Purchase 3 day Performance Package for $30.00
Thursday, June 29th: 7pm
Admission $10.00 Students 11- 18 $5.00, 10 & under Free
Friday, June 30th: 7pm
Friday, June 30: 9:30pm Cowboy Cabaret
Admission $10.00 Students 11- 18 $5.00, 10 & under Free
Saturday, July 1st: 2pm
Admission $10.00 Students 11- 18 $5.00, 10 & under Free (FREE WITH SAWYER BROWN TICKET)
Tickets available on - line or at Kinetic Park , Palliser Pavilon Office or Pharmasave
In 1938 the City of Swift Current, Sask. with a population of 5,000 gave the Kinetic Club, consisting of 70 members, the task of sponsoring an annual July First Dominion Day Celebration. The Kinetics had assisted the city's July First Committee to stage a successful celebration the previous year, 1937, and the city fathers under Mayor James Taylor had faith that the club could further promote and develop the celebration. The Kinetic Club had been formed in 1935, originally as a young men's group in the Metropolitan Church; in 1936 the group decided to expand to include young men of all denominations in Swift Current, and took the name "Kinetic" a scientific term signifying "Energy in motion".
The Kinetics proved, indeed, to be an imaginative and energetic group. At one of their Sunday afternoon meetings held in the City Hall Council Chambers, they discussed what form the 1938 Celebration should take. One member suggested a football game as the main attraction since football was becoming increasingly popular in Saskatchewan. Charlie Powley, another member suggested that what was needed was something that would appeal to the people in the surrounding area, for the most part dirt farmers and ranchers, and to the merchants and people of the neighbouring towns and villages. He put forth the idea of staging a rodeo and the idea was adopted with enthusiasm.
The Kinetics then decided to put all their efforts into re-incarnating in every possible detail the western frontier days, still vivid in the minds of Swift Current's old timers from the early days when Swift Current was a western cattle town. In casting about for something to publicize the first rodeo the Kinetics considered many ideas. Finally, one young man said, "Why don't we do something crazy, like growing beards?" Rev. Jack Jones, a Kinetic member and minister of the Knox Church, now resident in Yorkton, Sask. is credited with this suggestion which was adopted and brought Canada wide publicity for Swift Current's rodeo in 1938 and in succeeding years.
Kinetic Ken Lewis was appointed Publicity Chairman and initiated many novel ideas to popularize beard growing and the western theme in general. A beard growing competition was sponsored, with prizes for all types of beards; penalties, to be publicly administered were established for those not growing beards; people were encouraged to wear western costumes, including poke bonnets and hoop skirts for the ladies; slabbed up store fronts became the order of the day and hitching posts appeared in front of many business establishments. Saturday night parades were weekly and these together with community sing songs in the down town area helped to build a community spirit. The songs sung, mostly western parodies, were written by Kinetics Karl Hawley, then Club president, Charlie Powley and Kem Aberdeen. To the accompaniment of twanging guitars the crowds sang among other parodies such songs as "Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet" with Kinetic words:
"Put on your old bandanna
And your best Western manner
To the Swift Current Stampede let us go.
The wild broncs will Skeedaddle
With sunlight 'neath the saddle
At the Frontier Rodeo."
Swift Current's Rodeo was probably the first in Western Canada to blend street and Fair Grounds entertainment, and to have its citizens on the streets, in the stores, in the schools and churches wearing western costume throughout pre-rodeo and rodeo days.
Although there was great concentration on building publicity and a community spirit, the Kinetics meanwhile were leaving no stones unturned to build a program worthy of the advance publicity. Under the leadership of Bill Harding, first president of the Kinetic Club and 1936 Celebration General Chairman, a committee of about a dozen led the membership in planning a gigantic celebration complete with midway, historic western parade, street dances, rodeo queen contest, an Old Timers' Re-union to go along with the rodeo.
Charlie Powley as Rodeo Secretary and Ralph DesBrisay, Program Chairman worked together on details of lining up a first class rodeo. Don "Squint" Perrin of Kyle, Sask. about 50 miles north of Swift Current, and one of Canada's most outstanding cowboys was chosen as Rodeo Manager, a job he was to hold for a dozen years into the future. The Perrin family was raised in the Cypress Hills, some 80 miles south-west of Swift Current, where the elder Perrin homesteaded in 1891. Don and older brother, Edwin, competed for Canada at a rodeo in Wembley Stadium, England in 1924.
Another brother, Harold, was taken on as Assistant Manager and supervised the erection of rodeo chutes, corrals and arena in a West End Ball Park. Brother Ernest Perrin of Maple Creek area cut the poles and posts for the first corrals in the Cypress Hills in the Piapot Creek area. A purse of $800 plus entry fees was put up for the two day show - June 30th and July 1st. Events were: Saddle Bronc Riding, Steer Riding, Calf Roping, Bareback Riding, Wild Cow Milking and Wild Horse Race. Featured extra attractions for the rodeo were: Gib Potter, Canadian Trick Roper, Olive Leonard of Braddock with her trained horse and Pete Perrin of Beechy, also a brother of Don Perrin, who was rodeo clown and also had a trick pony. Johnny Scott of the Matador Ranch was the first rodeo announcer.
In 1938 and through the earliest years of the rodeo many area ranchers supplied stock for the rodeo. Among them were: Stewart and Ian Grant of Val Marie, John Trottier of Lac Pelletier, Walter Knight of Stewart Valley, C.H. Nels Funk of Beaver Flat, and the John Minor and Frank Yeast ranches northwest of Swift Current in the Abbey and Fox Valley areas. Trailing horses and cattle to the Swift Current Rodeo was a time consuming task in the early days. With these words Pete Perrin recalls and early trip. "Helped C. H. Funk of Beaver Flat ferry 30 cows and calves at Saskatchewan River Landing enroute from Matador to Swift Current for the Rodeo. That could not be termed a long trip but just imagine the change -100 miles for the round trip or four big days of trailing. Today a liner would do it in the same number of hours."
The best bucking horse at the 1938 rodeo was "Cream Puff", owned by Stewart Grant of Val Marie. Freddie Galarneau of Finnegan, Alta. was leading the bronc riding after the first day of the show and drew Cream Puff for his July First ride. Freddie threw caution to the winds despite being the leader in the judges' books, and lost the battle with Cream Puff, who bucked him off and stamped a hole in his hat after he was thrown. Swift Current rodeo fans still talk about Fred's ride and Cream Puff was soon immortalized by the Kinetics in a song written to be sung to the tune, "Josephine".
"Oh, there never was a bronc just as tough
As the mare they called Cream Puff,
Now when she leaves the chutes
There's a squall on the loose,
Seems to me she's partly devil;
There's a demon in her eyes.
She uncoils like a snake,
As you sit there and rake
The rowels down her flanks and sides.
Oh, I guess it would be better
Just to scratch and then forget her;
All the punchers think it would be wise,
But I took my chance and drew her;
And the points are hard to get:
She's sure to be the one to catch the judges' eyes.
So I ooze down on the seat;
Now they throw wide the gate,
Out we spurt;
And I sprawl
In the dirt."
Cream Puff was the top Swift Current horse for some years. Her career ended in 1941 when she bucked into the arena fence and was killed. She was buried in the rodeo arena with full honours.
The response to the Kinetics' publicity campaign and planned program for the 1938 rodeo was overwhelming; and the unique display of community support gained national attention in newspapers, magazines and radio and newsreels. Thousands came to see and share in the fun at the "Bearded Frontier City" both prior to and during the rodeo. On July First, Canada's birthday, and the second day of the rodeo over 20,000 visitors invaded the city and overran the 5,000 capacity Fair Grounds. At the Saskatchewan River Landing Ferry , 30 miles north of Swift Current, vehicles were backed up waiting for the ferry. At one time during the day over 150 vehicles were waiting to get across. Although food and accommodation were short, and many were forced to sleep in cars and in hotel lobbies, the thousands of visitors went home happy and a new rodeo destined to carry on for decades was born.
In the years following 1938 the Kinetics worked hard to develop further unusual ideas to publicize the rodeo. In 1939 they adopted "International Days" as the theme and hundreds of citizens dressed in costumes of many countries around the world; false fronts were put on stores to represent everything from the Indian Taj Mahal or a Dutch Mill to an Eskimo Igloo. Again, beards were the fashion and songs dedicated to various countries were heard at the ever popular community sing songs - for example, South America was honoured with a parody sung to the tune of "A Gay Caballero":
After the unusual success of the first rodeo in 1938, it was obvious a larger area to hold the show was needed. A site was chosen after much study in the south-east part of the city. Irving Hansen, later to become the first full time manager of the show was named Building Chairman. With only $900 in cash plus $2500 in redeemable certificates sold locally he sparked the building campaign. He supervised the ordering of lumber and other materials to build a grandstand, bleachers and new arena chutes and corrals for the rodeo on the new site. The work was done mostly by volunteers, Kinetics and others and despite a rainy June the new Fair Grounds set-up was completed and ready for the July First show.
Always Swift Current was a "must" stop for cowboys to compete, and for many years Swift Current's "Cowboy Party" held on the night before the show also a first on the rodeo circuit, was popular with contestants. A popular feature of the cowboy parties was the Kinetic Quartet, also known as "The Frontiersmen" and composed of Ken Lewis, Charlie Powley, Kem Aberdeen and Ralph DesBrisay. Songs such as "Rodeos" to the tune of "China Town" made a hit with the boys each year:
"Rodeos create a thrill
Watch them leave the chutes
See that the puncher take a spill
That's a tough cayuse (so ride 'em cowboy)
Bare back broncs are tough to-day
Wild steers bawl and blow
Good show stock is on display
At the Swift Current ro-day-o."
Among well remembered cowboys who always "made" the Swift Current shows in the early days were the following from Saskatchewan: Cliff Anderson of Fir Mountain, Jerry Myers of Moose Jaw, Larry Reaney of Weyburn, Don Dewar of Hoosie, Bob Francis of Crichton, Cecil Bedford of Govenlock, Fred Bradford of Maple Creek, Slim Gates of High Point, Pete and Ben Jahnke of Herbert. From the United States in the earlier years came Padgett Berry from Yuma, Ariz.; Floyd Peters from Browning, Mont.; Johnny Hagen from Wolf Point, Mont.; F.C. Stover from Tularosa, New Mexico; Jim and Tom Tescher from North Dakota; Jerry Ambler from Oregon; Jack Buschbom from Cassvile, Wisc. Most of the contestants came from Alberta and this group included such well known cowboys as Fred and Albert Galarneau, Charlie and Eddie Ivins, the Duce brothers, Tom, Frank and Bob, Ken Brower, Harold Mandeville, Frank Eppie, Cam Lansdell, Ken and Harry Thomson, Wally Lindstrom, Dick Andrews, Fred Gladstone, Bob Fisher, Bill Collins, Urban Doan, Jack Wade, Warner Linder, Waldo Ross, Gene Gunderson, Keith Hyland, Bud Van Cleave, Dick Havens, Gordon Earl, Frank Voros, Wilf Girletz, Lawrence Lamb, Homer Evens, Johnny Glazier. World's Champions turned up regularly at Swift Current among them being Carl Olson, Bill Linderman, Casey Tibbs, Marty Wood, and Winston Bruce.
Feature attractions for arena performances in the early years were the Monte Montana and Buss Carson Troupes, the Willis boys of Moose Jaw, the Dewar sisters of Hoosier, clown and bull fighter Wilbur Plaugher. California Bobbie Hill, talented clowning trick roper thrilled and delighted audiences from 1939 for many years. Bobbie, now retired in Paradise, Montana, was honoured at the 1967 rodeo by the presentation of a plaque for his out-standing contribution to the Swift Current Rodeo. That year, 1967, was the 30th annual Swift Current Rodeo and the occasion was marked by the holding of a Kinetic Reunion to which dozens of Kinetics, the originators of the show returned to Swift Current.
From 1951 to 1987 Jerry Myers of the Prairie Rodeo Stock Association, now Bar T Stock, Moose Jaw, has supplied stock and rodeo help and managed the arena show very successfully. In 1988 Don and Brenda Peterson purchased Bar T Rodeo Stock and have supplied stock to the Frontier Days Rodeo to date. For many years Southwest Saskatchewan stockmen contributed greatly to the rodeo's success and operation. Pete Perrin of Beechy, Hugh Bovee of Shackleton, and Tickey Miller of Kyle were pick-up men in the arena. Jack Hartness of Lacadena as rodeo timekeeper and Ralph Bellows of Moose Jaw as stock handler in the corrals were faithful workers behind the scenes for over 25 years. For their valued service, both were honoured by Frontier Days some years ago. Robert Thomson of Lacadena and Jake and Bill Funk of Beaver Flat were also willing workers for many years. Tiny Toews of Herbert, now deceased, was the colourful flagman for the rodeo for many years. In addition he also supplied stock from time to time and served as rodeo announcer for several years. Johnny Sandes of Swift Current, did an outstanding job of rodeo announcing for many years. The Yeast ranch supplied the first horned Highland bred steers for the decorating event when it was introduced in 1940. In 1942 Ernest Perrin of Maple Creek traded cattle with the Yeast ranch for 10 cows, 10 calves and 4 yearling Highland rodeo cattle and these cattle were supplied for some years thereafter to Frontier Days. Some of the first judges were Les Gaique of High Point, Bert Ingram of Maple Creek Lloyd Myers of Moose Jaw, and Lorne Thompson of Medicine Hat. All were old time bronc riders.
In the earliest years Charlie Powley was rodeo chairman followed by Don Perrin, Ralph Desbrisay, Glen Newton, Jack May, Glen Meyers, Jay Lundy and presently Dr. Robert Hope.
Swift Current together with other Saskatchewan rodeos pioneered in the establishment of rodeo circuits. At a meeting in Maple Creek in 1944 the Saskatchewan Rodeo Association was formed with Ralph DesBrisay of Swift Current as president and Charlie Powley of Swift Current as Secretary. Association saddles were in short supply in those days and each member purchased two Association saddles for co-operative use of each rodeo at show time. Also, points were awarded for each dollar won by cowboys at the shows and Saskatchewan Championships were awarded at the close of the season. At one time as many as nine shows belonged to the circuit - Swift Current, Maple Creek, Eastend, Regina, Moose Jaw, Melville, Assiniboia, Weyburn, and Leader. From its earliest years, Swift Current was a member of the International Rodeo Association the Rodeo Cowboys' Association and the Canadian Stampede Managers Association. Swift Current rodeo prize purses were always tops and a good relationship existed between Frontier Days and the cowboys. Swift Current rodeo officials co-operated and helped cowboys in every way possible with the formation of the Cowboys' Protective Association in 1945.
Show sponsorship underwent many changes as the years went by. The Kinetic Club, originators of the rodeo in 1938 disbanded in 1950 after sponsoring the show for 12 years. From the beginning the Kinetics had planned to build a swimming pool for Swift Current from proceeds of the rodeo and other projects and they had worked together with the Kiwanis Club of Swift Current Towards this end. The war intervened in 1939 and through the war years thousands of dollars were donated to various war charities, including notably the Kinsmen Milk for Britain Fund. When the Kinetic Club disbanded in 1950 there was $9400 in the Kinetic - Kiwanis Joint Swimming Pool Fund. Although disappointed in not being able to accomplish their original goal of building a swimming pool the two clubs used the funds for the furtherance of two excellent community projects. $4,000 was turned over to the Kiwanis Club to further develop their swimming facilities in the Elmwood Park area and the remaining $5,400 was used to build the Kinetic Youth Centre still used as a Band Hall by the Swift Current Junior Band and for other recreational purposes. Over $100,000 in Fair Grounds celebration assets was turned over to the city appointed Board of Governors consisting of G.F. Roth, Irving Hansen, Murray Dodds, Mike Neuhalfen and Grant Denike. Sponsorship of the rodeo was to be in the hands of the Swift Current Chamber of Commerce which was charged with the responsibility of appointing a Frontier Days Board annually. Finally in 1954 the show was put on a permanent basis. Maurice Nesford headed an Investigation Committee which recommended wider community sponsorship. As a result Frontier Days was incorporated as the Swift Current Agricultural and Exhibition Association. Grant Denike was named as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Irving Hansen became permanent Secretary-Manager. Mr. Hansen, a Kinetic, had been associated with Frontier days since its inception for many years as Chairman of the Board. He retained the position of Secretary-Manager until November 1971 when he retired with more than thirty years of service. One of the honours accorded to Mr. Hansen on his retirement was the dedication of the park developed within the Fair Grounds by him as "Hansen Park". Mr. Hansen was succeeded as Manager by Mr. Frank Smith, who held the position from 1971 to 1987. David Peters has been manager since January 1988.
It is interesting to note that the charter under which Frontier Days now operates was originally granted to the Swift Current Agricultural Society in 1902 when H.E. Clinite was president and S. Moore was Secretary. Their last fair was held in 1922. The grounds were located not far from the present grounds, near the city dam. The covered grandstand, stables and exhibits buildings were tron down and removed after the 1922 fair. In succeeding years, although no fair was held, the Agricultural Society charter was kept alive by H.J. Kemp and the Kinetic Club. The Society was re-activated in 1947/48 when Joe Fitch was President. From 1948 to 1950 Cliff Shirriff Sr. was president and from 1951 to 1954 Kem Aberdeen acted as President. The Society worked hard to promote the development of agricultural activities for Frontier Days. With the incorporation of Frontier days as an Exhibition and Agricultural Association the need for a separate Agricultural Society came to an end.
Through the years from 1938 to 1996 Frontier Days has grown and developed into a full sized Regional Fair and Rodeo. Eventually the rodeo purse grew from $800 to $50,000 in later years. Events such as Steer Decorating later changed to Steer Wrestling, Brahma Bull Riding, and Amateur Bronc Riding and pony chuck wagon races were added, chariot races and ladies' barrel racing became popular features. From two days the rodeo expanded to three days always with July First as the feature day of the show. Probably the largest single crowd to view the rodeo was in 1946 when 12,000 jammed the arena for a single performance. That year Stan Francis of CBC "Share the Wealth" fame originated his show in Swift Current. In more recent years Swift Current has had to give up the July First date at times due to difficulties in arranging dates to suit all fairs on the prairie circuit.
The success of Frontier days can be attributed first to the originality and uniqueness with which the fledgling rodeo of 1938 was nurtured by the energetic Kinetics; also in succeeding years to the dedicated work of Association members, and officers, and the members of the Association's Board of Directors; finally to the support and backing of hundreds of local and district citizens who recognizing what the Regional Fair and Rodeo means to the city, gave unqualified support to it from its inception in 1938. Thus, an idea in the minds of the young Kinetics in 1938 has blossomed into one of Canada's best known Exhibitions.
Direct criticism or interference, of verbal or physical form, with judges, fair or show management, other exhibitors, employees, volunteers, or show officials, before, during, or after Frontier Days is prohibited. In the furtherance of their official duty, all judges, fair or show management, exhibitors, or other show officials shall be treated with courtesy, co-operation and respect and no person shall direct abusive or threatening conduct toward them. If this should occur, persons will be removed by security from Kinetic Exhibition Park.