Hundreds of fans cheered loudly as the professional rodeo returned to the Raymond Stampede Canada Day weekend after a 43-year absence.
Marly Milner, a stampede fan, said it’s wonderful to have the pros back in town for the Stampedes’ 120th birthday.
“I am super excited,” said Milner. “It’s good to have all the cowboys and cowgirls, and everyone come and show their support here.”
Duane Kesler, owner of Kesler Championship Rodeo and Raymond resident, agreed that the return of the rodeo was a welcome treat.
“I think professional rodeo in southern Alberta is coming back bigger and stronger than ever,” said Kesler.
His family has been involved in the Raymond stampede for decades. Following in the rodeo stock contractor footsteps of both his father and grandfather, he was happy organizers had asked him to provide horses and bulls for the event.
“You know there’s a lot of history in Raymond with the Stampede,” said Kesler. “By the size of the crowd that we saw here yesterday and the one we see today, it shows that the people want to see professional rodeo here in southern Alberta.”
Earlier this year, the province announced a new school will be built on the existing historic stampede grounds with plans to break ground in 2023. The Town of Raymond has not yet come to a firm decision on a new location for the fairgrounds.
Robert Heggie, president of the Raymond Stampede, said funding plays a large role in whether they can host the Stampede in the future.
“It looks very good right now,” said Heggie. “We had a sell-out crowd yesterday… We’re focused and we’re looking forward to next year already.
“People need to put this on their bucket list to make sure they come to the Raymond Stampede because bar none, it’s one of the best ones you’ll see.”
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