Canadian Finals Rodeo puts local businesses back in the saddle

The latest edition of the Canadian Finals Rodeo has ridden out of town, leaving behind a much needed pile of cash for local businesses which are feeling the effects of a soft economy.

'We count on the rodeo ... it's like Christmas'

The Canadian Finals Rodeo drew thousands of people to Edmonton over the course of five days. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

The latest edition of the Canadian Finals Rodeo just rode out of town, leaving behind some much needed cash for local businesses feeling pinched by a soft economy.

For the past five days, Northlands played host the 43rd annual CFR, drawing more than 87,000 people to the Coliseum.

The Farmfair International drew a record 95,500 guests to the Edmonton EXPO Centre.

Those throngs of visitors provided an up-tick in sales for businesses.

"The rodeo is very important to us," said Barry Lammle, president of Lammle's Western Wear & Tack. "That's the heart of our business. We count on the rodeo. It's like Christmas to Lammle's."

The Canadian Finals Rodeo rode into town at the perfect time for local retailers. The annual event is a boon for local businesses dealing with the downturn. 1:44
Though official 2016 estimates have yet to be released, the rodeo and Farm Fair are said to pump about $80 million a year into the local economy, according to previous reports by the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.

Those throngs of big spenders will likely be riding back into the city next year. In late October, the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association and Northlands made a surprise announcement, confirming they had signed a short-term deal ensuring the rodeo will return to Edmonton until at least 2018.

"Once again this event acted as a strong bridge between rural and urban," Tim Reid, president and CEO of Northlands, said in a statement. 

"As an agricultural society, we are proud to see the continued strength and activation while respecting the fact that many farmers and ranchers are still having to spend time in the fields harvesting their crops."