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Longtime Cloverdale Rodeo volunteer reflects on more than two decades of service

Norma Brown started giving her time at rodeo after urging from Rocky Rockwell
Longtime Cloverdale Rodeo volunteer Norma Brown is seen in this undated image. (Photo submitted: Norma Brown)

For Norma Brown, giving her time is part of who she is.

The Cloverdale resident has been giving that time as a volunteer with the Cloverdale Rodeo for more than 20 years and she’s loved every moment.

She didn’t know what to do with herself during COVID when she had to miss three rodeos in a row.

“I’ve been doing it for so long, it felt really weird for the past few years during COVID when there was no rodeo.”

Norma said longtime Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Association member and volunteer Rocky Rockwell first drew her into the Rodeo volunteer circle.

“That was the start,” she said. “He told me I needed to volunteer, so I did. Then it was year after year always being a part of rodeo. I started out for years (volunteering in) the Stetson Suite with Kathy Sheppard.”

In those early days, she remembers working every shift over the course of an entire weekend because she loved it so much.

Now she volunteers as a Wrangler. Wranglers are the ambassadors for the rodeo and they walk around the grounds bringing information and good cheer to all. Currently she’s co-chair of that program with Cindy O’Brien Hugh.

“We’re the info people,” she explained. “We talk to people, we greet people, we answer questions, we give out tin stars to the kids—we actually get to have a lot of fun.”

Over the years, she’s also volunteered at the bed races and the chili cook-off and for the Rodeo parade.

“It becomes all about rodeo in the month of May,” Norma said with a laugh. “You don’t have time for anything else.”

She added it’s important for her to volunteer because she feels it’s important to give back. She noted her community is only as good as she, and others, can make it—that through volunteering everyone can make a difference in their communities, making them better.

“The people are all amazing,” Norma said of the numerous volunteers, workers, cowboys, cowgirls, and of course the rodeo-goers.

The former Burnaby resident wasn’t sure what to expect when she moved to Cloverdale more than two decades ago. But she fell in love with the town and its charm and its people. And it’s those people that bring her back to Rodeo each year.

“I’ve met a lot of friends through volunteering too. That is so important.”

She’s excited for this year’s rodeo. In 2023, it was most of the board’s first rodeo, as there hadn’t been a rodeo in three years, so no one was sure what to expect.

“Last year was such a successful event, everybody felt really good about it,” she explained. “We pulled it off. We were kind of brand new as a board. So we were brand new in all our positions. And we were like, ‘Are we going to pull this off?’ And we did. And we had nothing but really positive feedback.”

She and Cindy are in full prep mode for Rodeo 2024, including organizing their volunteers, picking up gear, and planning out how their Wranglers will wrangle during Rodeo weekend.

Norma said they have between 60 to 80 volunteers for the program. She said you’ll see them all over the Cloverdale Fairgrounds in red vests and cowboy hats during rodeo.

As for herself, she said she’ll continue to volunteer as long as she’s able.

“The people are amazing,” she noted. “The people that I volunteer with are fabulous. Like you couldn’t get a better, more committed group of people. Everyone’s there because they have a passion for it.”

She said anyone who’s interested in becoming a volunteer with the rodeo can go to the Rodeo association website and look under the heading “Get Involved” and then click on “Volunteering.” It will contain all the information anyone needs to get the ball rolling towards becoming a rodeo volunteer.

“I encourage everyone to come out to rodeo,” she added. “And if you don’t want to volunteer just come out to the rodeo. There is a ton of stuff to do. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Once you’re on the grounds, there are a lot of free events.”

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Malin Jordan

About the Author: Malin Jordan

Malin is the editor of the Cloverdale Reporter.
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