Patrick Davies photo A collection of local business leaders like Chrisse Gertzen ensured that the annual Stampede Street part happened this year.

Downtown embraces Stampede Street Party

Business community and the City of Williams Lake unite to bring this event back

While Downtown Williams Lake may no longer be involved, a half dozen downtown businesses have rallied together to bring this year’s Stampede Street Party to Williams Lake.

Originally cancelled due to a lack of volunteers, the popular and long-running Stampede Street Party seemed to be coming to an end earlier this year. However, several members of the community stepped forward to organize the event and petitioned the City of Williams Lake to allow it. It returns Saturday, June 29 just before noon until 3 p.m., right after the annual Daybreak Rotary Stampede Parade.

Chrissie Gertzen, owner of Poppy Home and Adventure Charters, is just one of several members of the business community who decided they wanted the street party to happen this year. She said they include Bob Sunner from Lake Town Furnishings, Carl Johnson from Kit and Kaboodle, Heidi Strong from the Williams Lake Indian Band and Willie Dye, now under the moniker of Ultimate Arty.

Read More: New businesses consider organizing the Stampede Street Party

“We’re kind of the core group that said, OK, the street party needs to stay. We think it’s great for the downtown, we think it’s great for the city, let’s see if we can pull it together,” Gertzen explained.

The key reason for this is, while the volunteers may have been short, the Stampede Street Party has always been successful for local businesses, Gertzen said. Oftentimes, it’s their second or third busiest day of the year.

Gertzen observed that in recent years the activities surrounding the Williams Lake Stampede have been shrinking and she and the others wanted to preserve the street party which has been running since 1993. She feels that it gives families alternative activities to do in between rodeo performances while showcasing the best the downtown has to offer, hopefully promoting future tourism.

By virtue of being a community-run affair, Gertzen said they were able to open up the event to businesses and organizations outside of the downtown who wanted to be involved in the party. Farmers market vendors will be making an appearance at the event, as will the Lakers Car Club, indicative of “renewed enthusiasm,” Gertzen said with roughly 70 vendors from outdoors businesses scheduled.

As in previous years, the party will extend from Third Avenue down to Mackenzie Avenue, Second Avenue to Borland Street and from the corner of Third and First all the way to Yorston Street. Gertzen said that most of the vendors and businesses are the same as in previous years. Unlike previous years, they’ve tried to spread the vendors and entertainment out into the wings to encourage people to check out more than just Oliver Street.

Events including three hours of music will be organized for the event on the ‘rock the block’ stage by Arts on the Fly from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., the Williams Lake Stampeders will be signing autographs and playing ball hockey with children, the old tradition of the ‘Bull Throwing Contest’ will kick off at noon, and there will be a fun, Microfest Auto RC Race starting at 12:45 p.m. between Thunder Mountain Speedway drivers and the RCMP.

The Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre will be doing RC car demos following the race.

Certain participating businesses not in the downtown will be offering discounts that day if you have photographic evidence of yourself attending the Stampede Street Party.

“My greatest hope for this event is that it is equal to the great job the BIA has done in the past and I’m excited to see how the expanded model of businesses from outside the downtown core works,” Gertzen said. “I’m also very excited to see families and tourists downtown supporting our local businesses and vendors.”

For detailed information on the location of vendors and events, Gertzen encourages people to check out the event’s Facebook page the Williams Lake Stampede Party.

Read More: Stampede Street Party endorsed financially by city council

She’d like to thank Williams Lake City Councillors Craig Smith and Scott Nelson for their roles in securing funding for this event.

The opening ceremony will kick off the Street Part at 11:45 a.m. at Oliver Street and Second Avenue.

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