Old rope lets old roper down in Alder Flats

Rippin’ and ropin’ - Tie-down roper Steve Gross loses his hat but not his concentration while trying to rope a calf during the Alder Flats Rodeo on May 28.

Rippin’ and ropin’ - Tie-down roper Steve Gross loses his hat but not his concentration while trying to rope a calf during the Alder Flats Rodeo on May 28.

ADAM JACKSON/Rimbey Review

The broncs were bucking and the ropes were flying in Alder Flats.

On May 27 and 28 more than 50 cowboys and cowgirls competed in a variety of events.

The Central Alberta Rodeo Association sanctioned event, which took place at the Alder Flats Rodeo Grounds, drew a large crowd on both days, consistently filling the grandstands.

Cowboys and cowgirls, young and old were present and competing in a smorgasbord of different events, from the ‘Mighty Mite Goat Tail Tying’ to bareback bronc riding.

Easily the oldest competitor at the rodeo was team-roper Fred Thompson from Drayton Valley. The 82-year-old, who competes with his son, Earl, has seen his fair share of rodeos in his time.

At the rodeo in Alder Flats, though, an old rope let him down.

When it was their turn to participate in the team-roping event, Earl, the header, had a quick rope around the calf’s head, but Thompson, who was the heeler, just missed the rope around the heels.

“I hadn’t picked up a rope in a while, and I grabbed an old rope (for the rodeo) and it just wasn’t working. It kinked up on me and I was mad,” said Thompson.

Thompson used to be a calf-roper as well, but at the age of 82, he has been forced to cut his events down to just team roping.

Fred started roping at the young age of 17 on his family farm, where he developed a love for the sport.

“We were basically born on horses,” said Thompson

It was evident by the announcer’s comments at the rodeo that Thompson continues to shock the rodeo world by competing at his age, but he insists that he’s not going to quit anytime soon.

“I’m going to keep going as long as I can go, I don’t intend to quit yet,” said Thompson.

Thompson suspects that the next rodeo he competes at will be in Rimbey on July 9 and 10.