Twentieth anniversary Glen Keeley Bull Riding this weekend

By Rob Vogt
It all started 20 years ago when a bunch of friends and brothers met in the basement of the Stavely Hotel.
Bull rider Glen Keeley had died four years earlier, and they thought it was time to honour his life and his legacy.
The result was the Glen Keeley Memorial Bull Riding, which has been entertaining crowds and making a difference in the community for two decades.
The 20th anniversary Glen Keeley Memoirial Bull Riding takes place at the Stavely Arena outdoors this Saturday, August 19.
Barry Arnestad has been a member of the
organizing committee from the beginning.
“We’re pretty much the same core guys,” he said. “Glen was a friend of all of ours.”
Glen Keeley was a Canadian bullriding champion, cattle rancher, brother, son and friend, who passed away on March 24, 2000 while competing at the
Ty Murray PBR Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was sitting in the top 10 of the world at the time.
In 2004, friends and family organized the first Glen Keeley Memorial Bull Riding and have never looked back.
“It’s all in memory of Glen,” Arnestad said. “It was his passion.”
He stressed Keeley was always the first one to help out.
“He was an inspiration to all of us,” Keeley said.
That first event in 2004 was very successful.
“We thought – we can do this again,” Arnestad said. “It’s carried on from there.”
In addition to championship-calibre bull riding, the event has
always been much more.
“From meeting number one we said, ‘we’re going to give back,” Arnestad said.
The result has been a benevolent fund that supports organizations in the area, the health foundation, people in need in crisis, and initiatives such as Claresholm junior rodeo and Nanton Nite Rodeo.
Another component of the Glen Keeley Memorial Bull Riding is the scholarship program.
Every year they present four $2,000 scholarships.
“It’s been really well received,” Arnestad said.
With this year’s recipients, the total will be 80 winners.
The organizing committee has followed up this year to see what some of those winners are doing now.
“How this money helped these people pursue their careers,” Arnestad said.
The total given out in scholarships will reach $150,000 this year.
In total, donations to the community will exceed $390,000 over 20 years, including the benevolent fund and scholarships.
This year’s edition of the Glen Keeley Bull Riding will be a two-night event.
Friday night, Aug. 18, will feature steer riding, junior bull riding and a lot of local youth riding.
The top two will ride in the main performance on Saturday night.
“They get to ride with the big boys,” Arnestad said.
Admission is free, so everyone is invited out to come watch on Friday.
Saturday night, Aug. 19, is the Professional Bull Riders, or PBR, event in the outdoor arena.
The steak supper is back this year, put on by the Stavely Elks.
David Poulsen and Brett Gardiner will be calling the action, and there will be a live band, “Uncle Cranky”, after the bull riding as well.
This year’s Glen Keeley Memorial Bull Riding promises to make some new memories to go along with the ones created over the past 20 years.
“When I think back,” Arnestad said. “It brought a lot of incredible events.”
Because Keeley was so big in the sport of bull riding, riders wanted to win the event.
“They really brought their ‘A’ game,” Arnestad said.
Those riders
included Canadian and Calgary Stampede champions such as Claresholm native Chad Besplug and Tanner Girletz.
“They were close to Glen, so it meant a lot,” Arnestad said.
He is impressed with the fact not only is the event still going on, but it matters to riders born after Keeley died.
“They still want to win this event,” he said. “That’s something we’re really proud of.
“They know who Glen was.”
Tickets are available at
They are also at the Town of Stavely office and Cowboy Country.
Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. The price includes the bull riding and the band.
Tickets for the steak supper are $25.
Arnestad invites everyone to come out to the Glen Keeley Memorial Bull Riding.
“It’ll be a PBR event with some of the top riders attending,” he said.
One of those riders is Claresholm’s Griffin Smeltzer who has been making a name for himself in the PBR.
Arnestad said the proceeds go to a great cause and the event has been named event of the year in the PBR.
“It’s worth seeing if you never have,” he said. “And if you have, come back for more.
“It’s well worth it.”