Since it was revealed Monday that the Stampede will be severing its ties after July’s event, the future of the competition has stirred quite a tempest, says Craig Trnka of World Championship Blacksmiths.
“Dropping the event, that’s sort of like Coca-Cola deciding that it’s not going to make Coca-Cola anymore,” he says. “It’s like if they decided that they didn’t want to have the copyrights and saying, ‘If you want to fight over it, go right ahead.’ That’s what’s going to ensue, just a giant power struggle.
“It’s better than someone saying we don’t want it,” Trnka continues. “Amongst everything from venues to sponsors to product makers to everything, it’s already starting to line up that way.”
While some in the blacksmithing industry are calling for Trnka to assume the responsibilities of continuing the event at a new venue, he says it’s just too large of a task.
“It’s a huge endeavor,” he says. “I think that I have a very narrow set of skills. We put on contests and we have a good time with it. It’s like telling a guy who picks up aluminum cans that he needs to set up a recycling center. I think we can add to it. I think we can formulate and build models, but there needs to be a lot of people cooperating and moving in the same direction. I don’t know whether it will happen, but if asked, I would love to participate in it. It’s a legacy.”
Officials confirmed this week that after 35 years, the competition no longer would be staged at the Stampede. In its place, officials will be exploring new ways to heighten the profile of blacksmithing over the entire 10 days of the Stampede, says Bonni Clark, media spokeswoman.
“This is going to be a hot-button topic until at least Calgary [is over],” Trnka says. “I think a lot of people will hold their cards close to the vest. Then, the second Calgary is done this year, you’re going to hear the referee’s bell — ding, ding, ding — and you’ll see the big swings taken.
“It would be like fighting over the mansion before the old man is dead,” he continues, “but as soon as he’s gone …”
While the future of the event remains cloudy, many in the industry are closely watching Delta Mustad Hoofcare Center, the sponsor of the WCB at the Stampede.
“While I do not have a formal statement at this time,” says Marguerite Paige, Delta Mustad’s North American marketing manager, “we are in discussions about the future of the event, and we fully expect that the 2014 edition will be a memorable one.”
The final World Championship Blacksmiths’ Competition at the Calgary Stampede is scheduled for July 3-6.