October 9, 2018
Annual rodeo allows locators to show off their skills
Locators compete in an annual competition that showcases their skills.
By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphyThis year’s Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA) Rodeo and Excavator Challenge was held Aug. 16-17 at Georgian College in Barrie, Ont.

The rodeo (which by dictionary definition means “skills competition”), saw trained locators compete to find underground utility lines according to industry standards, accurately and within a satisfactory time frame.

Now in its 12th year, the locate rodeo is the only event of its kind in Canada, putting the spotlight on locators who are the front line workers of the Damage Prevention Industry, who are also helping to promote the significance of their role in the excavating industry. The locate rodeo allows locators to come together and demonstrate their expertise and superior locating skills in a competitive and friendly environment as locating utility lines is a mandatory requirement for any excavating work in Ontario.

Goal of the event

The goal of the locate rodeo is to recognize the profession of underground utility locating and to demonstrate the safety, skills and on-going educational efforts associated with high quality workmanship. At the end of the competition, many participants admitted it is a challenging event with fair and consistent judging, but also a lot of fun as well.


To compete in the locate rodeo, contestants must be (or have been) a practicing technician employed by a utility company, one of its locate contractors, or an owner of a private locating company. Any contestant who meets the requirement, but has located facilities in the confines of the locate rodeo event property within six months prior to the event, is ineligible to compete.

The competition

Like any major competition, the locate rodeo has specific rules and regulations to guide a fair competition. These items are clearly outlined and reviewed by the competitors and by the judges in a meeting the day before so there are no surprises during the event. Competitors are encouraged to ask questions and make sure they know all the specifics before the competition takes place. Since the site itself uses actual existing underground facilities, competitors are not allowed to visit the site in advance of the competition.

Prior to the competition, the ORCGA event coordinator and key judges visited the site to prepare for the event. All rules and regulations are published on the ORCGA website so there are no surprises to competitors on the event day. Each competitor starts with 1,000 points and deductions are then taken for any violations or deficiencies. This year’s event had 52 competitors and more than 72 volunteers, which made it a very smooth-running competition. The top three competitors also receive a cash prize.

This year’s event was a major success due to the organization of ORCGA staff and the dozens of volunteers who did an outstanding job.

Excavator challenge

The day before the locate rodeo, the ORGCA organizers another competition called the Excavator Challenge. This competition allows those who do the digging to show off their skills as well. This year’s event welcomed excavator competitors from municipalities, infrastructure owners and utility contractors. Prizes are also awarded to those who excel in this most-important area.

Feedback survey

At the conclusion of the event, a feedback survey was conducted. Sixty-four people completed the survey and results indicated a successful event that was well run and very enjoyable for all participants. All comments will be reviewed for next years’ competition to improve both the rodeo and excavator competitions.


The excavating industry should be proud of events such as these because it shows continuous dedication to training and development of industry professionals. All excavating contractors depend on these professional locators, and by law in Ontario, excavators cannot proceed on any excavation until locates have been provided through ON1CALL (1-800-400-2255).

The ORCGA offers damage prevention locate training for the locate community which offers locators certification training by knowledgeable professionals with its Damage Prevention Training (DPT) programs. These DPT programs are run year-round by the ORCGA. Locators can develop their skills through classroom and field demonstrations training and can further develop their expertise when they do additional work with their employer.

The locate rodeo allows these locators to show how good they are under pressure and under the close, watchful eye of knowledgeable judges. Thanks again to the ORCGA for its support of the development of skilled locators for the damage prevention industry.

If you are interested in attending events like this, or would like more information on training or membership in the ORCGA, please contact Jennifer Parent at jennifer@orcga.com at the ORCGA office for more information.
Terry Murphy can be reached at tvmurphy@ca.inter.net.