by Al Campbell
VANCOUVER, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Vancouverites are getting the opportunity to play urban cowboy over the weekend as the annual Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair celebrates its 65th anniversary during the May long weekend holiday.
With 360,000 Canadian dollars in prize money on offer, the four-day event, the second largest non-sanctioned rodeo in the country after the world-famous Calgary Stampede, features the top 24 cowboys and cowgirls in the world standings from around North America competing in saddle bronc, bull riding, bareback and ladies barrel racing.
Among the star attractions appearing at the Stetson Bowl, the rodeo stadium at the Cloverdale fairgrounds in Surrey, a municipality located southeast of Vancouver, were Jesse Torkelson, the reigning Canadian bull riding champion, Rana Koopman, the 2010 Canadian ladies barrel racing champion and Bobby Mote, the world bareback champion from Oregon state.
Another top draw in Cloverdale was Cody Wright, the 2010 saddle bronc world champion who has held the title two times over the past three years. The 33-year-old native of Milford, Utah, was in Canada competing in a category that also included his brothers, Jesse and Alex.
"I was raised on a farm in a ranch back home and it was just something (I did). I rode horses and moved cows all my life. When I got in high school, they have high school rodeo programs and I wound up deciding I wanted to ride broncs. I entered up and it's all history from there," Wright said in his friendly Midwestern drawl.
With the horses trained to buck off a rider as violently and quickly as possible, Wright says with a straight face that just about anybody can do his sport, which so far has earned him more than 1.5 million dollars in prize money over his career.