Riding ATVs is in the Battenfelder family's blood.
For the past six years, Mike Battenfelder has been the main organizer for the Battenfelder ATV Rodeo in Camp Creek, Alberta. He took over the family-organized event when his father Henry passed away. Since then, it has been renamed the Henry Battenfelder Memorial ATV Rodeo to honour its founder.
Henry Battenfelder, Mike's father, was the originator of the event back in May 2001. He passed away six years ago. — Photo courtesy Battenfelder ATV Rodeo
By the time Mike had taken the reins, his family had developed quite the legacy that he was thrilled to be a part of.
"My dad, my brother and two of my cousins were the main organizers that started this way back when," Battenfelder said. "The history is getting close to 17 to 18 years."
Battenfelder was working out of the country when the event first began in May of 2001. He feels the event formed around the natural rivalries his family members shared.
"It was just a bunch of competitive relatives when it started out," Battenfelder said, "We're all very competitive in everything we do and were just sitting around having a few beers when someone said, 'Hey, we should start a quad rodeo.' So we had decided what the quad rodeo would be and over the years, it got a lot safer. Safety is a key factor today. It's a lot easier on the machines and it's become very, very competitive."
While Battenfelder jokes about working with family on an event that brings in over 800 people annually, he admits that it's good to have family involved.
"Sometimes it creates a little bit of friction because people have different ideas and if one of the people's ideas isn't accepted, it's taken the wrong way. When it's family, it becomes a little bit touchier," Battenfelder said. "As of today, there's not many changes we make. I'm the one who decides what we are going to do with the track. Safety regulations I run across with my two cousins who were involved since day one."
FULL TIME ORGANIZER, PART-TIME RIDER
One of Mike Battenfelder's biggest concerns coming back to organize the ATV rodeo was his lengthy absence from the sport. Battenfelder had been working out of the country for years, away from quads or the sport in general.
ATVs at the ready for another event at the rodeo. — Photo courtesy Battenfelder ATV Rodeo
"I had not rode at all hardly for 10 to 12 years, then I was getting back in and being competitive in nature," Battenfelder said. "So perhaps I don't ride quite as good as I did once upon a time. To accept that kind of sucks, so you continue to push and continue to ride."
Despite his absence, Battenfelder kept in touch with family and heard all about the event's success from his father.
"I always got to see lots of pictures because I would come out once a year. Unfortunately not when the event was held, but you would see lots of pictures. I'd talk to my dad and I knew how it evolved over the years," Battenfelder said.
Battenfelder even gets on his ATV for the event each year, taking part in team events with his family.
"It's great. On my team, I have my one cousin, who was one of the original organizers. His son rides on my team," Battenfelder said. "It's great to keep a family event going. It promotes the sport, plus it promotes family—how can you ask for anything else?"
EXTENDING THE BATTENFELDER FAMILY
The Henry Battenfelder Memorial ATV Rodeo will hold its first dates of the season June 2 to 4, 2017, bringing in many who have frequented the event for years.
There's no shortage of riders for this annual event. — Photo courtesy Battenfelder ATV Rodeo
Battenfelder feels every person who races on an ATV or cheers from the crowd is more or less like family.
"If someone comes out and rides in this event and they go home and say they didn't have fun, they've got one person to blame," he said. "If somebody breaks down, there will be 10 guys there that you don't even know that'll help you get back up and running. Some of the guys have been here since day one."
The ATV rodeo is set for June 2 to 4 in Camp Creek, Alberta. Other events this year include the July 22-23 Drag Race and Mud Bog and the September 22-24 Fall Rodeo. For more information, go to www.battenfelderatvrodeo.com.