As Williams Lake readies itself for the 93rd annual Williams Lake Stampede, Lorne Doerkson and the other volunteers of the Let’R’Buck Saloon are preparing five days of non-stop entertainment.
The Let’R’Buck Saloon has a long tradition at the Stampede as the venue to be for live music, fellowship, dancing and good beer after the rodeo each night. Hundreds of lakecity locals and visitors will crowd into the fenced off area by the stage for a chance to hear musical acts from near and far.
For the last few years, Doerkson, who was recognized as the 2019 Volunteer of the Year by the Williams Lake Stampede Association, has been in charge of organizing and running the saloon synonymous with the Stampede. He said he volunteers every year due to his love for rodeo, volunteering in general and of course the Let’R’Buck Saloon.
“It’s a great meeting place for our community and it’s getting bigger and better every year,” Doerkson said.
The saloon operates every day of the Stampede, which starts on Thursday, June 27 this year, serving cold drinks from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. in the morning.
Headlining the entertainment this year Thursday night is Aaron Pritchett, a successful Vancouver-based country artist making waves in the music scene currently with his latest studio album Out On The Town and a national tour this year. Doerkson said they “lucked into” getting him for the Stampede this year and added that you can’t pay less than the $20 they’re charging to see this musical star.
Doerkson said there are not a lot of tickets left for this opener and that those hoping to get them at the door should not take that chance and should instead buy them in advance as soon as possible.
Performing every night will be Karen Lee Batten, the female vocalist of the year for B.C., whose band of the same name will be performing onstage with Pritchett. Batten was a top 10 Canadian Idol Finalist who went on to launch her own independent career, which has since led to her co-hosting the B.C. Country Music Awards in 2017 and 2018.
Returning to the Let’R’Buck’s stage this year is the bluegrass-country-rock inspired band the Rollin’ Trainwreck, who Doerkson said is just amazing. Their toe-tapping familiar sound is bound to be a crowd pleaser, in his opinion.
Joining Pritchett as a first-time performer is Dave Hartney, another rising star in Canadian country music scene from North Vancouver, who has spent the last few summers playing large country music festivals across the province. While Doerkson hasn’t seen him perform in person, he’s listened to his music online and think he’ll be a real crowd pleaser.
Rounding out the lineup is a wide array of local talent including the likes of One in the Chamber, the Markabillies, Rosetta Paxton and many more performing both in the evening and throughout the day. On Monday for the Cariboo Heritage Gathering Doerkson said local talent will be showcased exclusively all day on the Let’R’Buck Stage.
Next, to Pritchett’s performance on Thursday, admission fee to the saloon each day is still $5 to help pay for insurance, security and the performers.
“The beer, I promise, will be icy cold and I also promise it will be the most affordable beer around. Five bucks to get in and five bucks a drink,” Doerkson said.
“This is probably B.C.’s, certainly Northern B.C.’s, largest professional sporting event of the year. It’s really a showcase of our heritage, an opportunity to really showcase our city so if you’re thinking of going fishing or leaving town for the weekend I’d like to encourage people to volunteer, come to the show but don’t go out of town,” Doerkson said. “We’ve had record crowds at the Stampede, saloon and downtown there’s something to do for everybody.”
Well over 15,000 people buy tickets for the rodeo every year and Doerkson encourages the whole community to join them in attending it. Tickets are on sale now at the Stampede’s office, behind the grandstands, and at the ticket office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from now until Stampede.