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The Biggest Little Rodeo – Bezanson Stampede

            Rodeo and horsemanship events have been a part of this region since it was first settled. Many rodeos and stampedes were originally created as an event to get away from the regular stresses of farm and ranch life. Rodeos and stampedes were an opportunity for the community to come together, participate in games and amusements and sometimes use the skills and horsemanship talents from farm work to compete against other rodeo athletes. Most rodeos and stampedes not only had events for cowboys, but they also had events for kids which was entertaining for everyone.

            Bezanson has always had roots in the farm and ranch way of life and it also has a lengthy history of being a social community. From its very beginnings down at the townsite, community races, sports days and picnics were a regular occurrence. It is fitting then, that Bezanson in later years also hosted rodeo events in its annual Stampede, “The Biggest Little Rodeo”. The rodeo grounds were located in the area where the Bezanson ball diamonds and curling rink sit today. “The shoots were on the west side of the arena while the horses bucked out of the east side, there was a covered barn and the bleachers were on the east side around the corral,” Henry Diederich reflects on his days being involved in the Stampede.

            The Bezanson Stampede was an annual event from 1947 – 1962 in the hamlet of Bezanson. The event brought together many people from the surrounding area for an event that included calf roping, cow hide races, wild cow milking, potatoe races, saddle bronc, kids rodeo events and more! This event did not include bull riding! Although there is not a lot of information about the Bezanson Stampede, I sat down with a few of the people that volunteered to make the event happen: Grant and Margaret Moon as well as Henry Diederich. Grant was the President of the Stampede back in the day, he and Margaret were tireless volunteers in the Stampede event, and Henry was the announcer from 1947-1962.

            The Stampede at Bezanson was full of activities: carnival, rides, Ferris wheel, as well as a couple of food booths complete with pies, hot dogs, hamburgers. Grant recalls that, “One year they had Coca-cola and the next year it was Pepsi-cola. This alternated every year.” Children’s games and events were a part of Stampede Day also. Roy Robideau did most of the organizing for the kid’s games during the rodeo years. They had a supper in the evening for sale, then a dance.

            Grant and Margaret also remember how the money from the stampede (after it had stopped running) was given to the hall group. The hall was an important part of the community that everyone made use of; dances, meetings, movie theatre. Margaret says,” Everyone paid for stampede, even the workers (volunteers). Dances at the hall men: $1, women: free. Dances started at 10 PM, swept at 12 AM, midnight dinner at 12 AM for 30 minutes and these dances would last until around 2-3 AM. Music was performed by locals such as Earl Patterson, Bredesons, Fords and Dwayne Stark.”

            The rodeo portion of the event included wild cow milking, mutton busting, calf-roping, potato races, cow hide races, cow riding (instead of bull riding), bucking bronc-bare back, stake races and barrel races. Neither the Moons nor Henry remember a human corral for the rodeo but when it ran in the hamlet, there was a fence up. The Moons remember that, “Henry Diederich was the last announcer, Johnny Stark before Henry.” They also remembered that, “Bud Patterson rode around on his horse with a cone and shouted out the announcing in the arena.”

            The stock used for the rodeo came from local farms originally. The animals were branded to keep track of them. In the last few years the Stampede organizers bought horses, which after Teepee Stampede bought horses too, were traded back and forth for the events. Many local farmers supplied stock for the event. Henry remembers bucking stock supplied by Bob Frakes and cattle supplied by Bob Mcfee, Hap McLaughlin, Pete and Charlie Moon.

            One of the memorable stories from the Bezanson Stampede was the infamous Bezanson Gravedigger. It was deemed the wildest horse. Henry remembers, “Delmer Weegar used to ride. Once when the others were chicken to get on the Bezanson Gravedigger, Delmer volunteered. He probably would have ridden it too if he hadn’t hooked his foot on the gate on the way out.”

            On top of the all of the riding events, the Bezanson Stampede also held the Pleasure Class and Glamour Class. This is where they would dress in costume and show off their horses around the corral. There were cash prizes for these groups and even a trophy for the winner. Grant remembers the last trophy possibly going to someone that was from Fort St. John.  

Rodeo clowns Delmer and David Weegar on horseback at Bezanson Stampede.

Rodeo clowns at Bezanson Stampede.

Courtesy of South Peace Regional Archives CA GPR 0502-2010.48.03

            Henry reminisces, “The Stampede was like a big family event with everyone coming. There were lots of locals with the odd out of towners. It was the biggest event of the year, everyone came and many people camped.” Hosting a big event took a lot of volunteer effort. Grant recalls, “Ten days work to get it ready, and then take it all down. A lot of work. [We had to] find people to work in booths and to volunteer.”

            When asked as to why the Stampede in Bezanson didn’t have a longer run, Grant Moon replied, “Not sure, maybe the lack of interest or it was too much work for one day. It was not because of the Teepee Creek Stampede. Guys would come from Teepee and help Bezanson and then vice versa. They always worked together with the stampedes.”  Henry Diederich recalls that the decision made to discontinue with the stampede was also due to the need to upgrade the chutes and rodeo grounds and the lack of funds to do so.

            The communities of Teepee Creek and Bezanson worked together for their stampedes. This was very important because then they were able to have more volunteers and even more horses at each of their stampedes. These communities that worked together helped each other grow and develop. They provided the assistance to help one another complete a huge event for each community. Although the stampede did not continue past 1962, the community had a successful rodeo for the little while they had and that brought them together as a community.

Stampede Day showing entire Bezanson Stampede Grounds in 1957

Courtesy of South Peace Regional Archives CA GPR 0502-2010.48.04a

Featured Image

1945 Stampede Time at Bezanson showing the cowboys Harvey Weegar, Don Stark, Desmond Stark and Jim Stark.

Photo Courtesy of South Peace Regional Archives CA GPR 0502-2010.48.01

Rental Package

Review the rental information for the Bezanson Memorial Hall and the Buffalo Gravel Gym.

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Local Football Player Receives Recognition

Local student athlete Carter LaValley who plays for the Peace Wapiti Titans is getting recognition for his football for his past 2018/2019 fall season. During his high school football season as a Titan, Carter had 285 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in a total of 5 games.

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Grand Opening

This past Saturday, October 13th, our wonderful community held the Grand Opening of our brand new Knelsen Center. It was a great turn out for the community. Many people from around the community showed up which was great, as it showed how supportive and great our community and surrounding area is. This past weekend there were lots of tables set up for our dinner with plenty of room for dancing and food tables. With this being the first formal event it was a great success and shows how many more events are going to happen in the future. Supper was done by Corinne’s Catering which was once again amazing food and the buffalo was donated by the Binns family. Prayer was led by Jeff Warkentin, and tables were called up and the eager hungry guests couldn’t wait for their food.

There was many special guests in attendance. MP Chris Warkentin, Minister Margaret McQuaig- Boyd, MLA Todd Loewen, Reeve Leanne Beaupre, Deputy Reeve Ross Sutherland, Councillor of Division 1, Harold Bulford and Councillor Tom Burton (M.D. of Greenview).  After supper was finished they began their speeches which were by Chris Warkentin, Todd Loewen, Minister McCuaig Loyd, Reeve Leanne Beaupre, Building Project Chair Rick Friesen, and Capital Campaign Manager Laura LaValley. We thank everyone who came out and supported our community.

It is with great anticipation and excitement that the Bezanson Agricultural Society is announcing the Grand Opening to their recently completed project – the new Bezanson Regional Community Cultural Centre which is officially known as the Knelsen Centre!

Photo Cred: Facebook

In our new centre there are two fixed basketball nets and two portable ones, hockey equipment, pickleball equipment, dodgeball and volleyball equipment. Many people in our community will enjoy all of these new activities available to us. There are men and women’s washrooms with change rooms and showers for each. There are two offices and a reception area in the lobby along with a donor wall, historical wall, and a tv for displaying community news and events. The new centre also has a new accessibility lift, this allows access for all abilities to go between the existing Memorial Hall as well as the Knelsen Centre. Many thanks are given to the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie and the West Smoky Legion #244 for their $19,000 contribution which fully funded this important piece for our community.

A few words from young members of our community.

“It’s good the food was really good the music is nice this is really great, it’s cool seeing it put all together and done because I’ve been watching it be put together, seeing how big and it’s really great to see, especially with such a big turn out it’s really great for our community and proves how great we are”- Eden Hatch.

“I think it’s kinda surprising to have such a great centre like this is a small town. I feel like we are setting a good example to other small towns” -Sierra LaValley.

“I am so happy to live in Bezanson and be apart of the community. I am definitely looking forward to the future events in this new facility and playing sports in such a great building” -Laurel Van der Giessen.



Written by Netisha Zacharias

Invitation to the Knelsen Centre Grand Opening

Bezanson Ag Society

January 2013 was the beginning of the discussions of what we were to do with the aging infrastructure of the Bezanson Memorial Hall and what the future looked like for the Bezanson Ag Society. From there, we hired Paul Conrad & Associates to help us determine the communities needs and desires. It was this information that we presented to the public in April 2014 that began the whirl wind of activity, excitement, fear, anticipation, and so forth and the decision was made – we were embarking on a journey that would last 5 years!! And during this time, you were part of this process!!

It is with great anticipation and excitement that the Bezanson Agricultural Society is announcing the Grand Opening to their recently completed project – the new Bezanson Regional Community Cultural Centre which is officially known as the Knelsen Centre!

The Grand Opening takes place October 13, 2018 at the new Knelsen Centre in the Buffalo Rock Gymnasium.

Supper begins at 5:30 pm followed by the Grand Opening Ceremony at 7pm and then dance the night away with the local band, Night Ryders. (6 & under are free); Cash bar on site.

Tickets are $25 for the Dine & Dance and are now available by contacting the office (780) 538-3544 or the Bezanson General Store. Our office hours are Monday – Thursday 9 am until 3 pm.

Thank you for being a part of this team!! It would be an honor to have you join us for this celebration.

Audrey Hewings
Executive Director
On behalf of the Bezanson Ag Society

Bezanson Community Centre: New Beginnings

Photo Credit: Bezanson Regional Community Cultural Centre Facebook Page

In just over two weeks, the doors of the Bezanson Regional Community Cultural Centre will officially open to the public. Now called the Knelsen Centre, thanks to a $250,000 naming rights sponsorship from Knelsen Sand & Gravel, the building will be open to the public as of the beginning of September.   Construction on the 16,000 square foot expansion to the existing Memorial Hall in Bezanson began in September 2017. The Sneak Peek on August 15 was attended by many from both the community and outside the area to view the progress to date.

For the new community centre the max occupant load is 662 people. It is an over 16,000 square foot addition including a full scale commercial kitchen and canteen, a bar, and  a regulation size gymnasium, which can double as a banquet room. We also have two fixed basketball nets and two portable ones, hockey equipment, pickleball equipment, dodgeballs, volleyball equipment. Many people in our community will enjoy all of these new activities available to us. There are men and women’s washrooms with change rooms and showers for each. There are two offices and a reception area in the lobby along with a donor wall, historical wall, and a tv for displaying community news and events.  These things haven’t actually been put up yet but will be future installations.

Photo Credit: Bezanson Regional Community Cultural Centre Facebook Page

The new centre also has a new accessibility lift, this allows access for all abilities to go between the existing Memorial Hall as well as the Knelsen Centre. Many thanks are given to the Rotary Club of Grande Prairie for their $19,000 contribution which fully funded this important piece for our community.

Please remember that we are not done fundraising for our new facility. If there is any way you can help there is many ways you can, our community needs you!

Family donations: Join forces with your family members and make a donation together in your family’s name.

Memorial Donations: Honor a loved one in our Centre for years to come. Leave a legacy in our community.

Community Builders Wall: Any donations over $500 will have a place on this prestigious wall of dedicated community members

Naming Rights: There are 2 sports packages and the kitchen equipment package still available.

Call Laura LaValley, Campaign Manager for further info or to donate – 780-814-3113.

Keep your calendars open for Saturday, October 13 for the Grand Opening of the new Knelson Centre. Dinner will be from 5:30 to 7:30, the grand opening will be from 7:00 to 8:00 and then there will be a dance with the Night Ryders from 9:00 to 1:00.  Tickets are now available at the office during office hours of 9 – 3 pm. $25 for the Supper & Dance & $15 per ticket for Supper or $15 for the Dance. Children 6 & Under are free.


Written By: Netisha Zacharias

Gold at Nationals

Recently, Bezanson local Jason Cote accomplished an incredible goal in his Outdoor Power and Recreational Equipment Skills Competitions. After placing first in regionals and provincials, Jason continued on to nationals and came out with another first place in his competition.

Cote first went to school at Bezanson School and continued onto Peace Wapiti Academy where he represented the Titans in this skills competition. He began at Peace Wapiti Academy in 2015, making this his graduation year. Cote’s future plans include going to Fairview in order to start his Heavy-Duty Mechanics career. Some of Jason’s hobbies include quadding, fixing his quad and fixing his truck.


Last year, Cote made it to provincials and got silver. Although he did not qualify for nationals, the individual that placed first was unable to attend Nationals so Cote went. Cote competed in Nationals and came out with another silver. Cote says, “After seeing what was at nationals last year, I could prepare and practice the skills, that I was not so good at, coming into this year.”

In order to get to Nationals this year, Cote first competed in the regional competition where he received a first-place win. He then moved on to the provincial competition in Edmonton where he received, yet another, first place. Cote returned to Edmonton and competed in the Nationals competition where he received first place and is currently titled the best in Canada for his category! This all began from the practice and hard work that Cote put in previously to these competitions. Hard work does pay off, and it feels incredible. Cote says, “It felt so amazing to win Nationals and everyone was so encouraging when going to Nationals!”

 

Written by Ally Pilgrim

Fenton Greenhouses – Bezanson's Local Greenhouse

Fenton Greenhouses – Bezanson’s Local Greenhouse
Address: 725026B Rgrd35 County of GP No. 1
Phone: (780) 567-2107
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Fenton-Greenhouses-359148614225221/

Photo Credit: Fenton Greenhouses

Fenton Greenhouses is a local family owned and operated business in the Bezanson area, it is a seasonal operation through the beginning of March to mid June. The greenhouses are owned by the Fenton family and it is run by Bruce Fenton and other staff members from all around the community. The staff at this facility are extremely caring, always have a smile on their faces and will always put their customers first.  

“I love my job. In the middle of snow and cold I work in the dirt and plants. Fenton Greenhouses hires local people and are a great employer” says employee Janet Sarmaga.

Photo Credit: Fenton Greenhouses

This local business have been running for just over 30 years and it all began with small houses for Helen Fentons own use. Then she began selling plants to her neighbours and the community. There are presently five greenhouses, however during the season four are used for baskets to be hung and plants to be arranged on tables. The fifth house is a custom house where all of the custom orders are placed and held.

On Sunday May 27, 2018 there was a devastation at the greenhouses in the early morning. The main house, also known as the till house, had a blaze. The cause of the blaze is still unknown. This fire burned through the greenhouse causing many plants and flowers to die. Any hanging baskets that were still alive were moved into a different house to be watered and to get the care they needed. As well as any flowers that had made it through the fire were watered, rinsed and placed outside to get some fresh air and for customers to purchase. The staff is working hard to clean up the rest of the debris and to get back to normal. The greenhouses are still open for business during their hours.

Fenton Greenhouses still offers a wide variety of plants. They offer many different types of herbs and vegetables, for example they sell cucumbers, green peppers, hot peppers, celery, tomatoes and many different others. As well as an incredibly large range of flowers to choose from, they have roses, petunias, geraniums, sunflowers, begonias, succulents, spikes, carnations, lavender plants, marigolds, and many more.  You must hurry in at the begining to make sure you get them before they’re all gone! They also sell beautiful arrangements of baskets and pots which are extremely popular in the area.

Photo Credit: Sherry Gillard

“I’ve been there [Fentons] three times this week.  Best staff ever. I planted my celery that I bought there on Tuesday when it was 31 degrees and by my own fault it wilted and died.  So I went back to get more on Saturday. I was telling the 2 ladies what I stupidly did and they took the time give me some awesome advice.  Plant in the evening when it’s cool out for one. But she told me to cut up bits of pantyhose and place on the bitten of the celery. It keeps it protected from the heat and keeps it tightly bunched while it stabilizes after planting.  I also bought 4 more of their giant plants. Then some corn and I’ve never had success with it. But after she explained in great detail how to group it I think it will be good. You just don’t get this kind of amazing service and the time and advice they give. I’ve been planting a garden for 10 years and always go to the big box stores. Never again. This place is a total hidden gem. The young ladies even fertilized all my hanging baskets before I took them and carried everything to my truck. I’ve been telling everyone about his awesome place. I’ll never buy my plants anywhere else.”
~Sherry Gillard, Customer

To keep the kids occupied while mom and dad are picking out their flowers for the flower bed at home, FentonsGreenhouses has a few animals the kids can be amused by. The kids love petting the dogs, baby sheep, and looking at the baby chicks and rabbit, and occasionally petting the horses there. Kids will sit and enjoy these animals until mom and dad have finished their shopping.

Fentons is a great place to buy any of your gardening needs, whether it be veggies, flowers, pots, hanging baskets, and many more. You can check them out by visiting their Facebook page, or calling them at (780) 567-2107.

Written by Netisha Zacharias