CFR’s Youngest Music Director
Kurtis Kesler has been heavily involved in the CFR since he was a child playing behind the chutes. This year, he is stepping into the role of Music Director at the CFR. Below, Kurtis reflects on his journey and how much this position truly means to him.
The CFR has always been a very important event for my entire family. We are fortunate every year to have an opportunity to work and showcase our Livestock at the CFR. Throughout the years we have become more and more involved with the behind-the-scenes and production part of the rodeo here in Edmonton. My Grandma and Mom are the Rodeo Secretaries and have been for over 20 years. My Grandpa, Uncle, cousin and I continue to be on the Stock Crew and are charged with managing the livestock for all of the rough stock events.
I remember being at the CFR at a very young age and this year will be my 23rd CFR. I feel fortunate to have essentially grown up at the CFR. I was three months old and spent my first CFR in the stands, but after that, I was lucky enough to start hanging out behind the scenes of the CFR. Since my Grandma and Mom were secretaries, I was lucky to get a pass to be down behind the chutes at the CFR. I spent those few years behind the chutes helping my Grandpa and playing in the dirt with toy tractors and my rodeo horses and bulls. The Cowboys would sometimes join me and I felt like I was one of the crew.
Once I got a little bit older, I joined the stock crew with my Grandpa and Uncle and started to run the slides in the alleyway, loading the stock into the chutes. I did this for many years as well as worked on the feed crew, which consisted of feeding and graining the stock and making sure the waters were full and free of ice. I always enjoyed the warmer weather during the CFR’s as it was a little easier on the feed crew compared to minus 20-degree weather. I continued to work my way up on the stock crew and began helping load stock and bringing the stock in and out of the building. I would also squeeze in a bit of time to help my Grandpa hang flanks on our horses to make sure they were ready to do their job when called upon. After a few more years I had worked my way up to the coordinator of the centre alley and assisted in loading stock and moving the stock in and out of the building as well as ensuring that any emerging situations could be handled quickly through the centre alley.
I have always enjoyed how music has found its place in the rodeo world. Even as a little kid I have always dreamed of being the Music Director. At a young age, I would watch the Music Director and say to myself, “One day I want that to be me.” This has been my long-term goal, and my first chance at a real event was a little over 12 years ago. I started with CD’s I had collected over the years and a CD player, but quickly upgraded to computers within the first year or so. I have had great mentors over the years who have continued to encourage me to be successful within the music industry. I was fortunate to have rodeos and various events take a risk and hire me at a young age. It was these events as a young kid that helped me to progress to where I am today and I thank them for giving me a chance.
Today, I have had my dream come true. I have been given the opportunity to be the Music Director this year at the CFR and since being offered this chance I haven’t been able to wipe the smile off of my face when I think about it. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to work at the CFR in this capacity and definitely can say this is a dream come true.
Thanks and see ya at the CFR!