The 24th Annual Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo is fast approaching April 18-20, and with it also comes the popular, family-friendly Cowboy Carnival.
It all starts at 9 a.m. with a chance for kids aged 10 and under to try their hand at becoming a cowboy or a cowgirl by getting down in the dirt at the arena.
Stations will be set up with various events including dummy roping, stick horse barrel racing, riding a bucking barrel or meeting a real-life pony.
Kids will also get to interact with the rodeo clown and Williams Lake Stampede Royalty, along with other fun activities.
“Last year was our introduction to the event and the turnout was overwhelming,” said director and Cowboy Carnival co-ordinator, Brigette Peel. “It was pretty easy to see that this needed to become an annual part of the already fun-filled weekend of the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo.”
Terris Billyboy, the 2012 Williams Lake Stampede Princess, first brought the proposal to the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo directors after she returned from the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton.
“As Stampede Princess, I was fortunate enough to be able to take part in the CFR’s Rodeo Magic,” Billyboy said.
“There, children with special needs are paired up with competitors and rodeo royalty to tour the arena and take part in the stations set up.
“It was very touching to watch and be part of the interactions and it was a highlight of my reign as Stampede Princess. I knew right away this was something I needed to bring back to Williams Lake.”
Billyboy said they began by inviting members from the Child Development Centre and the Strong Start program, and the carnival grew from there.
“In preparing for the event we received a phone call from a social worker stating their office had received the information and was invited to come, too,” she said. “We were concerned our little event was going to be much bigger than expected.”
It definitely was, as an estimated 200-plus little cowboys and cowgirls came out to play cowboy for a morning.
This year will likely follow suit as the carnival is scheduled for Good Friday.
Doors open at 9 a.m. with the carnival running until 11 a.m sharp, as the arena needs to be prepared for the first rodeo performance Friday night at 6 p.m.
Admission is absolutely free and all children must be accompanied by an adult.
So dust off the tiniest of cowboy hats and polish those little boots and bring the kids down to the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo Cowboy Carnival.