colt because it is a great shot in the arm for him and Tsuu Tina is a great sponsor. Colt had them last year.

“The good thing is it also means we have more money for the charity and Mitch is a great guy and will be a great spokesman. We’re happy to have him.”

The Brakemen also had their sites on Fike, but pulled out.

The price for Fike has gone up. His tarp was purchased by Put the Boots to Hunger for $80,000 at Fike’s first kick at the Stampede in 2011.

“I was surprised we had to pay more for Jordie, but I am really happy for him,” said Keoma Duce of Put the Boots to Hunger. “Jordie is an amazing advocate for the sport and he understands the sponsor-driver relationship very well.

“He is just a quality guy.”

Put the Boots to Hunger will work the same way as the Brakemen. They will sell the tarp for the 10 shows the proceeds going to food banks in southern Alberta including in Okotoks and High River.

Fike’s $130,000 was the sixth highest among the 36 drivers on the auction block — his total was $10,000 more than defending Stampede champion Troy Dorchester.

The amount surpassed the 25-year-old Fike’s own expectations.

“The auction dropped off quite a bit by the time I came up,” Fike said. “I thought if I could get $80,000 I would be pretty happy… but I tell ya, all the money will go straight into the horses.”

Fike admitted he is quiet guy, but he said he has no problems talking to sponsors.

“Most of the sponsors want to talk about horses and wagons,” Fike said with a smile. “I could talk about that all day because I love it so much.”

He said he is looking forward to working with the charity group again. He said he was able to visit food banks and do a number of fundraising events his last time with the organization such as painting food bowls.

Helping to feed Albertans is nothing new for chuckwagon drivers.

Okotoks driver Mark Sutherland has organized the Encana-World Professional Chuckwagon Association’s Race Against Hunger at various food banks on the pro circuit.

bcampbell@okotoks.greatwest.ca


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