Red River Riding and Roping Arena hosting high school rodeo competition this weekend

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Isis Schapansky of Tisdale rounds the corner during the senior barrel racing portion of the Lakeland Ford High School Rodeo at the Red River Riding and Roping Arena in September 2020.

For the last couple of years, Labour Day weekend has meant the Saskatchewan High School Rodeo Association will be paying a visit to the Red River Riding and Roping Arena.

That will be the case once again on Saturday and Sunday as the SHSRA kicks off their 2021-22 season with the Lakeland Ford High School Rodeo at the facility, which is located just north of Prince Albert.

“I know the kids are all excited and most of the parents are also,” RRRR Arena barn director and event chair Larry Henry said on Friday.

“There’s a lot of work and a little bit of driving that takes place, but we’re ready to get started again and for the kids to renew their friendships, which is really important.”

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s event was limited to 150 spectators due to the protocols that were in place by the province and the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

“We had to stop traffic at the gates on both days, so it showed us that people we’re looking for something to do,” Henry said.

“It’s not really lake weather anymore so we’re expecting to get a good crowd for both days, especially since we aren’t capping the crowd at 150 like a year ago. I think it will be pretty similar to what we saw back in 2019.”

While the final entry list won’t be known until the weekend, organizers are expecting 150 competitors to be on the grounds for the event, which is up from the 110 that were in attendance a year ago.

“We actually just got an email from the SHSRA on Thursday saying that the overall membership in the province is now at 200 competitors,” Henry said.

“It (the SHSRA) has definitely been growing over since we started going to events with our daughter Kaci around four years ago, as I think the membership was only at 110 members at that point.”

The two-day competition will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an admission fee of $5 for both days.

“We’re going to try and keep as much parking close to the outdoor as we can so we can have easy access to the facility for the seniors, and there’s plenty of space for people to move around and sit during the weekend,” Henry said.

“It should be a great event and the forecast looks to be okay for both days. The rodeo grounds are in fantastic shape and the rain that we’ve had here lately was a very welcome sight for all of us.”