The very first Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer — CFR 45 — is coming closer to fruition and Westerner Park recently launched their new brand for central Alberta’s biggest rodeo.
CFR will put a huge focus on athletes, both livestock and human competitors and the marketing that people will see will profile those athletes in the months to come.
“It is the culmination of recognizing the history of CFR but bringing something new to CFR 45 in Red Deer,” Westerner CEO Ben Antifaiff said. “The focus is on the athletes, both the two-legged and four-legged competitors.
“The marketing materials you will see coming out in the next few weeks will be heavily focused on that and we are going to do profiles on both the livestock and the competitors.
“Hopefully it will make it a more intimate experience for the folks who enjoy rodeo.”
Also announced was that central Albertan Brett Gardiner will be the official announcer of CFR 45. Gardiner said the position means a lot.
“I don’t want to oversell it as the greatest job in the world, but probably deep down inside it is for me,” he said. “It is a dream come true for me to be part of the Canadian Finals Rodeo.
“With it coming to Red Deer, it is really special to me because this is home for us. My wife and our three children live in Sylvan Lake so I am 15 minutes away from the very venue that is hosting the greatest, the biggest and the best rodeo in Canada.”
Gardiner began rodeo announcing nearly 15 years ago after his own cowboy career fell short
“I started as a rodeo cowboy who competed and I wasn’t very good,” he said. “I quickly had to find another outlet if I wanted to stay in the rodeo game. I found myself in the announcer stand and the rest is history.”
Trial by fire was how his career started, but he quickly went on to become one of the best rodeo announcers in the world.
“I have had some wonderful mentors along the way,” he said. “That is one of the great things about rodeo. We talk so much about family and helping the next generation — I had five or six gentlemen that really mentored me. There are a lot of announcers from Canada and the United States that I look up to and they are wonderful ambassadors.”
Gardiner said the most important thing he ever learned is to read audiences.
“The best announcers in the world that I look up to have this sixth sense of reading an audience. If you can give the crowd what they want, you will be very successful as an announcer,” he said.
Joining Gardiner will be another announcer, voted on by the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association.
Gardiner said he is excited to bring CFR 45 to new fans.
“Ben Antifaiff and I had a conversation the other day and we have 2,000 to 3,000 people that have never, ever bought a ticket to the Canadian Finals Rodeo before,” he said.
“That puts a smile on my face because we get to welcome new people to the rodeo world and we have a wonderful opportunity to show them the sport that we love.”
Antifaiff added he is excited to share central Alberta with everyone coming to CFR 45.
“Come to our community, celebrate with us and enjoy everything we have to offer. There will be many events both on-site and around the community. Central Albertans are going to welcome you into our community and you will get to have a lot of fun, experiencing something that hasn’t been here before,” he said.