It was another night of excitement, fun and community spirit Saturday as rodeo fans came out to show their support for the 94th annual Williams Stampede.
The Williams Lake Stampede Dinner, Dance and Auction is held every year to raise funds for the Williams Lake Stampede and to kick off preparations for the ‘greatest show on dirt’ coming up this summer from Thursday, June 25 to Monday, June 29.
In addition to a quality meal, those in attendance got to take part in live and silent auctions on everything from plane tickets to Stampede memorabilia and enjoy a live performance by One in the Chamber.
The WLSA’s current president, Court Smith, said that he was happy by the night’s turnout of around 200 people and the show of support from everyone in attendance. Smith said it’s a wonderful event the community gets behind the same way they do with the Stampede in the summer.
Smith, who stepped into the presidency in the fall of 2019, said he’s been enjoying running the WLSA thus far. He was previously vice-president under Tim Rolph and has sat on quite a few Stampede executive boards over the years.
“This is a very, very good board (of directors), I’d say probably one of the best boards I’ve been on. We all pitch in and work hard to make this event what it is,” Smith said.
The night is the prime fundraising event for the WLSA, Smith said and is usually quite a successful one thanks to their auctions which typically raises anywhere between $15,000 to $20,000.
This year Smith said the Stampede will be serving up another four days of quality rodeo entertainment once more. New this year, which Smith said they’re very excited for, is the All Nations Powwow that is happening on the same weekend which he said they’re working to coordinate with. The Mountain Race will also be returning this year as will many of the other Stampede mainstay events with cowboys and cowgirls from across Canada competing in them.
After the four days of pro-rodeo, there will once more be a fifth day of rodeo as the Ranch Rodeo and Stampede Heritage Gathering, first debuted last year, will be making a return once more. Smith said it’s a really special event for the lakecity community as it has more of a local rodeo spirit.
“It’s just a fabulous weekend for our city and I’m always amazed by the turnout for contestants and the spectators from the town that support us,” Smith said.
Smith wants to thank the volunteers and sponsors who support the event each year as without them they would be unable to do it and encourages everyone to come on out to the Famous Williams Lake Stampede this year.
It was later revealed that the kickoff concert at the Let’R’Buck Saloon will once more be taking place this year on Thursday, Jan. 25 and will be headlined by the band Doc Walker, something the WLSA is very excited to be organizing.
Before the auction began, the winner of the Williams Lake Stampede poster contest was revealed to be local artist Amy Piquette with an acrylic painting of a barrel racer. Piquette is a recent arrival in Williams Lake, who moved here two years ago and said she was thrilled to have won the contest.
The painting, she said, was made to celebrate her cousin Brooke Wills, the 2019 Canadian Barrel Racing Champion, as a way to incorporate both sides of their family.
Piquette took part in the contest last year and did so again this year because she felt she had a good rodeo story to go with a strong painting.
“I was texting Brooke back and forth and she said on her first win of the Canadian Barrel Racing Championship she was wearing that exact outfit and using that exact horse so I was asking her the specifics of how she wanted to look in the painting,” Piquette said.
Putting a brush to the canvas itself probably took about four to six hours but that a lot of emotion, thought and family history was put into it as well, she said.
“I think 2020 is a big year and I think it will be a huge Stampede and I am so excited our family is incorporated into that,” Piquette said.
If anyone wishes to look into her art further Piquette said you can check out her Facebook page ‘Art by Amy Piquette.’