Lynn Turcato is a throwback to the era of the true cowboy. Worked and rodeoed hard and never lost the love for it.
In the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association as well as the amateur circuit where he competed in the Chinook Rodeo Association, Turcato is still competing only now it is in the Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo Association (where it starts at the age of 40 and he is in the 50-59 age bracket).
On Oct. 17 at the Claresholm Agriplex during the year-end finals, Turcato earned the prestigious honour of being CSPRA’s 2020 Cowboy of the Year as nominated and selected by his peers. This came with the equally coveted Kenny McLean Memorial Buckle. McLean, a world champion saddle bronc rider is considered to be the greatest Canadian cowboy of all time.
Ever the gentleman, Turcato was thoroughly humbled by the honour. He had no idea he was going to earn the honour, not to mention the fact Turcato is not looking for attention or accolades. He wants to contribute and be a good member. To have the membership say he is the best cowboy, that means a lot to the Taber native.
“Nobody knows who it is. There is a small committee that picks it every year,” explains Turcato adding there is submissions put in by members. From there, the committee decides on a winner via how they have done during the course of the year, recent performance history, general volunteering, how you represent the Cowboy of the Year/“doing the right thing” and contributions to the Association. “They picked my name…I don’t know, there’s so many good people but I was surprised I got it because there was always other people right?
“It means a lot because of all the peers you have been around the last ten years. It is a big deal when they give you the Cowboy of the Year because it reflects on you from what the rest of the members think of you. It is the highest honour. You can win the calf roping or the team roping but this is special because it is more about your character and what you put back into the association and what you put back into rodeo.”
There was a small ceremony at the Agriplex which abided by the governmental pandemic rules.
Now he helps out with administration of the 35 year-old Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo Association Rodeo and spent four years as president and another four years before that on the board. Now he still finds time to compete. There was a partial season with ten rodeos as opposed to the usual 20 in four specific locations including the fine facility in Claresholm.
“We didn’t want to quit (doing) doing the association because it is hard to start it up again and see money for next year,” explains Turcato. He said a lot of rodeo associations shut down the competitive season in March with only a few including the Southern Alberta based Chinook and Seniors’ Association plugging through. “It was kind of a good thing. You lose committees, you lose members if you don’t keep people current…we are small. We had to be under 200 outdoors; we didn’t have any potlucks like we usually have etc…the crowds were small as it was spouses and close friends so, because we have no admission charge and we didn’t really advertise it either.”
He earned first overall in the tie down roper category in the 50-59 age group, after going into the final week in fifth place. He also competes in breakaway roping (40-64 years); team roping as the healer with the header teammate Kelly Creasy from Medicine Hat. and he also competes as the roper in the ribbon roping with his wife Glynnis who is the runner.
In his younger days Turcato was an accomplished steer wrestler.
As far as the Seniors Association goes for next year, Turcato is unsure. Like most people he just wants to get through the next week, month and remainder of the year.
“It is hard to say, we don’t know what normal is anymore,” says Turcato half joking. “The numbers are spiking now everywhere. We knew that was going to happen with the cooler weather. We will see where we go from here.”
For now he is enjoying the new buckle, his newfound shared rodeo competing with his wife and the memories which have been triggered. He will ranks this as one of his most fondest memories from rodeo.
“I think it’s up there close to it. Years ago, I have had some pretty good success at different times but it is hard to put on the very top. But as far as my age right now and where I have come from, I guess I have come full circle…it is something you can’t get 20 years ago and you can’t get it as a younger person, because you don’t put much into it right? You take from it. As you get older you don’t expect it to happen and when it does it floors you. You didn’t think you were that intricate or part of it. You are just going along doing my thing, taking care of business as president, event director…you just did it. ..when you get Cowboy of the Year you never think you are going to get that award thinking there’s so many people out there who do as much or more than I do out there.”
Now that he competes in some of the events with his wife Glynnis, it has brought a new joy to him and to her. She had to sacrifice a lot of time and was left alone many weekends as he competed and she worked and maintained the homestead. He says she only started riding a short time ago and now that they compete together, it has brought a whole new wrinkle.
“The first thing I said when I accepted (the award) is ‘I’m not old enough for this. You feel like an old man up here,” he adds with a chuckle. “We always think we are younger than we are. The first thing I thought of was how my wife stood by me all these years and taking care of kids and followed me to rodeos and supported me all those years. I just appreciated her more. Now that she’s part of it now, now that she is barrel racing, she’s come a long ways. She never used to want to get on a horse when we were first married, right up to ten years ago. She’s been been riding for eight years.”
When you hear Lynn describe it, that means a lot to him as did the award itself. How long he will compete, he doesn’t know, “as long as the body allows”. For him, that’s all you can ask for.