Wetaskiwin Rawhide Rodeo
Ponoka Stampede Grand Entry Assistant
Wetaskiwin Rawhide Rodeo Grand Entry Director
Wild Pony Racing Volunteer and Judge
4-H Club Assistant Leader 2001-2005
Being a Cowboy and Rodeo is What he Knew
The western lifestyle and
sport of rodeo has always been an important part of Rod Hok’s life, it
encompasses who he is. Having grown up on a large working ranch in
southern Saskatchewan it was the way of life. Rod was on a horse working
cattle from a young age and riding calves in the branding pen lit a fire
in him that has yet to be extinguished. He has been involved in
rodeo all of his life in one way or another; as a competitor, volunteer,
proud father, judge, chairman, arena director, and supporter.
Rod moved to Wetaskiwin in
1978 and immediately joined the Wetaskiwin Agricultural Society eager to
immerse himself in the community. He has been involved with the
Wetaskiwin Rawhide Rodeo since its beginning in 1999 and continues to
promote the growth and betterment of the sport of rodeo in its entirety.
It is for his many years of volunteer work with rodeo that Rod is being
inducted into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame.
45 Years Advancing the Sport of Rodeo
Rod has been a member of
the Wetaskiwin Agricultural Society for 45 years, since he moved to
Wetaskiwin in 1978. For 40 of those years, he has been on the board of
directors holding many different positions. The first annual Wetaskiwin
Rawhide Rodeo was held on May long-weekend 1999. Rod assisted Foss Irwin
in the organization of the inaugural rodeo and since 2000 has acted as
the Wetaskiwin Rodeo Chairman and Arena Director. As Chairman, Rod’s
duties include attending rodeo association meetings, ensuring event
sponsorship, recruiting and coordinating volunteers, obtaining stock
contractors, announcers, and contract acts along with marketing and
advertising. Come rodeo weekend Rod can be found inside the arena
orchestrating the big show as arena director. Communicating with the
contractors, contestants and announcer, assisting the judges, and making
sure the rodeo runs smoothly are just a few of his many
responsibilities. Rod has been an invaluable resource for the Ag.
Society due to his extensive knowledge of rodeo and years of built
connections with other rodeo committees. The Wetaskiwin Rawhide Rodeo
has been successful over the years because of his intuitiveness to seek
out change and passion for the advancement of the sport.
For the last 18 years Rod
has assisted, co-coordinated and coached the Grand Entry Team at the
Ponoka Stampede. He also coordinated the Wetaskiwin Rawhide Rodeo Grand
Entry from 2009 -2018. Overseeing the grand entry includes: recruitment
and holding tryouts, organizing and directing practices, selection of
music and attire, morale support, and ensuring everything is set to run
smoothly on performance days. The purpose of the grand entry is not
only to kick start the rodeo with loud music and fast horses but
primarily to showcase the sponsors whose financial contributions fund
the production of the rodeo. Without these vital sponsors, the rodeos
simply would not exist. To ensure the longevity of the rodeo and the
sport as a whole, volunteers like Rod must put in the time to ensure the
sponsoring companies are properly acknowledged and displayed.
Wild Pony Racing - Contribution to the Development
In addition to his work
with the Rawhide Rodeo and the Grand Entry’s in Wetaskiwin and Ponoka,
in 2006 Rod became a volunteer with Mel Lawes’ Wild Pony Racing contract
act. The organization contracts to events and rodeos throughout the
province from small town rodeos to the Canadian Finals Rodeo and The
Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth - the Calgary Stampede. Rod’s
responsibilities include everything from organizing the kids and parents
to waivers, media control, recruitment and transportation of the ponies.
More notably, Rod enjoys being the judge. Though be it an act mainly for
crowd entertainment, the Wild Pony Racing organization is a gateway for
youth to become involved in rodeo. Many top level rodeo athletes today
once got started through Mel Lawe’s Wild Pony Racing. It is because of
events like this for the kids that the sport of rodeo will continue on.
Getting them involved and interested in rodeo from an early age is
pivotal for the advancement of the sport. Without volunteers like Rod,
putting in the hours of effort, these organizations would not be
successful in the development of our youth and the continuation of the
Example of his Volunteerism
The 4-H motto is “Learn To
Do By Doing” and that is exactly what Rod encouraged and preached in his
5 years as Assistant Club Leader. His passion has always been rodeo and
he thoroughly enjoyed sharing his knowledge and expertise in team roping
with club members whenever he had the chance. Teaching young 4-Her’s how
to rope was always a highlight of his year and yet another shining
example of his volunteerism and contribution to the development of youth
in our community and rodeo.
Rod has recently added
another volunteer position to his long list of undertakings. For the
past three years Rod has also been the Parking Director at the
Wetaskiwin Agricultural Society Annual Truck and Tractor Pull. In his
spare time Rod participates in various team roping organizations
competing locally. A passion since the 1980’s he will continue to team
rope and be involved in rodeo for as long as he can.
While Rod is first to give
credit to those volunteers and organizations who oversee the rodeo
events it is clear that his singular contributions have ensured the
continuance of the Wetaskiwin Rawhide Rodeo. Because of Rod’s efforts,
opportunities to participate continue to exist for amateur and
semi-professional rodeo contestants and enthusiasts. His encouragement
of local entries ensure that youth and beginners alike have
opportunities to become involved in rodeo through the mutton busting,
wild pony racing, wild cow milking, grand entry and junior rodeo events.
It is because of efforts like this, from people like Rod, rodeo will
continue to flourish.
Our community, rodeo
participants and fans have benefitted immensely from Rod’s volunteer
efforts. Rod has spent most of his adult life volunteering in Rodeo and
we applaud his longevity and the countless hours he has dedicated to the
sport. Rod, you are a valued member of our community and very deserving
of being inducted into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame.
Read Presentation speech by Denise Bushnell