What does it take to get a community rodeo to its 60th anniversary?

“A lot of community involvement, a lot of commitment from fellow neighbours and friends and neighbouring associations—in  this case Lake Bellevue Ag Society. They came over and gave us a hand through the George Canyon concert and helped us prepare for some of the rodeo,” said Kevin Wirsta, a longtime volunteer with Stoney Lake Community.

The community celebrated its 60th annual rodeo this weekend, and Wirsta believes it’s their best-attended ever.

The weekend festivities kicked off on Friday with a “Pasture Party” featuring country music star
George Canyon. There were rodeo events and a dance on Saturday, and then more rodeo competition on Sunday.

Wirsta says competitors love coming to Stoney Lake, a spot he describes as a “hidden gem” in Alberta’s Lakeland.

“They love Stoney Lake. The weather’s always great, the ground is phenomenal, everybody likes to participate here and we put on quite a show,” he said.

The location couldn’t be more beautiful.

“If you like the water, the water is right across the road. Bring your boat and enjoy the afternoon on the lake, and come enjoy the rodeo in the evening or in the afternoon,” Wirsta said. “It’s a great facility, and with the help of all the volunteers and the commitment to it, it comes together at the end of the day.”

The spirit of volunteerism and the sponsorship of community-based businesses are the forces that sustain the Stoney Lake Community Hall and stampede grounds, he said. 

“I should throw a big shoutout to the sponsors, because without them our facilities would not exist. You know they’re a big participant in our programs.”

The community gets good use out of the facility.

“We have activities all summer long,” Wirsta said. “The place is rented every weekend between rodeos and weddings and anniversaries and school reunions and just good old parties—they like to come here to Stoney Lake.”

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Junior cowboy hangs on to a bucking steer. JEFF GAYE
Barrel racer comes barrelling for the finish line. JEFF GAYE
“What goes up…” Even a good ride can end with a hard landing. JEFF GAYE
It takes a good eye and a steady hand to rope a running calf from a galloping horse. JEFF GAYE