Good food, good drink and good cheer were shared at the 2019 Stampede Dinner, Dance and Auction evening last weekend.
Every year the who-is-who of the Williams Lake Stampede community alongside the wider residents of the lakecity gather together to celebrate the Stampede and unofficially kick off the preparation for the year’s event. On Feb. 23, the Elks Hall was packed with supporters of the rodeo so integral to the spirit and identity of the Williams Lake community.
For Williams Lake Stampede association president Tim Rolph, this event is always a special one. Rolph himself was raised in a ranching environment and reckons he’s been involved with the rodeo scene and cowboy lifestyle since he was at least 17 or 18 years old.
“It’s a lifestyle that we’re starting to see fade away a little bit. There’s a lot of individualism to the lifestyle and it’s kind of that last bastion of being your own boss kind of thing, that’s the (cowboy) lifestyle. That’s important, it helped build this community and (others across) B.C. and Western Canada so it’s important that we remember and recognize it,” Rolph said.
Rolph gravitated naturally to helping out with the Williams Lake Stampede, due to his background, and first got involved in “one of the premier rodeos in Canada” in the late 70s. While his love of the culture drew him in, as Rolph became a business owner himself, he came to recognize the substantial economic impact the Stampede has on the local business community and the wider community every year.
“I think the Williams Lake Stampede is a real jewel, (both) the whole event and the facility is an important part of our community,” Rolph said.
The Stampede Dinner, Dance and Auction started roughly 35 years ago, before Rolph joined the Board of Directors for the Williams Lake Stampede. The night began as and remains an important fundraiser that helps cover some of the expenses that come with putting on the Stampede, Rolph describing it as a “kick-off” for the next few months of planning.
That being said, Rolph feels that over the years the Stampede Dinner, Dance and Auction has become an important social event for the community as a whole. Looking out at the gathering that night Rolph called it an “amazing, diverse crowd” with lawyers, doctors, working cowboys, the “full range” of people from the community, all rubbing shoulders and enjoying themselves.
“We sell out our tickets within a week, people just love this event and it’s grown beyond the financial assistance for the Stampede Board to a social event the community looks forward to every year,” Rolph said.
While they definitely have enough interest to fill more than the 250 seats available, Rolph said they’re limited by the facilities within the city. However, as the Elks Hall has been a staunch supporter of them over the years Rolph feels their current venue is perfect for their needs.
At the time, Rolph did not know the exact amount they were going to make by the end of the night, but he estimated they’d likely raise a sum of $17,000 to $20,000 when all was settled and accounted for. From the energetic live auction alone that night they raised around $13,500. While Rolph couldn’t remember the names of everyone who bid on the auction items, he wanted to extend a warm thank to you all of them and every community member who supports the Stampede in their own ways.
Rolph said that for this year the dates for the 2019 Williams Lake Stampede are June 27 to July 1 with the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday all reserved for high-quality rodeo performances. The best of the best in the professional rodeo world will be coming out to the lakecity, bar none, to compete throughout these days, Rolph said. On Monday they’ll be holding a “ranch rodeo” which will be a more traditional style rodeo with more local lakecity talent in the mix.
“The Monday will be about recognizing Western heritage and what it means in our community,” Rolph said, adding they will be partnering with the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin for that day.
“Williams Lake, come out and support and embrace us for the whole weekend. Just come out, have some fun and let us entertain you,” Rolph concluded.
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