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Bowden parade organizers aim to prevent Sundre-type incident

Organizers will be watching very closely to make sure there are no floats in the Bowden parade with political or racialized messages, says mayor
MVT bowden parade 2019
Riders make their way along the parade route during the Bowden Daze parade in 2019. File photo/MVP Staff

BOWDEN — In the wake of a parade incident in Sundre, the Town of Bowden will be watching entrants to its parade very closely to make sure it has no floats with political or racialized messages, mayor Robb Stuart says. 

The parade in Bowden as well as a pancake breakfast are scheduled for July 16, in celebration of the Bowden Daze Rodeo. 

That event, run by the Bowden Agricultural Society, runs from July 15-16 this year. 

During a rodeo parade June 25 in Sundre, a man in a tractor with a mask on, presumably to depict Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pulled a manure spreader with a sign on it that said The Liberal. Sitting inside was a man wearing a fake turban and sporting a fake beard. 

The entry was denounced by organizers of the parade who said it wasn’t approved by them. Denunciations of the “float” were all over social media.  

Several politicians also denounced it, saying it appeared to not only be political commentary but also racist. 

During an interview June 29, Stuart said normally over the years, town officials and volunteers who organize the Bowden parade have been pretty loose when it came to authorizing floats in the event. 

Not this year, not after what happened in Sundre. 

“You’re supposed to register for the parade, but most times, you know, sometimes somebody just shows up,” Stuart said. 

“If they have an old car or something like that, it’s not a big deal. But I think with the Sundre incident we’ve got to be a little more careful. 

“Because of the Sundre incident, there will be a little more overview, I would call it.”  

Stuart said the purpose of the parade is to celebrate various aspects of the community, not make political or racist statements. 

He noted that this year’s theme is The Year of the Garden, picking up on a national theme. 

“Political or personal agendas cannot come into it," he said.

On May 1 last year, an event called the No More Lockdowns Rodeo Rally was held on land owned by Ty and Gail Northcott, near the intersection of Highways 2 and 2A. 

It was held to protest COVID-19 restrictions. 

As a result, the Northcotts were charged with violating the Public Health Act. 

Their trial is scheduled to be held Oct. 13 and 14 this year in Red Deer provincial court. 

At the time of the rally/rodeo there was lots of confusion about where it was held, with many people thinking it was a Bowden event. Stuart and Bowden Ag Society officials stressed it had nothing to do with them. 

Stuart said more than a year after that rodeo/rally, he’s still getting questions about it. 

“I said yeah, there’s a rodeo again this year, but this is one that’s officially sanctioned and there was one last year that was officially sanctioned. But the other incident had absolutely nothing to do with the town," he said.