Organizers of North America’s top rodeos will be watching Cloverdale this weekend as a potential model of how rodeos might be run in the future.

The Cloverdale Rodeo, the second largest rodeo in terms of payout in Canada, adopted an “invitational” format last year, dropping the calf roping and steer wrestling competitions that had been the target of animal rights protests.

“We were very nervous … we were the first rodeo in the world to go this format,” said Laura Ballance, a spokeswoman for the 63rd annual Cloverdale Rodeo and 120th annual Country Fair.

“We saw a lot of new spectators who appreciated the change in format and appreciated the direction we went … We felt that it was the kind of thing that needed to be done for our community.”

This year’s event features the four reigning world champions, the four reigning Canadian champions and the four defending Cloverdale Rodeo champions.

Ballance said last year’s rodeo drew organizing committees from rodeos across North America. Among those in attendance this year is a group from the Texas Stampede, a large rodeo in Dallas.

The Cloverdale Rodeo begins Friday and runs all weekend. The finals are 2 p.m. Monday.