BOWDEN — The Bowden Agricultural Society grounds were alive with the sounds of twisting, kicking and snorting bulls on Saturday, Aug. 28 during the first annual Les Supernant Memorial Bull Bash.
Supernant passed away March 6 in Olds at age 62, due to cancer.
He was a longtime, enthusiastic bull rider, but also played many other sports, including golf and hockey. In fact, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings.
About 20 competitors from across Alberta, B.C. and as far away as Australia were scheduled to take part in the event that included novice bull riding and freestyle bull fighting.
One hundred per cent of the proceeds from the event are going to the Olds & District Hospice Society, thanks to the support of many sponsors in Olds and elsewhere who covered costs for it.
Sean Supernant, Les’s nephew, helped organize the competition.
“He was like a father to me growing up, so I just – my family and I, we were wanting to do something so that we could honour and remember him and we came up with this idea,” Sean said.
Sean said organizers began planning the event in March, shortly after Supernant passed away.
He said due to COVID-19 restrictions, organizers wanted to schedule the competition for as far out into the future as they could, yet still have it as close to Les’s Aug. 26 birthday as possible; hence the Aug. 28 date.
Sean, 45, is a former bull rider himself.
“I was at one time, yes. Not any more,” he said with a laugh.
Supernant introduced Sean to the sport.
“I was 10 years old. He was a bullfighter at a rodeo in Tees for an amateur association. He just asked me, ‘do you want to get on a steer?’ And I said, ‘sure, why not?’
“So I rode steers for four or five years. Started riding bulls when I was 14 and then rode ‘till I was about 20,” he said. "it’s definitely an adrenalin rush and lots of fun."
Sean was asked if he missed bull riding and bull fighting.
“Ah, maybe back when I first kind of quit, I did,” he said. “I still enjoy watching it and going out and just taking the family and just enjoying, you know, rodeos, bull riding, all that different kind of stuff. Just the camaraderie around the sport of rodeo is great.”
But his kids aren’t taking up the sport.
“I’ve got two daughters, so I didn’t push the bull riding on to them,” Sean said.
“One was a hockey player and one was an equestrian vaulter and now she’s training to compete in crossfit, so that’s enough to keep us busy.”
Sean said as a rodeo fan and former rodeo competitor it was tough to have no rodeos per se during the height of the COVID-19 restrictions.
“I know a lot of the stock contractors and the competitors, the people that, you know, this is their living and it was pretty tough on them. So I’m glad everything’s opened up and we can get back at it watch these events and enjoy them,” he said.