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2023 Inductees



Presentation Speech  by Denise Bushnell

"I should've been a cowboy. I should've learned to rope & ride."

Singing those campfire songs are lyrics to a popular Toby Keith song and most of us can just dream about being a cowboy but our next inductee has done just that for most of his life in one way or another. Rod Hok has lived the western lifestyle most of his life starting back as a youngster in Saskatchewan and continuing throughout his adult life here in Alberta.

When Rod moved to Alberta he joined the Wetaskiwin Agricultural Society and has been a member for 45 years, holding many key positions within the organization. As many of us in Wetaskiwin have seen over the years the Ag society has made so many changes out at the grounds, building a one stop area for rodeo events, community functions like fundraising dances & tractor pulls that bring in people from all over Alberta and the Western Provinces to our community of Wetaskiwin. It's people like Rod that are instrumental in setting up these functions for all to enjoy.

The Wetaskiwin Rawhide Rodeo is one of these events and Rod has been a part of the local rodeo since the first one in 1999. I'm sure any of us that have attended rodeos have no idea of all the work done behind the scenes for months prior to the event to put on that show that we all enjoy. Rod has spent the last 24 years working in the background with sponsors, stock contractors, volunteers and contestants to make sure that everything runs smoothly or as smooth as it can working with animals that have a mind of their own. Come rodeo weekend I can speak form experience as my family has attended many of these rodeos, that you will see Rod from and center in the arena most likely in his rain slicker and rubber boots as it rains more often than not for the Rawhide rodeo, directing humans & animals as the show must go on rain or shine.

Rod has been involved in some key areas of making rodeos entertaining for all ages and walks of like. Who doesn't love watching the girls race into the arena on top of their horses, holding sponsor flags doing intricate patterns to foot stomping music? So when Rod's daughter Cheyenne started riding in the Grand Entry in Ponoka, Dee Butterfield put Rod to work and what possibly started as some father/daughter time has continued for 18 years of long hours coordinating the right riders with the right and safe horses to the right music so when the rodeo opens what you see from the stands is a carefully choregraphed show, what you don't see it the man behind the scenes watching intently making sure horses & riders are safe as they go by at break neck speed. Another aspect of Grand Entry that most people do not realize is the importance of those flags the riders carry, those flags are sponsors that have contributed financially to the rodeos and it is Rod's job to make sure that the sponsors are showcased and properly acknowledged for all to see so that sponsors continue to help fund the rodeos as without sponsorship rodeos would not be able to continue.

Another entertaining show at many rodeos is the Wild Pony Racing. This was something that Rod could do with his son Colton who competed for 5 years, but again once Rod was in the group with Mel Lawes who ran the Wild Pony racing circuit, it was something that Rod threw himself in whole heartedly and has continued to do this so since 2006. Many young boys and girls have joined the wild pony racing circuit which has been in rodeos all across Alberta including the big shows like the CFR and Calgary stampede, and Rod has travelled all over recruiting youngsters to join in and be a part of the rodeo experience. If you have ever watched these kids, they give all they have to hang on to that pony and jump up on them for that ride, and even though they don't get points or anything like they older contestants in rodeos they compete fiercely for that 10.00 winnings. Rod has been the judge or flagman in the arena for many years and has cheered on countless teams of kids. By the way Rod the Hardy Colbourne team of your son Colton, my son Mitchell and Justin still say you favored that girls team all those years ago and dropped the flag faster for them than you did for their team.

Rod you have lived the life of a cowboy, being a farrier for all of us for so many years which allowed you the freedom to devote so much time to the agricultural and western way of life. You have proved that this life can be a family affair as you have travelled the roads with Karen, Cheyenne and Colton and you have devoted years to making sure everyone who wants to can enjoy a few hours of the cowboy world whether you live in the country or city . You've made countless families feel welcome around your campfire and as one of those families that travelled with you from rodeo to rodeo I take this opportunity to thank you for all the good times and friendship we shared. Thank goodness there are people like yourself that make sure this lifestyle will be there for years to come.

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