The Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR), held each November in Edmonton, is one serious good time. We love to attend rodeos all over Alberta and spend many a summer weekend travelling around to see them, big or small. The CFR is the ultimate experience though. It’s the biggest indoor pro rodeo in Canada and the culmination of the rodeo season, with prizes up to $1,000,000 for the year’s top earners. It’s our last chance to watch new champions crowned. Then we’ll have to wait the whole winter long until next year’s circuit begins. Lucky for us there’s so much to do that week – it really helps to carry us through.
Everyone expects a boot stomping good time at the CFR and it doesn’t disappoint. See the best of the best compete in saddle bronc, bareback, bull riding, barrel racing, tie-down roping, team roping and steer wrestling. We love to cheer on the young up and comers in novice saddle bronc and novice bareback. But before you dive into six days of rodeo action, check out the pre-parties and special events happening around Edmonton, many of which support a good cause.
Bring your appetite
From pancake breakfasts, chili cook-offs and bison barbeque to a prairie oyster eating contest and an Edmonton top chef competition, one thing is certain – you won’t go hungry during CFR. We always dig into at least one pancake breakfast. Well ok, some years it’s actually two.
And if you have an appetite for one-stop shopping – my personal favourite – the RAM Country Market Place happens for four days at the Edmonton Expo Centre as part of Farmfair International. You’ll find everything from western art, home décor, gift ideas and cowboy gear right through to agricultural equipment and livestock – all under one roof.
Heritage Ranch Rodeo
Competitors from 16 working ranches across western Canada come together at Farmfair to transform traditional ranching methods – developed years ago and still used today – into exciting events that showcase the lifestyle and skills of cattle ranchers.
You’ll also want to be at Farmfair for the cattle shows, stock dog trials and the ever-popular Border Cowboys Mounted Shooters Association Championships. Then sample the food at Home Grown Alberta and hang out at the Saloon. For the little ones, there’s Kids Country where they can try their hand at pint-sized rodeo activities.
My daughter and I try to attend the Miss Rodeo Canada Pageant, to watch some very talented young women compete for next year’s crown. Contestants are judged on a variety of categories including horsemanship, rodeo knowledge and public speaking. There’s also the Ladies of Canadian Professional Rodeo Fashion Show that features contestants vying for the Miss Rodeo Canada crown. Not to be outdone by the ladies, CFR cowboys strut their stuff in the Mr. Rodeo Canada Competition at country and western bar, Knoxville’s Tavern – “the bar your mother warned you about.”
Annual action packed excitement, hearty cowboy cooking, western gear and entertainment for every age and interest. What more could you ask for? Well, since you asked…
Catch an Edmonton Oilers hockey game, if the team is in town. They have a new home: Rogers Place, a state-of-the-art high tech multi-use facility in downtown Edmonton with the largest true high definition centre ice scoreboard in the National Hockey League. If the team is on the road, find out if there are any concerts or special events going on. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Winter Garden.
No trip to Edmonton would be complete without a visit to West Edmonton Mall. The size of a small city, it is the largest indoor shopping and entertainment complex in North America. On the funky side, check out Whyte Avenue in the Old Strathcona district and 124th Street in the Warehouse District, jam-packed with boutiques, galleries, bakeries and fine restaurants.
You’re spoiled for choice in Edmonton, whose unique take on cuisine has put it firmly on the map of go-to culinary destinations. Top chefs draw on the city’s multi-cultural roots to create eclectic dishes using locally sourced produce.
- Western Culture