History of Cherry Grove Big Buck Night
The Cherry Grove Big Buck Night was originally developed by Bob Sales. He had visited several events with his Boone and Crockett mount and wanted to bring the same experience to the Cherry Grove area.
Bob was quickly joined by 5 other committee members: Pete Phillips, Brian Hamilton, John Hillier, George Walker and Dan Walchuk. The decision was made that the event would ultimately raise funds for the Cherry Grove Little Britches Rodeo, and the committee members started volunteering their time to develop the show. The 1st Annual Cherry Grove Big Buck Night was held on December 19, 2009. The attendance and participation surprised everyone, including the organizers. There were 54 horn entries and 296 people attended the show. Even in it’s first year, the event quickly established a reputation as a well run event with excellent competition, great prizes, and fantastic displays.
Lessons learned after the first event were captured and implemented in preparation for the 2nd Annual show. A website was launched to showcase the winners of the event and acknowledge the generous sponsors. A more streamlined registration and score tracking process were implemented, allowing the judges to score horns in a shorter period of time. The sponsors increased their donations from previous years. The result was the 2nd Annual Cherry Grove Big Buck Night saw a total of 79 entries! Attendance was estimated at 500 and there were even more prizes than the previous year. The event solidified it’s place as being one of the premier big buck night events in Alberta!
The 3rd Annual event managed to shine despite a provincial decrease in entries. Other local big buck night events were down as many as 50% of entries! However, Cherry Grove had 72 entries. A new event layout assisted the scoring team in completing the scores even faster than previously. This event also saw an increase in mounts, which provided for a more well rounded event. Children’s activities were introduced. Despite a decrease in entries, scores were fantastic, with many all time high scores being beaten.
The 4th Annual event brought in even bigger entries than anticipated. There was a sense of anticipation as most regular attendees predicted larger entries than previous years, predictions that didn’t disappoint. Getting bigger entries ended up not being a problem, as 89 entries were submitted! 5 new All Time High Scores were introduced, with Jessica Freed winning a record breaking 3 years in a row in the Youth – Mule Deer category! The category winners accumulated a staggering 2292 3/8 inches of horn. That is over 191 feet of horns over 12 events!
The 5th Annual event was a great success despite horrible weather. Many of the shows regular attendees from far away simply could not risk the extremely poor driving conditions to attend. As a result, attendance was significantly lower than the previous year. Predictions were for less entries and smaller antlers, as the general consensus was that it was not as good a year for hunters. Despite this, 2 new All Time High Scores were introduced, with a beautiful 200+ non-typical whitetail entry! Prizes were also a hot topic, as rifle prizes were expanded to cover the core 8 categories, with an increase in youth prizes. Despite a lower number of entries (63) and attendance, the 5th Annual event was a resounding success!
The 6th Annual event saw 65 entries. Predictions were for less entries but bigger horns, and the predictions were on the money. At 65 entries it was an average year, but man were there some big horns! While only one All Time High Score was set, the average horn size was phenomenal. Mother nature can’t seem to find a happy medium for the show, as the weather was absolutely beautiful. This resulted in a lower number of spectators throughout the day, but a massive turnout for the tail end of the show. This show also saw a reduction in returning competitors, and an entirely new crop of hunting enthusiasts. What a show! With a new fundraising model in place for this show, show proceeds were allocated to Haying in the 30s, an amazing local charity. Cherry Grove Big Buck Night was pleased to notify Haying in the 30s that a cheque for $5000 was being donated on behalf of the show.
The 7th annual show had a huge buildup before the event. The weather was good and text messages with monster horns were circulating. The organizing committee spent some extra time on preparing several “what if we have a huge turnout” scenarios. Despite all preparations, no one was prepared for a record breaking 128 entries! 491 people went through the door, prizes were top notch, and we had 3 new All Time High Scores set. Massive horn after massive horn came through the door. Horns that would have won in any other year didn’t win simply due to the sheer mass of large horns. Our scorers and admin were overwhelmed by the amazing entries. The committee was very proud to present Second Chance Trail Ride with a cheque for $5000.
The 8th annual show was the first show when things really felt “routine”. However, with the extended downturn in the economy, the committee was concerned about donations and prizes. It was a slow start, and it looked like the committee’s concerns were valid. However, late in the game, a few extra donations came in and in the end prizes were even bigger than better. A $5000 installed heating system as a prize? Unbelievable! Then the committee started hearing about some monster horns. After the 2015 show, the commmittee doubled it’s back end admin staff and added an extra scorer. That didn’t prepare for the sheer mass of horns. While the numbers dropped a bit, there were more moose and elk entries, which take a lot of time to measure. And the size resulted in 5 new All Time High Scores! So far approximately $2500 has been donated to repairs and upgrades to the Cherry Grove skate shack and storage building on the rodeo grounds. The committee is calculating the show proceeds and an announcement will be made on the size of the cheque donated to Haying in the 30s.
It will be interesting to see if the 9th Annual Cherry Grove Big Buck Night can top the 2016 show! The organizers will be doing everything they can to ensure that happens!
Displays from 2010 Cherry Grove Big Buck Night