By: Renee “Belt Drive Betty” Charbonneau
The last weekend of July, I headed for Airdrie and the Airdrie Bikes & Bulls, Rumble on the Runway put on by the Alberta Oilmen’s Association. This was to be my second time attending this event, last year’s was held at the rodeo grounds; this year was to be held at the Airdrie Air Park.
The AOA had decided that the old rodeo grounds, while an accommodating venue to work with, just wasn’t the location to help the event really take off the way it should, and so they negotiated a deal with the Airdrie Airpark.
What a great move!
While they had lots of little hiccups, the venue itself, being such an open canvas, is amazing and will give this event the chance it needs to truly flourish.
Adrian Pruden, the event coordinator, realized very quickly that they had made the beer gardens too big with no people mover, and yes, it made it tough on people. However, based on the numbers of people who did attend, the beer gardens are the right size, they just truly require a people mover! And more seating and garbage cans will be needed next year, but truly, for the first time at this venue, well done! Very well done.
They got around some of the challenges by having waitresses serving at the rodeo event; it made a lot of people happy that they did not have to lose their seats in order to have an adult beverage.
The food vendors were camped out in the middle area of the event so no one had too far to walk. The Perogy truck was one of the favourites along with the Porky’s Catering truck. There were vendors selling jewellery, clothing, makeup and all sorts of gadgets too!
They had a party bus shuttle service that took people to and from various hotels and other locations in Airdrie to ensure no one had to drink and drive. I used the service extensively and was so grateful for it. I left my motorcycle in town at a friend’s house.
They had fantastic security folks on the gates, but there were one or two folk that needed to be told not to be so aggressive in the way they handled things. The senior management of the security team were incredible folks to work with.
The campsite was enormous: there were light towers with power hook ups everywhere, lots of port o potties, the biggest single challenge – no people movers but this is being remedied for 2019!
On Friday when I arrived I volunteered along with my friend Marnie Thibodeau to hang banners for sponsors; I am not sure either of us knew what we signed up for, but four hours later we were done! When the show opened Friday evening, the cowboys and cowgirls took centre stage and, my lord, they put on a show!
I love the silky voice of rodeo announcer Emery Erickson; the man has been working at his trade for decades and he’s damned good at. The kids riding the mini bucking horses stole the show on Friday night!
The bucking stock came from a wide variety of stock contractors, and they brought out some amazingly rank horses and bulls. All in all, there were 28 failed bull ride attempts. There were three successful rides by some of pro rodeo’s TOP cowboys in the Bull Riders of Canada Association.
Between the wild mini horses, mutton busting and drag racing, the kids won the hearts of so many. I love watching family sports and when you think about it, rodeo, drag racing and motorcycling are all very much family sports. I guess that’s why this trifecta seems to work so well.
All weekend there were amazing bands too, but I was so wiped out from walking that venue, doing photography, video and interviews, that I never got to enjoy them. I hear the IKONS, the Kiss Tribute band was utterly amazing.
The big day – Saturday was jam packed with events like the Show ‘n’ Shine.
There was some serious drag racing going on with the Didsbury Car Club hosting!
Folks, although this event is 9 years old, when you move to a new venue, it’s like being a brand new event. ALMOST. This year was a proving ground and while, yes there were challenges, they proved to themselves that they, the Airdrie Oilmen’s Association, can do an amazing job no matter where they host their event because of the most incredible sponsors they have.
TARA Energy, Razor Energy, TOS (Tubular Optimization Service & Products), Pentagon, Airdrie Honda, Cam Clark Ford, IFC, RDI, HSE Integrated, AWM, Muirfield Lakes Golf Club, Cratex, Guns & Hoses, PF Collins, Astro Oilfield Rentals, Core Lab Reservoir Optimization, Destination Cycles, Evolution, McKee Homes, Rig Dawgz Consulting, StreamFlo and so very many others stepped up to assist with WHATEVER this crew needed and, I can guarantee that next year’s event is going to rock even more!
I know the causes are what truly motivate a lot of these sponsors along with the Airdrie Oilmen’s Association to do what they do and to give back into their communities of the Airdrie region (Over $250K). Airdrie Community Links, Airdrie Victims Assistance, and the Airdrie Food Bank are the focal charities.
I had a blast this year, but I also know of many of the changes coming for next year, and folks, you’ll want to be there too. I am sure of it!