After several months off because of the pandemic, a Chatham-Kent-based rodeo group is getting ready to wow its hometown crowd once again.
The Canadian Cowgirls recently received just over $37,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation's Community Building Fund.
Terry Jenkins, the owner of TJ Stables in Chatham and founder of the local team, the money will be used to help create a virtual and in-person musical ride program.
The Canadian Cowgirls are an elite rodeo-style drill team on horseback that has been riding together for 19 years. According to Jenkins, the team has gotten the opportunity to travel across North America to perform their shows but has not gotten many chances to perform in Chatham-Kent.
She said she plans to use the money to put on a local in-person show and also film the show so it can be viewed virtually as well. While most of the Canadian Cowgirls shows are patriotic, Jenkins said this one will also be a special tribute to the workers that were at the frontlines of the pandemic.
According to Jenkins, to make that happen, the money will be used to cover the costs of putting on a show, including bringing on a choreographer and getting it filmed professionally as well as buying some updated equipment.
"Fortunately, the Ontario Trillium Foundation community fund has supported us to be able to purchase the equipment that we need to continue representing Chatham-Kent with our patriotic tribute to the flag, to the military and now all our front line and essential workers," she said. "Some of our essential workers were only armed with a bottle of cleaner, and some pieces of plexiglass in front of them. That was their armour for this whole COVID thing. We want to honour that and make sure everyone knows that we... appreciate that hard work."
Jenkins said she only recently found out about the provincial funding, so the show is still in its early planning stages. However, she hopes to have it ready to go by spring 2022.
After being unable to perform for several months because of the pandemic, Jenkins said she and the team are excited to get back in the saddle.
"We're very thrilled to be able to move forward with our plans," she said. "I've already had it in the back of my mind, what we want to do but now that we've got the go-ahead, we'll put our nose to the ground stone and our hoofs to the ground."