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Hamlet Hoedown getting ‘back in the saddle’ on Aug. 19-21

Annual event in Fort Assiniboine features two nights of WRA rodeo action, free pancake breakfast, parade, kids’ corner, lawnmower races and more
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After two years of downtime, the Fort Assiniboine Hamlet Hoedown is making a big return this Aug. 19-21, with two nights of rodeo, a parade, a free pancake breakfast, a kids' corner, lawnmower races and other events slated to occur.

FORT ASSINIBOINE — After two years of inaction due to the COVID pandemic, the Fort Assiniboine Agricultural Society will once again host the 2022 Hamlet Hoedown this Friday to Sunday, Aug. 19-21. 

“We’re excited to be ‘Back in the Saddle,’ back to doing it all again,” said Fort Assiniboine Ag Society vice president Jen Christianson, referencing the theme of this year’s hoedown parade. 

“The theme came from one of our residents. It was properly fitting, because we haven’t (held the Hoedown) since 2019.” 

The Hamlet Hoedown kicks off on Friday with a farmers’ market and trade show from 2-6 p.m. at the Curling Rink, while the beer gardens and concession at Walsh Park opens at 5 p.m. 

The first night of rodeo — which, incidentally, is part of the Wildrose Rodeo Association’s (WRA) circuit — kicks off at 6 p.m. The second night of WRA rodeo action also starts at the same time on Saturday night. 

The wild pony races are the grand entry for the Friday night rodeo, while mutton bustin’ serves as the grand entry for the Saturday night rodeo. 

As with other years, registrations for both the wild pony races and mutton bustin’ are completely filled up, according to Penny Price, who was in charge of taking entries for both events. 

“It’s always a crowd-pleaser,” she said. 

The Friday night rodeo will also feature a performance by the MacGillivray Sisters trick riding team, which have performed at rodeos all over Alberta. 

Admission to the rodeo is $10 for adults, $5 for youth between six and 16 years, and free for children five and under. 

A fireworks display will follow at 10 p.m. on the Athabasca River Bank. While the weather is always a factor in whether a fireworks display can go ahead, Price noted that they’ve never failed to put on a display over the decade she’s lived in Fort Assiniboine. 

On Saturday, the day opens with a free pancake breakfast at the Fort Assiniboine recreation complex/arena from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. 

Christianson said they’ve held a free pancake breakfast since the early 1990s, using sponsorship dollars to pay for the cost of the event. 

In 2019, they had around 500 people show up for the free breakfast, though in previous years, attendance was as high as 700. 

“Fingers crossed, we get the same numbers again,” she said. 

After that is the parade, which starts at 10:30 a.m. Judging takes place at 9:30 a.m., with floats lining up at the Fort Assiniboine School. 

Concessions at Walsh Park open at 11 a.m., though there will also be a beef-on-a-bun concession at Legion Hall at 11:30 a.m. Beer gardens open at noon. 

There will then be a live auction at the arena from noon to 1:30 p.m. and a kids’ corner behind the arena from noon to 3 p.m. 

Christianson said they really wanted to vamp up their kids’ corner this year in order to bring out more families to the event. The kids’ corner will feature balloon artists, a temporary tattoo artist, mini-golf, inflatable bouncy houses and a money pile that kids can dig through. 

“We do have a really good turnout, and now with COVID kind of in the rear-view mirror, we do want to bring back families and do some fun stuff,” she said. 

The Fort Assiniboine Lawn Mower Racing Association will put on their races between 1 to 4:30 p.m. at Walsh Park. 

Tammy Pattyson, whose family is involved in the association, said the lawnmower races held during the Barrhead Demolition Derby were basically only a demo of the event that will be held on Saturday. 

Despite the fact these are lawnmowers, Tammy said they prefer to race on a track of hard-packed dirt instead of grass. 

Many local people will enter their lawnmowers in one of the four races — stock, stock modified, modified and outlaw — and they might get some out-of-towners as well; one year, they had a competitor come up from Calgary. 

Tammy noted that they will be taking registrations right up until the day of the event, and they would love to have more entries. To register, they need only call John Pattyson at (780) 333-1320. 

The Hamlet Hoedown wraps up on Sunday with the North Country Junior Rodeo finals at Walsh Park. This is specifically for kids 14 and under and there is free admission. 

On a final note, anyone interested in camping at Walsh Park this weekend may call Price at (780) 584-2100.

Kevin Berger,

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