Competitors ready to make some hay as 2021 Stampede rodeo kicks off Friday

To fans this year's rodeo will look pretty much the same. There will be a Pool "A" and a Pool "B" with 11 competitors in each event and the champions will be crowned on Sunday.

Steer wrestler Scott Guenthner grew up in Consort, Alberta and was always a big fan of the Stampede rodeo.

Rodeo runs in the Guenthner family.  Scott's dad won the steer wrestling competition  back in 1983 and the younger Guenthner says that four decades later, he would love be get a buckle just like his dad got.

"It would be a dream come true.  Of course you think of it and you see people when you're little and winning Calgary and stuff," Guenthner said.

"Actually my Dad won Calgary the first they ever won the $50,000 so it would be kind of cool to follow in his footsteps."

PRETTY MUCH THE SAME

To fans this year's rodeo will look pretty much the same.  There will be a Pool "A" and a Pool "B" with 11 competitors in each event and the champions will be crowned on Sunday.

But for competitors things will look different.  July is known as Cowboy Christmas.  It's a time when cowboys and cowgirls go from rodeo to rodeo to make money.

Because of restrictions, competitors will have to stay in Calgary.

Prize money is also down this year.  But Guenthner says it's still worth it to compete in Calgary.

"It's one of the best rodeos in the entire world, let's be realistic here.  It's a good paying rodeo.  Used to be $100,000, this year it's going to pay fifty (thousand dollars) but $50,000 is still a lot of money."

FIRST STAMPEDE RODEO AT 62

Barrel racer Toni Dixon will be competing in her first Stampede rodeo.  Some American barrel racers aren't here this year , because of border challenges, so Dixon got in through a qualifier in Innisfail, Alberta a couple of weekends ago.

There were 132 competitors and only six got a spot in Calgary. 

The 62-year-old Dixon, who has been barrel racing for 32 years, including the pro rodeo circuit in 2014 and making the Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2015 and 2016, said Innisfail was nerve-wracking but fun.

"I placed ninth in the first go," she said, "and then won the second go and then won the average so (it was) pretty exciting."

LONG TIME VOLUNTEER

The Stampede is near and dear to Dixon's heart.  She's been a volunteer with the organization for 35 years.  The last 10 she was on the Stampede board of directors.

She says she never gave up on her dream of one day competing in Calgary.

"You know you never give up and I think that's my attitude in life," she told CTV.

"You never give up and always try and you never say never and yeah I did think it would happen one day."

"I thought if the stars aligned then you know it should happen.  I never gave up hope of hope that I would get there actually."

All of the competitors were tested for COVID-19 when the arrived in Calgary and will go through daily screenings to help make sure everyone is safe.