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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Sunparlour Rodeo continues raising funds for the community

by Sylene Argent

After 17 years, the Sunparlour Rodeo, hosted on the Pavao family farm in Ruthven, is still attracting a huge crowd and continues to raise funds for various local causes, thanks to dedicated volunteers, generous sponsors, and the thousands who line the stands to watch the cowboys and cowgirls of the Rawhide Rodeo Company compete for top times or the most points in the many classes offered.

  Over the weekend, despite the heat, one of the event organizers, Stephanie Pavao-Clark, estimated around 5000 spectators enjoyed all the rodeo had to offer at the Saturday and Sunday evening performances.

  On Sunday evening, Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald welcomed the guests before the show got underway. She said she was pleased to see the community continue to support the event after all these years and recognized all those who have been involved in ensuring the event is a success year-after-year.

  Part of that success, MacDonald suspected, is due to the event’s continuous growth. For example, in addition to the annual favourites of bull riding, barrel racing, bronc riding, steer wrestling, and tie-down roping, this year’s event also offered a pole bending class, which challenge riders to weave through a set of poles for the quickest time, and a special presentation of Roman Riding, where a rider stood atop two horses, with one foot on each steed, as they moved around the ring.

  Since its inception, the Sun Parlour Rodeo has raised around $400,000 for local causes, including medical equipment at Erie Shores Healthcare/Leamington Hospital. Last year’s event raised $35,000, which went towards a neonatal monitor and an EKG monitor. In the past, the rodeo has also supported other pieces of equipment for Leamington District Memorial Hospital, and has supported WE Care for Kids and The Hospice of Windsor Essex County Inc., Erie Shores Campus.

  This year’s event proceeds will go to a variety of charities yet to be announced, Pavao said.

  What is unique about the rodeo, Pavao commented, is that it offers something fun for families to do, and presents a variety of rodeo classes to watch that are sure to capture the attention of anyone, any age. The event also offers a chance to buy food, search for unique western-themed trinkets at vendor booths, and opportunities for the youngsters to get in the ring to participate in the mutton busting and calf scramble events, were youngsters try to ride a sheep for a distance and chase young cows to retrieve a string that had been attached to their tails.

Pavao thanked the event’s sponsors for their support in ensuring the Rodeo is a go, and the event’s volunteers for their dedication, which includes family members of their Pavao family and friends, including Nelson Carvalho.


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