Preparations underway for 2020-21 High School Rodeo season

It wasn't too long ago that the B.C. and Canadian High School Rodeo Finals set for June and July were cancelled, but the 2020-21 High School Rodeo of B.C. season could begin before you know it.

The North Region season will begin with two rodeos in Hudson's Hope Aug. 22 and 23, pending approval from the National High School Rodeo Association. 

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Both the Hudson's Hope rodeos, and rodeos in Valemount Sept. 6 and 7, have already been approved by the B.C. High School Rodeo Association. Two more North Region rodeos are currently being planned for Sept. 12 and 13, and Sept. 18 to 20.

Though last year's season started in August, things usually haven't begun until September.

With the second-half of last season cancelled, and a sense of urgency looming over the upcoming year, the association thought it would be best to get the fall season in earlier than normal.

"The second wave (of COVID-19) could hit this fall, and with all the uncertainty we thought it would be best to get threse rodeos done early," said High School Rodeo of B.C. Secretary Bonny Mills. 

The rodeos will be modified to ensure physical distancing and keep the events safe.

Only three competitors will be allowed to line up with their horse at the gate at a time, and there will be no spectators. Junior events will take place Friday nights and Saturday mornings, while senior events will go Saturday and Sunday afternoons to limit the number of people in the arenas at one time.

"It's pretty exciting, everyone is greaing up to go. So far, so good," Mills said. 

Mills expects a similar number of members from across the province this year, though a high number of graduates from last season — 23 — could keep membership under the count of 125 last season.  

The High School Rodeo Association could struggle a bit this year when it comes to sponsorship, but Mills said they will go forward as best they can. For their part, the association's executive has agreed to rollover sponsors from rodeos that were cancelled last season ,and to feature the flags of each business in the fall rodeos.

"Our sponsors have been very loyal to us over the years, and we're grateful to those who are able to give a bit this year," said Mills. 

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca.

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