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THURSDAY, AUGUST 15 - SUNDAY, AUGUST 18 COME TO VIRDEN FOR GREAT RODEO ACTION! The Virden Indoor Rodeo has been voted “Rodeo of the Year” by the cowboys and cowgirls multiple times over the last two decades. Virden Indoor Rodeo & Wild West Daze was honoured to have been named “Event of the Year” at the 2015 Tourism Westman Tribute to Tourism Awards. Efforts were once again acknowledged when presented with the Manitoba Tourism Event of the Year 2015. Proving the longstanding popularity, the rodeo is entering it’s 31st year. There’s no two ways about it. Cowboys, cowgirls and fans all come to Virden in August for great rodeo action.

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Virden Empire-Advance

August 09, 2019

Gees to be inducted into Horseman’s Hall of Fame By Anne Davison

Grant and Kim Gee have contributed to the horse world locally and abroad for over 40 years. Best known as Morsky Roselea Belgians, the Gees have raised Belgians on their property a couple of miles south of Virden for the better part of two decades. Partners with Wayne Morsky (former Virdenite, now Regina businessman), the Gees have shown Morsky Roselea Belgians in large shows such as Canadian Western Agribition and the Calgary Stampede. The Gees have also supported the ‘Milk Run’ and local fairs with their drafts and light horse entries over the years. Grant Gee is well known as a trainer and their Belgian stock have found homes all the way to Texas. The rodeo committee established the “Horsemen’s Hall of Fame” to honour some of the people who have made an exemplary contribution as breeders, promoters, organizers, competitors, or in countless other ways. The Gees certainly fill that bill. Grant and Kim each have a strong background in the horse industry. Grant’s father Don Gee, a horseman all his life and one of the first PMU contractors in the 1960s, also raised Belgians. He was the recipient of the Horseman’s Hall of Fame in 2005. Kim’s father, Ken Bridgeman, was also among the original PMU contractors. Bridgeman became well known for his herd of Appaloosa horses and passed on his love of horses to his family as well. “I grew up on a horse,” says Kim. “I’ve ridden PFRA (community) pasture, I’ve done a little bit of it all, a little bit of rodeo when I was young.”

The couple met at a PMU function. “It was history from there. We got married and we’ve been married 26 years now.” The Gees have also raised the next generation - their three children, Kelsey, Nicolas and Kacee, to follow in their footsteps. Kim considers this to be their most important accomplishment noting, “Our kids have done very well.” The Gees are slowing down, not actively showing now. They are hoping to do more travelling, to visit horsey friends and enjoy horses in the south when winter takes over in Manitoba. Although they still have an ongoing breeding program, the horses are going to their son Nicolas this fall. Locally, the Gees continue to support the industry they love. “We’ve always been involved with the shows even if we’re not showing.” They volunteer with the Virden Draft Horse Show, providing behind the scenes work to help make the show the success that it is. Along with their personal achievements in the show ring and seeing the next generation take hold in the industry, there are other rewards. “I love the spring when the mares are foaling,” says Kim. “And showing, for sure – driving. I love driving carts.” Training the drafts is Grant’s passion. Along with educating their own young stock to behave, to drive safely and in style, he also takes in outside horses, training for others. It is very satisfying to see progress, the big difference in the horses from when they come to the farm (some barely halter broke) and when they leave, explains Kim. But Grant’s work is most thoroughly proven in the six-horse hitch. That’s a

Grant and Kim Gee, on a holiday in 2017, standing in front of the Cowgirl Statue at the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. PHOTO/SUBMITTED

big highlight for him. “Driving the six, it’s a high,” he says. Grant also works full-time with Mainline Enterprises. Kim has a cleaning business and she is a wedding decorator. “I was surprised when they called me.

I was kind of shocked. I was actually decorating a wedding when I got the phone call,” she says. “Both Grant and I were very honoured, we really appreciate it. It’s nice to be recognized.”

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Brown is 2019 Gerry Holmes Memorial winner By Heather Reimer

Horseman Lyle Brown remembers the first few years of the Virden Indoor Rodeo in the late ‘80s. The event was brand new and going through the natural growing pains. Organizers called on Brown for some trouble-shooting given his vast experience with rodeo. That’s when the bug bit him. “After the first couple of years, I said I’d like to come on the board and have more to do with it ahead of time rather than patching up after!” And that’s how he wound up spending nearly three decades volunteering for the Virden rodeo, on the executive

boys and girls who are willing to travel farther, drawn by bigger prize money and trinkets. “Things like saddles and buckles – we didn’t have any of that at the start. Now the purses are $2,000 to $3,000 per event and $6,000 in team roping, compared to $250 an event back then.” In fact, he says, many young rodeo competitors are coming to the Virden area to work because of the enthusiasm for rodeo they find here. Brown suggests they should start calling it The Cowboy Capital of Manitoba. Another change that’s happened under his care: his family has grown up and grown right into their own cowboy boots. Son Lonnie is the chair of the western

Rodeo has been very good to me. It’s an honour to give back. - Lyle Brown

board and wearing various other hats while earning the praise of Past President Everett More who calls him a “solid rock”. Brown says he keeps coming back to the rodeo because, “I live and breathe the horse industry. I competed up until about 10 years ago when I started backing out. But I used to go to a lot of rodeos. I’ve been passionate about it and proud of the Virden rodeo - it’s become the elite rodeo in the province and in western Canada.” He reflects on the changes he’s witnessed over the life of the Virden rodeo that have attracted a broader base of what he calls weekend warriors – cow-

rodeo this year and Shane works with the calf ropers. Brown’s young grandchildren all have horses and rope, says Grampa proudly. “The kids are aspiring to become what their dads and grampa are.” About the Award: Each year the Virden Indoor Rodeo and Wild West Daze recognizes a volunteer who has made an exceptional commitment to the production of the weekend’s events by awarding them the Gerry Holmes memorial award. It is presented in memory of Gerry Holmes who was a dedicated leader of this event for many years.

Lyle Brown, long-time rodeo volunteer, to be honoured.

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Virden Empire-Advance

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Virden Empire-Advance

August 09, 2019

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August 09, 2019

Virden Empire-Advance

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Rodeo has a new president By Anne Davison

New for 2019, Thomas Hagan, at 35 has stepped up from the ranks of volunteers to take the reins as president of Virden Indoor Rodeo & Wild West Daze (VIRWWD). Everett More was ready to become the past-president and to pass the baton. Hagan, already vice-president, was ready to run with it. “My family’s always been involved. I think it is really important to volunteer,” he stated. In fact, Hagan’s mother, Jocelynn Hagan, was the president before More took the head seat. VIRWWD is now celebrating 31 years of rodeo. Hagan is aware of the many who have gone before him to make this a top event in the eyes of the competitors, appreciative crowds and the community of Virden. The Virden signature event has been voted “Rodeo of the Year” by the cowboys and cowgirls multiple times over the last two decades. During More’s tenure as president VIRWWD was lauded as “Event of the Year” in the $5,000 and over category at both the 2015 Tourism Westman Tribute to Tourism and at the Manitoba Tourism awards. Drawing crowds of both competitors and spectators, it’s a highly entertaining money-making event. So, in such a well-run event, Hagan doesn’t plan on making any changes just for the sake of change. “It’s a strong board and we’re taking over a really successful event.” He points to Shootout Sunday as a very successful change that Lonnie Brown, as Western Rodeo Chair, implemented. So rodeo action includes three performances, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, with Shoot-Out Sunday being the ‘short go’. The top 10 competitors return to compete in this final evening. “It’s a heck of a performance,” says Hagan. “It’s not very often you get to see the cream of the crop, all in one day.” Last year, the Saturday night program was heavy with hometown talent and the crowds appreciated it. “We packed the arena.”

VIRWWD is overseen by an umbrella committee and within that structure, there are a number of committees that organize each facet of the weekend. Hagan first began with VIRWWD about 14 years ago as chair of the dance committee. He says, “Mona Kenderdine had already made the dance a big event,” with capacity crowds of 800 people attending the Saturday dance in the curling rink. Christine Steele-Berehulk (nee Winters) took over next and she then passed the torch to the Hagans. Hagan comments that although he works hard for the dance, carting crates of drinks and the like, his wife Felicity, “deserves the credit” for this well-run event. And they continue to run the dance. This year the band, Electric Angel, is coming back. “They’ve been awesome. The crowd loves them.” The family is a team in whatever they do. They enjoy their Western lifestyle, operating a cattle spread which combines the latest in grass farming techniques with time-honoured horsemanship to work the cattle. At Hagan Valley Ranch, the cow-calf herd is moved daily to new electric fenced grazing paddocks. They also train horses there, purchasing young ranch and rodeo prospects to turn them into valuable mounts. With the business of ranching and raising their son Rory, plus another child on the way, Hagan no longer rodeos a full circuit himself. Not like he used to. But you will likely see him on the program, steer wrestling at his hometown event. Hagan says it made sense to him to become involved in leading the rodeo event. “My family has always been really involved. My brother, Alistair, was really involved with the MRCA (Manitoba Rodeo Cowboys Association), the association that we sanction our rodeo through. My mother was involved. He feels confident of the committees where the work gets done. As Past-President, More is still on the board as well. “We have those who have been around for so long and have created this event,” Hagan says.

The Hagan family: Felicity, Rory and Thomas Hagan.

Thomas and four-year-old Rory on their grassland range.

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Virden Empire-Advance

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Virden Empire-Advance

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August 09, 2019

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What you need to know about steer wrestling According to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, steer wrestling is the quickest event in professional rodeo. Steer wrestlers combine physical strength with technique to wrestle steer, which typically weigh more than twice as much as the wrestler, to the ground as quickly as possible. Steer wrestlers are often referred to as “bulldoggers” and have a helper known as a hazer. They begin each competition on horseback in a box. When the event begins, the steer is released and gets a head start, the length of which is determined by the size of the arena. When the animal leaves the chute, it trips a barrier line, which signals the cowboy and the hazer to race to each side of the steer. (If the

barrier is broken, the team gets 10 seconds added to their time.) The bulldogger then uses his physical strength and the leverage of his position to corral the steer, aided by the hazer whose job is to prevent the steer from veering away from the bulldogger and keep it running straight. Once the bulldogger reaches the steer, he slides off of his galloping horse and hooks his right arm around the steer’s right horn while grabbing the left horn with his left hand. Once the bulldogger has wrestled the steer to the ground, he must then make sure the steer is on its side and all four feet are pointing in the same direction. Only then is the event considered over.

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August 09, 2019

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Virden Empire-Advance

August 09, 2019

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August 09, 2019

Virden Empire-Advance

15

Behind the scenes with Past-President More By Anne Davison

About 10 years ago Everett More was named Vice-President of Virden Indoor Rodeo & Wild West Daze (VIRWWD) and five years ago he became the president, until 2019, when Thomas Hagan stepped into the role of president. More has watched this award winning weekend of action grow organically over its 31 years of entertaining competition. “One of the highlights of my tenure as president was in 2015, when the rodeo weekend was recognized as Event of the Year by Tourism Westman and then by Manitoba Tourism.” He saw the rodeo become more professional, bigger. The downtown events mushroomed at that time. “None of that is due to me, it was the work of many volunteers. As it expanded there were more things to dovetail together.” More’s keen sense of organization has been hard at work over the years, putting in place important details. “When I became president, I said, ‘Now we need a vice-president’ … and [Thomas’s] mother volunteered him,” he laughs. Inspiring “confidence and enthusiasm” is part of the president’s role says More. “You need them both.” Over the years there have been things that the committee found didn’t fit well. “Now, we’ve kind of settled in with a number of events that all fit together.” “Thomas and I had a talk as he was taking over. I don’t think the president’s

duty is any different than any other organizations. To make sure it is all coordinated.” More says he’s stepping out of many areas of responsibility in his life, working only part-time at Virden Animal Hospital and enjoying more time on his farm. But he is still very active on the board of VIRWWD and understands what makes this event tick. It’s all about the rodeo

rodeo programs in Western Canada according to Lee Bellows, the well-travelled rodeo clown. Taking on the detailed, task More essentially became the program editor. With the help of his partner, Irene Vanin, who helps him choose from the over 500 professional photographs, he oversees the content of the program. FLAGS, PRESENTATIONS He is also responsible for the safekeeping of the

on Friday and on Sunday evenings. Before coming to Virden to practice veterinary medicine in the spring of 1972, Everett More says he was “more of a horse show guy.” But his interest in rodeo grew quickly. He has seen the vast changes from Virden rodeo’s early days as the Firefighters Rodeo, when it began in a parking lot around the curling rink. More continues to make

My goal is to eventually make sure someone else makes things happen. -More

action, and yet it isn’t just that. “The main emphasis is on the rodeo itself, but everything else that contributes to the event, making it a festival, is significantly important. It makes a pretty good weekend of it,” he said. “From Thursday noon with the barbecue, right through to Sunday night, there’s a ton of stuff going on.” EDITOR Back when More became vice-president, he was involved in a key role that he continues to fill, ensuring that the sponsorship that Steve Dryden rounded up was also well recognized. This included the posters on the arena boards, the colourful flags flying as youth gallop around the ring and the printed rodeo program. More put together the very first program which evolved to become a 60page glossy. One of the best

Welcome All Rodeo contestants and spectators

sponsors’ banners that hang in the ring and for more than 25 flags that fly as youth gallop around the ring. That flag presentation has changed over the years as the number of sponsor flags grew. “This year what we’re doing, after each major event we will fly about a half-dozen flags.” This means six young riders will be on standby for each evening. Other program tweaks include the rodeo awards ceremonies and mutton busting. More explains that the vis-à-vis horse and carriage will carry the Horseman’s Hall of Fame and the Gerry Holmes Memorial recipients on Saturday night. One award takes place during the opening ceremonies and the other during the intermission. Children will be mutton busting this year

sure some things happen, but says, “My goal is to eventually make sure someone else makes things happen.”

Past-President of the Virden Indoor Rodeo, Everett More. PHOTO/FILE

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Welcome ⁄rodeo contestants and fans!

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Virden Empire-Advance

August 09, 2019

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Virden Indoor Rodeo & Wild West Daze  

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