While winter is very much still alive in the Peace Region, the B.C. High School Rodeo Association is starting to anticipate the return of the rodeo season. While rodeos don't resume until April, the association is busy looking ahead to the spring and anticipating what its season could look like.
"We're working on a tentative schedule right now, while we wait for our sanctions from the (National High School Rodeo Association). We're planning ahead with hopes of being able to rodeo, follow protocols, and maintain social distance," said BCHSRA secretary Bonny Mills.
The association was able to hold four rodeos in the fall, and after missing the entire 2020 spring season, is eager to put a proper finish on the 2020-21 season. They will keep an eye on what new restrictions are in place by the spring, and ensure the precautions taken in the fall are used again, which include only kids who are competing and volunteers being present at the arena, no fans, and families camping only within their bubbles.
"We'll have lots of rules in place, and are really hoping it works out because the kids absolutely missed not having rodeos last spring," Mills said.
Grade 5 cowboys and cowgirls
Starting in the fall, there will be a whole new age participating in junior high rodeos, thanks to the NHSRA's decision to allow Grade 5 students to compete starting with the 2021-22 season.
While Mills doesn't think there will be a lot of Grade 5 students saddling up right away, she does think it will become a popular thing over time. Many kids compete in the BC Little Britches Rodeo Association until Grade 5, eagerly anticipating the day they can join their older siblings on the high school circuit starting in Grade 6.
"I think we'll see a lot of kids competing in both Little Britches and High School Rodeo when they hit their Grade 5 year," said Mills.
No gala again
For the second straight year, there will be no BCHSRA North Region rodeo gala this April. The popular event is traditionally the region's most important fundraiser, raising more than $25,000 to help cover the cost of putting on rodeos. However, with public events still not being allowed, the association has had to get creative this year.
Mills said while the association was affected by not having the gala last year, they were allowed to roll over sponsorships to this current season (with the 2020 spring rodeos not taking place) and it was a big help. This year, they are teaming up with the BCHSRA's South Region to hold an online auction, with funds being split evenly between both regions.
"Two days of rodeo typically costs $16,000 so they are expensive to put on," said Laura James, a directore with the South Region.
"We're getting lots of interest in this new format. Online things like this seem to be the way the future is going, so this is a good opportunity to try it."
While the association hopes to make the auction an annual thing, Mills said the gala will definitely be back once events are allowed to take place again.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.