Asked why he competes in rodeo, Virgil Poffenroth is quite frank.
“We are a dying breed and rodeo is one of our longest traditions,” Poffenroth said. “I’m doing my best to keep it alive.”
The 26-year-old family man is one of Canada’s young, up and comers in tie-down roping.
Born in Riske Creek just west of Williams Lake, he came up through the top ranks of the B.C. High School Rodeo Association.
He competed in the B.C. Rodeo Association where he won the season leader saddle twice, as well as the finals, plus two go rounds.
From there, he decided to turn professional.
Poffenroth, along with his wife, Caterina and son, Rino, recently made the move to Alberta.
“To compete in the Canadian Pro Rodeo circuit, it’s so much easier being over in Alberta,” he said. “It’s hard on the horses making the constant haul over the mountains.”
You won’t find many others with as much dedication to the sport as Poffenroth.
When he’s not travelling to a rodeo he’s in the practice pen critiquing and improving himself, all while keeping a full-time job as a hired hand at a large Alberta feedlot.
Poffenroth doctors cows, delivers calves and fixes machinery at the feedlot.
“The Kellys have been great to me,” he said. “They understand and love rodeo as much as I do, so if I’m up at a Wednesday morning slack performance they don’t mind if I’m not at work.
“If I’m not at a rodeo on a weekend I’ll be at the feedlot.”
Poffenroth grew up around rodeo. His dad, Bryan, calf roped and his mom, Raylene, ran barrels.
He’s come by the sport naturally, picking up a rope as soon as he could fit it in his hand.
Whether it was roping his cat or his little sister, Bailey, he hasn’t stopped, and loves helping others with their roping.
When Poffenroth lived in Riske Creek, high school calf ropers would travel to the house during the summer and they’d be out in the practice pen improving their roping.
“Kids just love him,” Caterina said. “We will be at family functions and there Virg will be roping the dummy or playing tag with the kids.
“There’s always one little one who doesn’t know how to swing a rope yet there’s Virgil teaching them how.”
Poffenroth said he’s looking forward to competing this weekend at the Williams Lake Stampede.
“Williams Lake is my favourite rodeo,” he said. “It’s one I’ve always wanted to win.
“It’s a great atmosphere and it’s awesome being in front of my hometown crowd.”
Poffenroth will be competing in the Sunday afternoon Williams Lake Stampede, which starts at 1:45 p.m.