This is the 50th anniversary of the Rimbey Exhibition Association (REA) and the years of hard work and longstanding tradition were honoured this year at the Rimbey Rodeo.
“The Rimbey Exhibition Association was formed in December 1965,” said promotions director and treasurer Hazel Street.
Because the snow was already flying Rimbey did not see its first rodeo until the following year.
“We celebrate our 50 years because our association was formed then,” Street explained.
Spen Muddle was the president of the day and Lawrence Calkins was the secretary. “Over the years there’s been many dedicated volunteers to the REA,” said Street. She says this year, as it has been in the past, the REA is made up of a great team of individuals.
During the Rimbey Ro- deo this year the remaining founding and early members: Jim Hale, Delmar Skeels, Gerald Skeels, Ken Smithson, Neval Roper and Lawrence Anderson, were honoured with a wagon ride past the cheering crowd.
In its inaugural year and the following few, the Rimbey Rodeo was a Little Britches Rodeo.
Along with the rodeo events the Rimbey Rodeo featured flat races, pro chuckwagon races and in later years the pony chucks.
Street says it was Tom Dorchester who helped get the pro chuckwagons started in Rimbey.
During the early years of the Rimbey Rodeo horses brought to town were stabled in the old curling rink. “They put posts down the middle and tied the horses on each side,” said Street.
For a while attendance to the rodeo was waning but Street says she has been told numbers are picking back up in recent years. “Delmar (Skeels) said they used to have great crowds, handing off the fences and everywhere.”
Business support for the rodeo and the association also used to be nothing special but Street says it is the complete opposite now. “I can’t stress enough the support we have from local businesses.”
With business, volunteer and crowd support on the rise it is no surprise the REA and rodeo have been a part of the community for five decades.
“Just from my aspect of it I’m so proud there’s been enough interest in it, and commitment from the volunteers,” said Street.
Despite competition the rodeo faces from other events in town Street feels it remains important to the town and those who visit to see it.
The rodeo has also helped other organizations in town by keeping the grounds up to date and neat.
Along with Street, Delmar and Joyce Skeels took the time to dig through old memories and recall the history of the Rimbey Rodeo.