A career that started in high school back in the 1960's has been recognized by the World Pro Rodeo Association.

The WPCA handed out its George Normand Lifetime Builder's Award to radio broadcaster Arnie Jackson.

He admits he didn't come to chuckwagon racing naturally.

"It actually was an acquired discipline. I had been to the chucks with my dad who was a commissionaire and worked the stage at the Calgary Stampede so he was always entitled to a guest pass for one or two days of the Calgary Stampede, which was only six days in those days, they would never run on a Sunday because of the Sabbath Day regulations in the province, that  you couldn't sell anything that wasn't a necessity, so Stampede would run Monday to Saturday and dad would take me down and I stand by the stage and then I'd get to meet the winning chuckwagon driver for the night," he says

He points out that was the old grandstand, not the one that stands there now.

"My drama teacher, Dr. Betty Mitchell at Western Canada High School, said 'you have a voice that needs some training because I need you for a play in the spring to be off stage, but we need your voice' and so I was introduced to radio through my drama teacher when she called CFAC radio and the morning man Clarence Mack and asked if he could look after me, get some voice training, breathing, enunciation, articulation, all the good things that go into broadcasting and I've been in radio ever since high school."

He says this year is 55 years since he started to learn the chuckwagons from the broadcast stand, when Iris Glass and Lorne Ball took him under their wings, and he provided race times by manually adding up all the times for the aggregate times at the end of the races and he learned to love the chucks ever since.

He looks back at the drivers he met early on like Orvell Strandquist, Slim Helmig and Tom and Dallas Dorchester.

"Those guys just took me right under their wings, I did some interviews with them and learned the sport, not being a rural kid growing up, I grew up in the city and went to Western Canada High School, but it didn't take long to transition because those people were so welcoming, I became part of their family."

Jackson says being honoured with an award that bears the name of George Normand is extra special.

"Two of the great heroes that I had in chuckwagon racing more recently, Dallas Dorchester who passed away and George Normand who was killed in Ponoka coming off the barrel when his wagon flipped and the other wagons ran over him, so the honour that I got this year bestowed on me was particularly special because George Normand had just won High River the weekend before the Ponoka Stampede and I had done a TV interview for Shaw TV with him sitting up in the wagon box and he had his arm around me and I will never forget that."

He's had quite a history with broadcasting the races including in High River.

"I think before the newer grandstand was built Don McCracken and Lorne Ball and everybody would come and help me broadcast the races on CHRB and I think that was one of two stations that ever did any radio or chuckwagon racing. Joe Carbury of course at CFAC was doing the Calgary Stampede and we later expanded that so we could do Strathmore and Medicine Hat, but it's only been the last 20 or 25 years that I've gone the whole circuit starting in Grande Prairie in the spring and finishing up with the finals, this past year at Century Downs."

He's looking forward to going to Las Vegas for next month's National Finals Rodeo, his 48th year there.

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