The Bridge Lake Stampede is one of three rodeos being featured in an upcoming documentary.
Titled Rodeo Women: Behind the Scenes, the film explores the women who participate in, organize and make rodeos happen across Western Canada. Director Celia Haig-Brown and her team were filming on location at the 71st annual Bridge Lake Stampede on July 1.
“I’m really keen on getting some recognition for women who are involved in all sorts of dimensions of rodeo production,” Haig-Brown said. “Everything from the concession stands to sorting stock, and being timers to all of the committee people.
“One of the things that has been really quite lovely about doing this is anytime I mention it to cowboys, husbands or fathers, they say ‘It’s about time we recognize the women.’”
A large part of the Bridge Lake section of the documentary will focus on Julie Antoine, who serves as the event secretary. Haig-Brown has been friends with Antoine for the last 50 years and wanted to highlight her.
Haig-Brown said the Bridge Lake Stampede has a number of women, like Antoine, involved in organizing and competing in the event. It’s homegrown and amateur nature also made for an appealing contrast to the more professional rodeos.
“It’s such an interesting rodeo. It’s not sanctioned by any association, so what that means is anybody can come, enter and get on an animal to experience rodeo,” Haig-Brown remarked. “Also, there are so many young people here, it’s kind of hopeful for the future of rodeo. Bridge Lake is really different from the pro rodeos and I’m loving every minute of it.”
Prior to Bridge Lake, Haig-Brown and her team filmed the Falkland Stampede and the Sundre Pro Rodeo in Alberta. She noted that together they cover a wide range of rodeo culture.
With filming wrapped up, Haig-Brown said the documentary will take at least a year of post-production to complete. In addition to hours of supplemental B-roll footage to be used as background, they have dozens of interviews to go through and edit.
“We have to figure out what all the pieces are and how they go together. It’s exciting and a very creative time, but also very work-intensive.”