By Mark McMillan
The Kamloops Cowboy Festival, the British Columbia Cowboy Heritage Society (BCCHS) Student Scholarships, the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Joe Marten Memorial Award for the Preservation of Cowboy Heritage in BC, and the Mike Puhallo Memorial Scholarship are all part of the BCCHS mandate.
The BC Cowboy Heritage Society was incorporated on June 5, 1996 and the objective was to promote, encourage, establish, conduct and operate events and activities relating to the preservation of cowboy heritage in B.C., while fostering and developing community interest.
The society is a registered non-profit society and is totally run by volunteers.
One of the biggest events the society does is the Kamloops Cowboy Festival, which is held annually on the second weekend in March.
The festival brings in over 40 true cowboy entertainers for the weekend with the focus on keeping the cowboy tales alive in music and cowboy poetry – emphasizing that the event is a cowboy festival and not a country music fest.
It includes a cowboy trade show with booths selling just about anything western – home decor, art in many forms, saddles and tack, numerous horse products, cowboy/western clothing, etc.
The Festival is also home to the Art of the West Show and Sale which features juried art, photography and sculpture.
The five student scholarships, for $500 each, offered each year are paid out to students whose entries must depict the cowboy and/or ranching lifestyle. Cowboy poetry, short stories, art, and cowboy crafts are the categories.
For more information on the society components, see www.bcchs.com. It includes the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Joe Marten Award archives, as well as information on all of the above.
Mark McMillan is the president of the BC Cowboy Heritage Society.