Northern News Services
The unconventional event pits airport equipment operators against each other in a test of skills as they manoeuvre a series of obstacle courses.
"The don't have the glamorous jobs as the pilots, but I think they are the unsung heros," said Joseph Handley Minister of Transportation, who announced the event in the boardroom of Adlair Air at the Yellowknife Airport.
"The rodeo is a way annually to show our appreciation," said Handley.
Michel Lafrance, Yellowknife Airport Manager, was also on hand adding that the event provides an awareness to unseen aspects of airport operations.
"When it is snowing and blowing these are the guys you see. These are the guys that have to be vigilant all the time. They have to be fast and they have to be effective," said Lafrance. "These are the guys that ensure the planes land in the end, they make it all happen."
It also provides equipment operators with an opportunity to travel and exchange with their colleagues on the national scene.
Curtis Mercredi is an equipment operator at the Yellowknife airport.
Among Mercredi's achievements are the overall Canadian title at the national rodeo held in 1999 and a second place finish the year prior.
This year Mercredi will be judging the competition which will feature competitors from all over Canada including three from the Northwest Territories.
Local competitors include Ernest LeGuerrier of Fort Smith, Alex Daigneault of Hay River and David Brown of Yellowknife.
The cost of the rodeo is being shared between the GNWT and event sponsors, the budget for the event is approximately $10,000.
Mercredi expects the event to be good one for its first exposure to northern Canada and he says many of competitors from other parts of Canada are looking forward to the northern experience.
"Most of them have never been north of 60 and they are really looking forward to it,' said Mercredi.
The rodeo is open to the public at no charge and events are scheduled from 9 am to noon and 1 pm to 4:30 pm on Wednesday, August 7 and 8:30 am to noon and 1 pm to 4:30 pm on Thursday.
Events will test operators skills in a truck snowblower and combined truck/sweeper on a course that will challenge them with different obstacles.
Courses include the alley dock, straight line, right angle turn, serpentine, offset alley and diminishing clearance and stop line.