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Inaugural event a mixed success
The Western Indian Rodeo & Exhibition Association was host to the Richest Indian Rodeo. It kicked off on May 21 in Merritt, BC and ran throughout the long weekend.
The rodeo attracted contestants from as far away as New Mexico, Washington, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Part of the attraction was the wild card spot offered from the International Indian Finals Rodeo (IIFR) in Farmington, New Mexico to be held in October.
Cowboys lucky enough to compete in the richest Indian rodeo saw an unmatched $277,000 payout in prize money.
“The turnout has been the grandest we’ve had in Merritt,” said events coordinator Vi Antoine. “The bleachers were full of spectators during these rodeo events…it’s an encouraging positive light that western lifestyle is present and out here.”
Coyote Creek’s Ted Marchand provided the bucking bulls with sub-contracting to Shawn Perry and Ed Labourdais from Kamloops. Ty Prescott from Calgary was contracted for horse stock.
This event allowed for stock from the PBR (Professional Bull Riders Association) and CFR (Canadian Finals Rodeo Association), a match-up with top-notch rodeo athletes.
Winners to the following events will receive a seat in the upcoming IIFR 2010:
Bareback, Ty Taypotat; Saddle Bronc, Chad Eneas; Bull Riding, Tuck Johnson; Steer Wrestling, Nick Clairmont; Tie Down Roping, Curt Taypotat; Ladies Breakaway, Denise Swampy; Ladies Barrel Racing, Jill Welsh; Team Roping, Elliot Benjamin & Jackson Louis, Sr.; Breakaway, Britt Givens, Jr.; Barrels, Caley Williamson, Jr.; Bulls, Cody Coverchuk.
One contestant that stood out during this weekend event was bull riding. Cody Coverchuk from Meadow Lake, Sask. is the reigning IIFR junior bull-riding champion. Cody lived up to expectations and rode exceptionally well over the weekend. Other notable mentions were Chad Eneas, who won the Saddle Bronc wild-card and was a close runner-up in qualifying for the IIFR in the bull-riding event.
The Nicola Tribal Association, the organizing body, brought together four charitable organizations together (hospice, diabetes, cancer, and youth). Over 450 contestants came out during the three-day event; Saturday and Sunday exceeded 2,000 spectators each day.
“We applaud the Nicola Tribal Association staff and volunteers for their efforts, their vision and meeting their goal for three days” said Edison Bitsui International Indian Finals Rodeo Commissioner.
The cold weather had an impact to this first year’s nightly entertainment that included Shane Yellowbird, Crystal Shawanda, and Derek Miller. Low attendance to the outdoor nightly entertainment caused financial strain, so much so that the rodeo was discontinued for the Monday’s events as they were beginning the morning slack.
Bitsui released this comment in response to the Monday cancelled schedule.
“To respond to some of the comments being made regarding the event, I would like to clarify that no one was short paid and Monday fees were re-imbursed. Contract personal and contestants have been paid in full.”
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