Photo by Billie-Jean Duff
If you’re looking for an example of rodeo dedication, look no further than steer wrestler Tim Kemp.
The Ontario bulldogger commutes from his home at Kincardine, Ontario (two and a half hours west of Toronto near Lake Huron) to Alberta most weeks of the rodeo season. He flies back and forth and has a car and horse trailer out here to get to the rodeos once he’s back out west. He has made that scheduling challenge work well enough to qualify for the last two CFRs. And this year he’s convinced long-time Ontario traveling buddy, Matt Dewetering, to travel with him which will make all those air miles a little more pleasant.
Kemp took a big step toward a third CFR trip when he split the win at this weekend’s Gateway to the North Pro Rodeo at the Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement near Caslon, Alberta with a 3.7 second run for $2659. The Buffalo Lake event is part of the SMS Equipment Pro Rodeo Tour—the first Tour rodeo of the 2023 spring season which made the weekend that much more critical for competitors. The win moved Kemp to the top of the Tour standings in part, due to his 3-4 split at Edmonton’s Fall Rodeo, which also counts for this year’s overall SMS Tour standings.
Kemp noted the importance of the tour to him and all the athletes. “The money is so good at all the Tour events and the points count for the tour finale at Armstrong, BC. That makes [these events] really important. In fact, I plan my rodeo schedule around the tour rodeos.”
Unfortunately, that plan went slightly amiss when the big easterner missed entries for Lea Park’s upcoming tour stop. “I was sick about that,” he admitted.
It hasn’t always been easy for Kemp. The night before the start of the 2022 CFR he injured his arm while helping push a vehicle out of a snowbank. The injury required off-season surgery and this was his first time back in the arena since then.
“It felt great,” he stated. “The steer was good. I rode Stephen Culling’s horse Bucky and I get along really well with him. The arm is a little weak still with bigger, stronger steers, but this one was just right. It’s a tricky start at Buffalo Lake but I’d seen that steer earlier in the slack and I knew he tried to fall off toward the hazer. Tanner (Milan) and I had a game plan and Tanner held him there for me so it worked out.”
Milan was the co-winner at Buffalo Lake and continued his sizzling start to the 2023 season.
“I was only there for slack,” Kemp added, “but they had breakfast for us and the setup was excellent. It looked to me like the committee had done a great job out there.”
Meanwhile, Tim Kemp jumped back on a plane to return to his family, wife, Jaime and daughters Alex and Natalie and his job at a nuclear power plant near his Ontario home. Oh and work on his upcoming rodeo schedule and that rather long commute back west. Yeah, that’s dedication.
Other winners at Buffalo Lake included reigning Canadian Bareback Riding Champion, Ty Taypotat, who rode C5 Rodeo’s 601 Black Feathers to 88 points for $2605 to retake the season lead; and three time World and Canadian Saddle Bronc Champion Zeke Thurston who continued his hot hand with an 88.5 point ride on C5’s 605 North Star for $2868.
It was a good weekend for Canadian titleists as reigning team roping champs Dawson and Dillon Graham celebrated their return to Canada after a productive winter at the US rodeos with a 4.8 second winning run that netted the Wainwright, AB brothers $2718 each.
For additional weekend winners and complete unofficial results go to rodeocanada.com.
The CPRA schedule heats up this coming weekend with the second SMS Pro Rodeo Tour stop—the Grande Prairie Stompede June 1-4, the Leduc Black Gold Rodeo June 1-3 and the Hand Hills Lake Stampede June 3-4.
The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) with headquarters in Airdrie, Alta. is the official sanctioning body for Professional Rodeo in Canada. The CPRA approves 55 + events annually with a total payout exceeding $6 million. The organization oversees the SMS Equipment Pro Tour Finale each fall in Armstrong, BC, holds their premiere event–the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR)–at Westerner Park in Red Deer, Alta. in early November and endorses the Maple Leaf Circuit Finals as part of Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Sask.
For details, please see RodeoCanada.com
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