Roper looking forward to competing in High River

Rodeo: Guy Weadick event is FCA’s premier stop

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 11:03 am

Blackie’s Sloan Smith is looking forward to finally getting to rope at the High River’s Guy Weadick rodeo. He missed last year’s event when it was cancelled due to the flood.
Blackie’s Sloan Smith is looking forward to finally getting to rope at the High River’s Guy Weadick rodeo. He missed last year’s event when it was cancelled due to the flood.

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A Blackie cowboy is looking forward to finally competing again in High River for the first time since he was wearing Little Britches.

Sloan Smith, a roper from Blackie, had his heart set on competing at the 2013 Guy Weadick Rodeo in High River, however, that event was cancelled due to the pernicious flood.

“I was planning to compete in High River on the Sunday before heading to another rodeo in Delburne,” said Smith, a Grade 12 student at Highwood High School. “But when everything went south, I ended up just going to Delburne.”

He is back better than ever for the 2014 Guy Weadick Rodeo this week in High River. Smith is currently sitting in fourth place in the Foothills Cowboy Association standings in team roping with Hays McRae from High River.

He faced a real test when the flood hit High River on June 20, 2013.

“I was writing a final exam at Highwood and then I went to my mom’s office in High River and the next thing I knew the town was all flooded,” Smith said. “We left early enough to get home okay.”

He hasn’t competed in High River since he was young enough to compete in the Little Britches Rodeo.

“It did kind of suck,” Smith said of the cancellation last year. “High River was going to be one of the highest-paying rodeos of the year. If you can place in High River, it will help you place and give you some money to go down the road.”

He said it will be sentimental when he is up on Sunday, just two days after the anniversary of the flood.

“To compete in my hometown rodeo is kind of nice,” Smith said. “The fact there is going to be a lot of money makes it even better.”

The Guy Weadick rodeo is the premier stop on the FCA circuit, according to association president Dave Clark.

“It will be the marquee stop for us, with the wagons being there and the great community,” Clark said. “Our office is there, and the community has got behind us.

“The prize money that has been added has really accelerated things for High River and I know our competitors want to come there and really perform well for the people of High River.”

A lot of the fans in the stands will be relatives of the gals and guys on the horses and the bulls. The FCA is where top cowboys like Ty Thomson and Sam Kelts cut their teeth — and many of the up-and-comers are from the Okotoks-High River area.

“We try to get our local guys in the perf,” Clark said. “So if you’re from around here and going to the show, you are likely going to see a local performer.”

Some of the local competitors include Kendra Edey of Longview, Erin Coy of High River, Sasha Noval of Black Diamond-Turner Valley, Todd Snodgrass of Longview and the Vernon family from Millarville.

One of the locals who will be there is veteran rodeo clown Dennis Halstead from Okotoks.

Halstead was evacuated from the High River grounds last year on June 20 – the day the event was scheduled to start.

“It was supposed to start that night and that was when we got evacuated,” Halstead said. “We’re very lucky to play our sport and when this sort of thing happen you realize it is just a sport. You are thinking of the safety of the community, the people, crops and houses.”

He feels an obligation to provide a few laughs.

“Hopefully, by coming out they (High River residents) can laugh and smile and we can make a change for them too,” Halstead said. “And it is supposed to be nice this weekend, so it’s going to be a great weekend.”

The Guy Weadick Rodeo will run Thursday and Friday at the High River Agricultural Society grounds at 5 p.m. On Saturday, they will go at 3 p.m. The final day of the rodeo is Sunday at 1 .m.

The Guy Weadick Chuckwagon races will take place shortly after the rodeo.

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