When you think of the Williams Lake Stampede posters, there is often one image that comes to mind: a little red Chevy truck.
It’s an image, often alongside a hidden year date, that can be seen on the posters thanks to the artwork of Brent Lynch, who the Williams Lake Stampede Association commissioned to do the first official poster in 1983.
“One of the reasons we went to sell posters in 1983 was because our Stampede advertising posters were very good, and I think prior to Stampede as soon as we put the posters up in places people would steal them,” said Fred Thomas. He’s a Stampede director and has been on the board for 30 years.
He credits Anita Crosina with the idea to develop their own for sale.
Lynch designed the posters between 1983 and 1995 and the Chevy truck became a bit of a signature, though it’s also showed up in posters by other artists after the fact.
In 1995, the Stampede Association created a contest, where they asked for people to submit their artwork.
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Local artists like Randy Moe and Dwayne Davis have made their mark on local posters. In later years, submissions were opened to photographs, and photographers like Laureen Carruthers and the Tribune’s Greg Sabatino and have seen their shots grace the posters.
“It has evolved over the years,” said Thomas. “We’ve never said we are going to have a particular theme. We just leave that up to the individual’s own initiative or what they thought would work and that’s where they are at today.”
Most, he said, have either a human or an animal element to them, or even a moment from the Stampede’s 92-year history.
The 1983 poster, that features the truck prominently, with a cowboy sleeping in the back on way to the Stampede was the most popular, said Thomas, selling out almost immediately.
The infield office at the Stampede Grounds has most of the posters on its walls, and it’s not the only location in town to feature the posters.
The posters are a fundraiser for the Stampede Association — most can be purchased for around $15 from the Stampede Office.
“It’s another way of us promoting the Stampede and getting the name out. We don’t get rich at it, but it does help from a marketing point of view too. These posters show up all over North America and Europe.”
The new poster is eagerly awaited each year.
“You have an expectation that it is going to be bigger and better than the year before. I think the poster itself has become a bit of a legend over the past 35 years and people want to have a glimpse of what it is.”