ESTEVAN - As you could guess, I spent most of the long weekend working at the rodeo.
And since on the horse I perform way worse than any of the peewee division racers, I did what I do better – I observed and took pictures to then share the story with those who were there and those who for some unfortunate reasons had to skip the Estevan Exhibition Association KCRA Rodeo weekend.
It was a blast. This year’s rodeo weekend was put together in a matter of one month. Contestants came from all across Saskatchewan, dozens of businesses stepped in to make it possible and so hundreds of families with their kids had something to do on a weekend. And many, many families from Estevan and surrounding communities used the opportunity.
I don't remember when was the last time I saw so many kids hanging out together outside of school. The rodeo weekend had something to offer every age. And while I tried to get a grasp of everything, I also had a chance to just spend time in good company.
At some point, I had an interesting conversation with friends about where it's better to raise kids, in a smaller community or in a big city. As you may know, I was born and raised in a city with five-million people, so I feel like a duck to water in urban settings. But over the past eight years, I also realized many advantages smaller communities have to offer.
So while at the rodeo, we started talking about a better environment for the first years of life. Assuming that the goal is to raise the happiest and most successful human being, my friend said that nothing can compete with the opportunities big cities have, which is true. But to me, it's true to a point.
Often, communities the size of Estevan in Canada mainly focus on sports and are pretty advanced in that, but I noticed that when it comes to any kind of other development, smaller cities lack variety.
On the other hand, we soon agreed that during the very first years of life, safety and friendliness of the surrounding environment play a bigger role than potential extracurricular. And Estevan is in surplus supply of that.
That was the feeling I had here from the very beginning. People who've been born, raised, and lived for 40 plus years here may say that Estevan is not the same anymore. That it's not as safe. That you have to lock your vehicle here now and have video surveillance if you live out of town. But if you've lived in a big city, Estevan is a serene harbour when it comes to the sense of safety and security.
People look after one another here. And even if tragedies do happen, it's nowhere close to the level of crime in bigger centres. It's way harder to get away with anything here, so quite often it doesn't even make sense to try. And as a footnote, it does feel way safer here, which is an awesome advantage when it comes to raising your offspring.
So obviously during the early years of life, communities like Estevan might be a better choice for young families. The pandemic has made it even more clear that places with less population have way more advantages in this day and age.
I don't know much about other communities the size of Estevan in Canada, but while cities have more to offer in a sense of development, they teach more skills just by making life a bit more challenging, I learned here that this Energy City does make every effort to ensure it's offering the most possible to its residents.
The rodeo, where that debate took place, was just one of the many examples. A full-scale professional event allowed for entertainment, experience and learning about how many things there are in the world. Beautifully organized, it kept everyone engaged throughout the past weekend.
There are many other options for the young generation to learn how diverse this world is and to start taking steps towards their future paths early on. There might be not as many particular classes as in Regina or other cities, but there are definitely many things happening in town to give everyone a taste of what's out there for options.
The Mercury does write quite often about the Estevan area expats that made careers in different areas, from bronze medalists at Paralympics, like Midale’s Keely Shaw, to military staff support to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, like Jami (Suchan) Carter; from NHL stars like Theoren Fleury and others raised in this corner, to great musicians like Chris Henderson and Todd Kerns, from provincially recognized doctors like Sarah Sliva to poets like the late Eli Mandel and many others.
What I'm trying to say is that if there is talent, there is room to grow it and there are opportunities to develop it right here in Estevan. There are opportunities to become professional sportsmen. There are opportunities to grow into artists. There are opportunities to develop in politics, let alone business. There are opportunities to live a full life right here.
And the past weekend was another example of one of the many opportunities Estevan provides to its residents.
Sincere thanks to everyone involved with the event.