BOWDEN — The two-day No More Lockdowns Rodeo Rally got underway just south of Bowden on May 1, despite such rodeo events not being allowed, according to Alberta Health Services (AHS).
The rally, initially planned for the Bowden rodeo grounds was later moved to a property on Twp. Rd. 341, just off Highway 2A.
As of last week, organizer Northcott Rodeo Inc. had not obtained an exemption from AHS in order to stage the event. Exemptions for outdoor rodeos allow for up to 10 spectators, with two metres physical distance between households as well as other protocols for organizers and contestants.
The stands were packed with lots of spectators standing. Practically no one was wearing a face mask.
The rodeo was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. but didn’t get going until after that – about 1:15 p.m. or so.
As the crowd waited, the skies grew steadily darker and it got increasingly cold. However, spectators didn’t mind. Many were dressed for the weather, wearing warm jackets. Some even wore toques and mittens. Some had camped there overnight.
While they waited, country music was pumped out from loudspeakers.
When things got going, a rodeo announcer said “The No More Lockdowns Rodeo Rally has quickly become a light of hope for so many.
“We’d just like to remind everyone that we are here today to peacefully gather. We have a right to peacefully assemble and protest and protests are a way for people to make themselves for against decisions made by our government," he said to cheers from several spectators.
“We must remind ourselves, why are we here today? What is our focus? Freedom; and the fact that we believe that all businesses are essential,” he added.
“Today we celebrate everyone who’s joined us in this peaceful assembly and today we take a stand – for not only ourselves, but our future, our children, our grandchildren and for everyone who comes with us.”
That statement sparked more cheers.
Rodeo contestants and spectators came from across the province. Scheduled rodeo events included bareback riding, saddle bronc, novice bareback, novice saddle bronc and bull riding.