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Bowden rodeo event defies health restrictions

By Josh Hall, rdnewsNOW

May 2, 2021 | 2:05 PM

BOWDEN, AB – Despite a one-day record of 2,433 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, a large crowd of people, reportedly more than 2,000, showed up at a rodeo event near Bowden.

The event, dubbed the No More Lockdowns Rodeo Rally, was advertised and promoted on the Northcott Rodeo Inc. Facebook page over the past month, to take place both May 1 & 2.

A poster boasts guest speakers such as Rick Kohut, Nadine Wellwood and former Innisfail town councillor/current mayoral candidate Glen Carritt.

It also claims the event is sanctioned by World of Rodeo Canada, an organization with zero discernible online presence.

Pattison Media contacted Northcott Rodeo through its Facebook page, asking for clarification regarding World of Rodeo Canada, if they’d been issued any tickets, if the event was going ahead for day two on Sunday, and why they were willingly defying government restrictions.The only response received was a heart reaction and thumbs up emoji.

Northcott Rodeo did issue a statement April 14, the same day a statement was put out by former event partners the Foothills Cowboys Association (FCA) and Wildrose Rodeo Association (WRA) disassociating themselves with the event.

“Due to the circumstances of our previous agreed upon terms being dismissed by the associations we had been working with on our No More Lockdowns Rodeo Rally we have made the choice to instead partner with World of Rodeo Canada,” Northcott wrote.

“We will not stand by idly and watch as not only our businesses but also our western heritage and more importantly, our basic human rights are ripped out of existence by the tyrannical beings of our current world.”

In their joint statement, the Calgary-based FCA and Ponoka-based WRA said they could not sanction the event, citing Alberta Health Services’ decision that it would not be in accordance with government restrictions related to COVID-19.

“If AHS deems our groups in any way as an organizer or sanctioning body, we chance losing our AGLC license and not for profit status which means the end for the FCA/WRA,” the statement reads. “In closing, we want to protect our members and committees as well as our association so that we can work to sanction more events as the 2021 rodeo season opens up. We do not want to jeopardize our status for one event.”

On Sunday, AHS told Pattison Media it is aware the event took place in breach of orders from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“Prior to the event, AHS inspectors spoke with – and provided written information to – the organizers of the event, notifying them that current CMOH Orders prohibit businesses or entities from offering or providing exhibitions, sporting events, or sporting and performance competitions at this time. In addition, AHS Legal sent a letter to the organizers indicating that the event would be illegal if it were to proceed,” AHS told Pattison Media in a statement Sunday.

“It is disappointing that the organizers ignored this information and went ahead with their event, knowing it was a clear breach of the current public health restrictions. In addition, it is extremely concerning that people would knowingly put their fellow Albertans at risk by ignoring the restrictions, particularly with increasing cases and the subsequent pressure on our healthcare system.

AHS says it is currently considering its legal options.

Sgt. Shawn French with Alberta RCMP K Division says RCMP did attend the event, but any legal ramifications from their end are yet to be determined.

Premier Jason Kenney also chimed in Sunday afternoon on social media, as the rodeo churned on for a second day.

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