Athletes from all over North America will be at Northlands Coliseum looking to win the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) title in their sport. Some are competing for the first time while others want to make the most of the last CFR event held in what they call a hallowed venue.

Realizing a boyhood dream

The stars aligned for Chance Butterfield—he will be competing in his first CFR appearance in the steer wrestling event. Since he was about 13 years old, Chance has dreamt of competing in the ring, just like many of his family members including his father, Craig Butterfield. This year, he gets to do just that

Earlier this year, it looked like the Ponoka native was not going to get the opportunity to compete at CFR. In August, he was injured at the rodeo in High Prairie. While his injury dropped his ranking overall, it was high enough that he is still able to compete thanks to a quick recovery.

Throughout his career, Chance says he’s been on the “bubble” and missed qualifying for CFR in the last few years. To be able to compete at CFR in its final year at Northlands Coliseum is extra special for him because he gets to compete in the ring where he grew up watching his family and idols such as Cody Cassidy and Joe Butterfield compete.

“Northlands Coliseum is a hallowed place for pro rodeo in Canada,” says Chance. “As young cowboys work their way up the ranks, this is the pinnacle because it’s an iconic centre of the sport.”

Defending his title

Jordan Hansen has two goals in mind at this year’s CFR: defend his bull riding title and be the last champion to win the title at Northlands Coliseum. He is going into this year’s event with momentum behind his back: he is the first Canadian to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), which takes place in December in Las Vegas, in 16 years.

Jordan took an interest in bull riding when he was 14 years old. His mother, Adel Hansen, was a barrel racer and competed at CFR herself. Growing up around his mother inspired Jordan to pursue his own rodeo passion.

It goes without saying that his most memorable moment at CFR was winning the bull riding title last year but there is a lot more that he will miss. “The atmosphere of the event is great,” he says. “I always enjoy Saturday night when energy is high, the stands are full and the fireworks are going off.” Jordan says it will be hard to imagine the event being hosted anywhere else because it is big part of Edmonton.

Never too young to compete at CFR

Taylor Manning of Edson is making her first CFR appearance, and she is only 13 years old! She will be competing in Ladies Barrel Racing.

Growing up, Taylor’s mother was also a barrel racer, whom she credits for her interest in the sport. Taylor says she started riding horses when she was six and took an interest in the sport when she was eight. To be able to compete at this level at her age requires a lot of dedication.

“I often get up around 5:30 a.m. and ride my horse before school,” says Taylor. “When I get home from school, I ride some more. I absolutely love it.”

Taylor is excited to follow in her father’s footsteps—he competed in the 1990s and won the bull riding title in 1996. She says she is most excited for her grand entry on her horse, Matlock.

Turning a passion into a career

For saddle bronc rider, Layton Green of Meeting Creek, south of Camrose, 2017 marks his third appearance at CFR. Going into the event, Layton is ranked first with close to double the earnings as the second ranked saddle bronc rider, Zeke Thurston of Big Valley. Layton is looking for his first CFR win now that he’s out of the novice ranks.

For Layton, his sport is a passion. As he sees it, if he can make a living doing something he loves, he must be doing something right.

He credits his father for getting him interested in the sport. “My dad rode broncs when I was growing up,” he says. “Rodeo runs in my family—my brother rides bulls.” Over the years, he has also watched his idols make it to the CFR; as a competitor, he says that it’s a cool thing to meet them behind the chutes, whether they are still competing or helping out at the event.

Join us at CFR44

Grab your tickets and your plaid shirt and come watch these and many other talented athletes compete at Northlands Coliseum one last time.