With his trademark smile, showman Ross Millar engaged the capacity crowd at the Orangeville Rodeo grounds on Aug 29.
“Welcome back, Orangeville. We missed you!”
The response was deafening with hands clapping, feet stomping and piercing whistles competing against hollers and ‘yee haws.’
“It really didn’t feel like we missed a day,” said Millar.
Rodeos are another rural tradition that has returned, and people are showing that they are eager to be back.
Advanced sales eclipsed previous records with more than half the 3,000 available tickets snatched up. With only 75 per cent capacity allowed, a few folks were turned away on Aug. 28, said Millar. On Aug. 29, everyone squeezed in.
“I was a little afraid because if you’re 30 years old and you’re a bull rider, and you take a couple of years off, that’s not exactly the sport you hop on again,” Millar said. “But everybody was back. We lost a couple but not many.”
Millar said he’d lost access to competitors from the United States, but he anticipates their return once it’s easier to cross the border.
Millar said it was a good feeling to run the first rodeo in his hometown of Orangeville, and he felt the love each day after it wrapped.
“People went out of their way. They would walk over 10 feet and go, ‘Thank you very much for bringing the rodeo back’,” he said. “I don’t normally get that. Before COVID, people used to take a lot for granted… it’s made people appreciate a little more what they had.”
Three years ago, Brett Timmermans, 21, pulled Mucho Burrito, a black bull with a nearly heart-shaped white mark in the middle of his forehead, but there’s no love lost between the two.
The bull tipped him outside at 6.8 seconds, leaving Timmermans with nothing but applause for his trouble and likely another meet with Mucho Burrito in his future.
There are approximately 15 rodeos in Ontario that Timmermans hopes to hit this season, along with whatever he can fit in in Quebec, Alberta and possibly the United States if protocols allow.