Dale Leschiutta knows that Trail loves its annual bull-riding event.
And that’s one of the reasons why the president of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association is excited about adding Trail as its newest destination on the CPRA’s B.C. circuit.
The annual Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama returns to the Cominco Arena on April 30 for its 10th edition. Organizers have shifted allegiance from the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) to the CPRA for the coming year and with it come a few extra carrots to entice the riders to Trail.
The event will still have its $12,000+ cash payout for the top riders. But more importantly, from a cowboy’s point of view, is the opportunity to accumulate valuable points, which enable a rider to qualify for the national finals.
The annual week-long event, hosted by Edmonton in November, offers up over $1.4 million in prize money including over $250,000 in the bull riding event.
“We focus on all seven events in the world of pro rodeo,” explained Leschiutta. “But we do run special events like bull riding and saddle broncs.
“That’s the good thing about these special events (like in Trail). The points gained count towards the Canadian championships.”
The by-product of switching from the PBR to the CPRA has also been an attracted alternative for local organizers.
In PBR events, riders had conflicting options on the same weekend, which often forced cowboys to choose one over the other.
“What happened to us last year is they (the PBR) put on an event in Prince Albert the same weekend and did it on a Friday and Saturday yet made it two separate events,” explained event organizer Guy Thompson in an earlier interview.
“So if you where there on Friday why would you drive all the way to Trail?”
Fortunately for the Trail event, Thompson has cultivated a great relationship with the riders who are well treated when in town.
In turn, the riders keep coming back even if it means a long over-night drive.
“It’s always packed there,” said three-time Bull-a-Rama champ Chad Besplug in a 2010 interview. “In Alberta, a lot of the times the people are kinda rodeoed out. As far as Trail goes, that’s as good a crowd as we get.”
And now with Canadian finals points on the line, it only adds to the lure of the West Kootenay event.
For Leschiutta, there is another big reason why he’s thrilled the CPRA is coming to Trail.
The 62-year-old Leschiutta was born and raised in Trail, graduated from J.L. Crowe Secondary and Selkirk College. His sister still lives in Trail and he had family ties spread all over the West Kootenay at one point.
“That’s why this is so exciting for me.”
He recalls the amateur rodeos at the Trail Horsemen’s Grounds in his younger days.
“I always was fond of the sport as a kid,” he said. “And I followed it more when I got to Edmonton.”
He went to work on the committee for the Canadian finals rodeo and gradually worked his way up through the ranks and finally to president five years ago.
The fact that the CPRA is coming to Trail really makes him happy. But what makes him even happier is how the civic leaders have welcomed the event into town.
“That whole event is backed by the City of Trail, which is outstanding,” he said.
“When we get a chance to go into a city where that kind of model exists we work hard to make sure stay there.
“That’s what we want,” he added. “We want to be part of a community or a city that backs those kinds of events.
“When they do it just makes it that much more successful.”