The Tradition Continues - Eli Barsi (pictured here with grandson Sunny) says that her father Adam Barsi began a family tradition when he drove his (then new) 1952 International Harvester L120 truck in the Kennedy Rodeo Parade. Eli has continued the tradition and this year had family members representing 4 generations of the Barsi family with her when she drove the truck in the MMPR parade.

The bright red International Harvester truck is apt to be a familiar sight to anyone who has been in Kennedy during the Moose Mountain Pro Rodeo (MMPR) and had the chance to take in the annual Rodeo Parade.
Since Adam Barsi first drove his new truck in the Rodeo Parade – 70 years ago – it has become part of MMPR history and helped members of the Barsi family to carry on the family tradition that he began.
Georgina Barsi (Adam’s wife) says that the Moose Mountain Rodeo has always been important both to her community and her family.
“The rodeo has been a big community event. When I was young, the rodeo was held at Shackleton Flats (south of Kennedy). Back then, my mom would take homemade bread, plates and frying pans when we went to the rodeo. Everyone there would get free steak to cook for their supper. Now that was a real community BBQ!
“Then, when I was about 12 years old, Adolf Sirois asked me if I would sing at the rodeo. I can remember standing up, playing my guitar and singing ‘I Want to Be A Rodeo Sweetheart’. I was certainly excited to be asked to do that!
“Later on, after Adam and I were married, the rodeo became an important event for our family. Adam bought the truck that our daughter Eli has now in 1952. He drove it in the parade for the first time that year!
“Adam continued driving the truck in the Rodeo Parade until he became ill in 2008. There were years when I would ride in the cab with him. Other years, he would have our children and grandchildren riding with him or sitting in the back and tossing candy out for the kids to pick up.”
As well, Georgina says that along with taking part in the parade, both she and Adam volunteered to help make the rodeo happen.
“Along with driving his truck in the parade, Adam’s part in the rodeo was that he volunteered to park all of the cars. It was a big job and a big responsibility. He had to park all those cars in such a way that the ambulance would still have a clear road in and out of the rodeo grounds.
“My part in it was to help out at the food booths with the CWL or the 4-H – whichever club was running it. All the money from those food booths would go to whichever organization volunteered to run it. So, the rodeo was important for those organizations too.”
Eli Barsi (Adam’s daughter) remembers looking forward to the rodeo each year.
“When you’re growing up on a southeastern Saskatchewan farm, you really look forward to the summer and all of the event that you knew would be happening! I loved the local fair and the rodeo. For me, the rodeo meant summertime. It was about friends, community gatherings and visiting with relatives. It was cotton candy and snow cones. And of course, it was about watching the rodeo and seeing my dad’s truck in the parade!”
Eli explains that her dad’s truck eventually became known as the ‘Ozark Stock Farm’ truck.
“Dad loved the Ozarks and Ozark Mountain stories – even though all that he knew about that part of the world came from the books that he read. (He probably ordered every ‘Ozark book’ you could imagine from the Kennedy Library to get him through the long winters!)
“My dad had his farm registered as the ‘Ozark Stock Farm’. By the time he bought his truck, he also had one child – my brother John. So, dad had a sign painted on the door of the truck that said: “Ozark Stock Farm – Adam Barsi & Son”.
Years later, not long after Eli and her husband John Cunningham had moved to the Ozark Mountain region with their daughter Katy – Adam decided to give his truck to Eli.
“Dad gave me the ‘Ozark Stock Farm’ truck in 2002. John, Kary and I had just moved down to Branson, Missouri (which is smack dab in the middle of the Ozark Mountains!). Dad said that I could have the truck to drive around down there.
“I knew how much he loved that truck. So, I was thrilled and honoured that he chose to give it to me. But I decided that the truck should remain on the Barsi farm for 7 more years – until he passed away in 2009.
“Looking back, I’m so glad that I left the truck for him, since he got to have many more years to enjoy driving it and taking it in the MMPR parade!”
After Adam’s passing, Eli and her family returned to Canada – and she decided to restore the truck and take up the tradition her father had started.
“After we moved back to Canada and bought our home in Moosomin, I brought the truck here and had some body work and a paint job done on it. That’s all I had to do. The interior of the truck and the original engine are still in impeccable shape – even though the truck is 70 years old!
“Since then, I’ve tried to block the MMPR weekend off each year, so that I can take part in the parade with Dad’s Truck. This year’s parade was extra special, because we had 4 generations of the Barsi family (my mom Georgina, myself, my daughter Katy and my grandson Sunny) all riding in the cab!”
Eli’s daughter Katy says that having the opportunity to take part in this longstanding family tradition is something that she hopes her son will enjoy as well.
“When I was a kid, I’d usually visit grandpa and grandma on the farm during the summer. The rodeo was always a big event. Our whole family would try to get together. For me, it was just so much fun! I was an only child, so having the chance to visit with my cousins was great!
“I also remember riding with my grandpa in the parade. He would tell me stories about my mom when she was a little girl.
Now this year, I had the chance to ride in his truck again with grandma, mom and my own son!
“Sunny is still too young to understand. But I’m hoping that this is something that he’ll be able to take part in as he gets older. I think it’s good for a family to have traditions like that. It makes good memories!”
Eli adds that she has come to appreciate how important the rodeo still is for her hometown and how crucial a role volunteers play in ensuring that community tradition will continue.
“Volunteers are essential to the rodeo – and to any small-town event. In the early days, it was volunteers (like my mom and dad and MANY others) who made the rodeo happen.
“To this day, I am still impressed with the community spirit and the incredible group of volunteers that make the rodeo what it is today.”
Even though it’s been years since Adam Barsi first drove his new truck in the Rodeo Parade, Eli says that she often feels that he is riding with her still.
“It’s very important to me, that I am able to carry on my dad’s legacy and share that experience with my family. We get a lot out of being in the parade and I always hope that seeing my dad’s truck brings a smile and a memory to others as well.
“I know that Dad is always nearby. But I always feel an extra strong sense that he is present when I’m driving that old red truck.”

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