Western Canada's best up-and-coming cowboys and cowgirls will be competing in Vermilion this weekend.
The Lakeland College Rustlers are hosting the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (CIRA) finals at Vermilion's Equine Centre this Thursday to Saturday.
The event will attract the top 110 rodeo athletes from Manitoba to British Columbia for competition in the sports of team roping, steer wrestling, goat tying, bareback riding, saddle bronc, bull riding, tie-down roping, breakaway roping, pole bending and barrel racing.
Braiden Bach, president of the CIRA, said each of these athletes will be competing to earn the most accumulative points over the first two nights in order to give them a chance to earn a buckle during the final Saturday evening performance.
He said awards for the overall season standings champion will also be presented at the CIRA finals, as will the Cowboy and Cowgirl of the Year prizes.
"They compete competitively for the association, (but) they help other athletes to reach their goals as well," said Bach, about the Cowboy and Cowgirl of the Year awards.
"It's the most prestigious award in rodeo and there is no real set goals for it. You don't have to have x amount of points or anything like that."
Bach said the CIRA finals was moved to Vermilion this year in an effort to reduce high overhead costs that plague the event when it is hosted in larger cities.
He said the smaller centre should produce a tighter knit group and a more hometown rodeo feeling.
The 110 athletes who will be competing in Vermilion this weekend represent the best amateur cowboys and cowgirls in Western Canada, added Bach, so it should be circled as a can't miss event for anyone eager to witness the future of rodeo today.
"People go from our association and move on to compete in other amateur associations, as well as the pro rodeo associations like the CCA (Canadian Cowboys Association) and the PCA (Professional Cowboys Association)," said Bach.
"In the CFR (Canadian Finals Rodeo) last year, we had three guys from our association win there. As well in the past there have always been a couple of contenders for pro rodeo associations winning their finals. So, it's always neat to watch the cowboys and cowgirls grow as competitors."
Story provided by: Jamie Harkins, Meridian Booster