Some of the world’s top cowboys and cowgirls are set to compete in the Canadian Finals Rodeo, and local businesses will reap the benefits.
CFR 48 will begin Wednesday and end Sunday at the Peavey Mart Centrium in Red Deer’s Westerner Park. Over the course of the event, there will be six rodeo performances, in addition to live entertainment, a trade show and more on-site.
The Red Deer region will experience an economic impact in excess of $35 million through this year’s CFR, Westerner Park CEO Mike Olesen said. A lot of that will be seen through things like employment and the retail and hospitality sectors, he added.
“We’re hearing a lot from the hotels and restaurants that are really looking for to the massive influx of business,” said Olesen.
“We’re seeing more celebration by the community around these events. We want Red Deer to take advantage of the attention.”
The CFR was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. COVID also impacted the 2021 event, which was smaller than it had been in previous years.
“We had maybe 90 days effectively to plan the (2021) event and that was still hanging on the potential that restrictions could change,” Olesen explained.
“There were so many added dynamics we needed to manage last year that allow us this year to really get past that and move on to enhance the experience for fans.”
Rene Rondeau, Tourism Red Deer executive director, said the CFR is one of the “great events” that Red Deer is fortunate to host.
“It’s a great injection into our community financially and a nice kickstart for where we want to be in terms of hosting events,” said Rondeau.
The Agri-Trade Equipment Expo will be held at Westerner Park the week immediately following CFR. Rondeau said hotels expect to be packed over the next couple of weeks for the two events.
“The majority of (hotels) are getting full if they’re not full already. They know the crunch is coming with CFR and Agri-Trade,” he said.
“The biggest challenge we have right now is the capacity levels, with the amount of staff available at those hotels. Only so many rooms can be open relative to the amount of staff they have. But it’s exciting to see the hotels are getting full and it’s an encouraging sign that we want to see.”
Events like these provide an opportunity to “shine a light” on Red Deer and central Alberta, Rondeau added.
“This is a chance for us to show our hospitality and great community spirit. We have amazing things to do here and places to go see. There are some great hotels and people behind those places working their butt off to make sure we’re doing a great job for those who are visiting,” he said.
Scott Robinson, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce CEO, said many want to be a part of a national championship rodeo.
“When you look at the CFR and the number of people from all over Western Canada coming to our city to experience that major event, you’ll see a lot of spinoff in the community,” said Robinson.
“Obviously, hotels where people are staying, restaurants and even shopping centres will benefit from CFR. I remember last year when I was shopping, I happened to go into a business in town and the staff wasn’t sure why it was so busy – I said, ‘Well it’s probably because the CFR is in town.’”
Between the CFR and Agri-Trade Equipment Expo, the next couple of weeks will be “probably the biggest weeks in hospitality” for Red Deer this year, said Robinson.