Move may mean no rodeo this year

Liability insurance is forcing the Ashcroft Rodeo to leave the old grounds, and that may mean no rodeo this year.

It unsure whether Ashcroft will have a rodeo this year. The only thing for certain is that it won’t be taking place on the rodeo grounds.

The Rodeo Association has been told they can no longer continue on the property owned by Desert Hills Ranch because of insurance concerns.

“It’s not a matter of having enough insurance,” said David Porter of Desert Hills. “They couldn’t find the proper insurance. Contestants aren’t covered by insurance.”

Rodeos are a very risky event, he said, and property owners are a target for lawsuits.

Porter said they offered the Association assistance in moving the rodeo to another location.

“It’s not totally dead yet,” said Association president Bob Sidwell.

The group is looking for a new location with at least five hectares of flat land. If it can come up with a suitable piece in two weeks, the rodeo may go ahead this year.

“We have liability insurance to cover spectators,” said Sidwell. “Contestants have no insurance. They sign a waiver with BCRA to compete.

“In a way I can see their point,” he said, “but we’ve been here 53 years and never had one incident where anyone has sued. We’re still crossing our fingers that something can come up.”

Heather Philpott, organizer of the annual Rodeo Parade, said they are concerned about the future of the rodeo and how it will affect the parade, but they won’t be making alternate plans until they know for sure whether the rodeo is going ahead this year.

“All you need is a piece of land and a ton of volunteers,” she said.

Before the Feb. 23 Ashcroft Council meeting got underway, parade committee member Cam Tedford asked Council members if they had any direction that he could take to the committee, such as holding it in conjunction with another event.

“If the rodeo goes down and comes back in a year or two,” said Mayor Jack Jeyes, “I would say the allegiance of the parade is to the rodeo.”

Coun. Al Mertens said he didn’t think the parade needed to be held with another event. “The parade is historically linked with the rodeo, but it is a separate event,” he said. “I think the parade can exist on its own for the same weekend. I think the parade is the parade.”

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