Canadian Finals Rodeo coming to Edmonton

A young rodeo fan cheers during the Canadian Finals Rodeo at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta on November 11, 2010. (JORDAN VERLAGE/EDMONTON SUN)



For the uninitiated, the Canadian Finals Rodeo can be tough to describe. For five-time Canadian pro rodeo announcer of the year Brett Gardiner, it’s a little easier.

“It’s like the old west meets an AC-DC concert,” said Gardiner, who is excited to be heading back to Rexall Place next Wednesday to get on the mic and call the action.

“You’ve got the best cowboys and cowgirls anywhere in North America and you’ve got the best livestock in Canada and it’s like that heavyweight champion versus the heavyweight contender,” he said.

A former rodeo competitor himself, Gardiner is happy to be out of “the eye of the storm” and in the announcer’s booth. He says newbies to the show should keep their eyes open for the mix of fierce competition and cowboy camaraderie.

“What I appreciate about those guys is they just love it,” he said. “When you make a ride or run, you know there’s a chance you’ll never ride again.”

Some, he said, have compared eight seconds of bareback riding with squaring off against a pro football defensive lineman for half a game. But for someone in his position, the biggest fear is losing his voice and missing a show, something he hasn’t done in 11 years of announcing.

“That’s my nightmare,” he said with a laugh.

The rodeo runs Nov. 11-15 and tickets to the rodeo and Farm Fair are available online at


CFR Five things

The CFR is the biggest indoor rodeo in Canada with 108 competitors and seven major rodeo events

It’s a dirty job - Setup for competition includes bringing in 120 truckloads of dirt. Each truckload equals 25 yards of coverage for a grand total of 3,000 yards of dirt

Big winners - The prize purse for the first edition of the CFR was $29,278. This year, the purse has grown to more than $1.5 million

A history of grit - The first CFR, coined “the year to be there”, was held at the Edmonton Gardens in 1974 and moved to Rexall Place a year later, where it’s been since. Northlands itself was founded as an agricultural society in 1879.

Team roping came to the CFR officially in 2000 but ladies barrel racing has been part of the show since 1983.