2,500 people attend Norfolk Ram Rodeo
NIXON Trevor Cowley made his Ontario rodeo debut on the weekend at the Norfolk Ram Rodeo held in Nixon, about 10 kilometres west of Simcoe.
After recovering from a motor vehicle accident last November, the former truck driver decided to switch careers.
“I decided I’m not go to do that anymore, and ride bulls instead,” said the 38-year-old Alberta native, who took part in rodeo for 15 years until 2013. “Rodeo is my job now. I’m putting my heart and soul into this sport and hope to go far with it.”
Cowley, who now lives in Nova Scotia, has two daughters, aged 12 and 10, who are competitive in barrel racing.
“We run all over the Maritimes,” he said. “And my oldest girl has won the championship the last two years.”
At the Norfolk Ram Rodeo, on the Timmermans Ranch on Nixon Road, Cowley competed in saddle bronc and bull-riding categories.
“I live, eat and breathe bull riding,” said Cowley, who works out at the gym five to six days a week. “It’s a desired sport, that’s for sure.”
Sharing the passion for bull riding is 25-year-old Taylor Watson of Grimsby, Ont., who has been competing in rodeo circuits for two years.
“I call it more stupidity, than nerve,” Watson said, as he worked rosin into the saddle rope and his glove for a better grip.
When he’s not in the rodeo ring, Watson is a hazardous materials technician, and also works in confined space rescue.
There are a couple of cowboy schools to learn about rodeo competitions but some “just come and get on,” said Watson, admitting to be one of the latter.
“I fell on the ground real hard but wanted to get on again,” he said.
“The thought of trying to conquer a 2,000-pound animal for eight seconds blows your mind. And when you actually do it, it’s rewarding.”
Hosting a rodeo is also a rewarding experience for Mike and Krista Timmermans, who have been doing so for the past four years at their Nixon Road ranch.
“We board horses, do 20 to 30 acres of hay for the horses we board,” said Mike Timmermans, noting the couple moved here from Strathroy five years ago. “We figured this was the perfect place to hold a rodeo.”
The rancher estimated 2,500 people poured through the gates Saturday for barrel racing, pole bending, saddle bronc and bull-riding competitions, along with food trucks and vendors that could outfit visitors from head to toe in western wear.
“Our main goal is to create a community event where we can re-invest the profits into making the event even better the next year,” Timmermans said. “We have multiple companies involved and this unites the community. When we moved here we didn’t know anyone.”
In the spectator stands, Albert and Andrea VanBenthem of Hagersville brought their five children, plus a niece and nephew, to watch the action. Although they operate a beef farm, Andrea said her children love horses.
“We came last year, and loved it, even though it rained the entire time.”