Patti Gerhardi at the Williams Lake Stampede Royalty Coronation held Saturday, June 26. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Patti Gerhardi at the Williams Lake Stampede Royalty Coronation held Saturday, June 26. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

OUR HOMETOWN: Passion for rodeo

Patti Gerhardi continues to dedicate lots of time to the rodeo world

Rodeo and the name Patti Gerhardi flow together easily in conversations across B.C.’s Central Interior and afar.

For the past four decades Gerhardi has dedicated copious amounts of time to the sport.

She started out with the Chilcotin Rodeo Association (CRA), then moved on to the British Columbia Rodeo Association (BCRA) and the Williams Lake Stampede Association (WLSA).

Born in Kimberley, B.C. as Patrictia Buscumb, herfamily moved several times in the first few years of her life because her father worked in oil exploration in Alberta.

“My mom used to say she lived in 18 places and had two children in three years,” Gerhardi recalled.

Eventually she and her brother moved to Creston with their mom where Gerhardi stayed until she graduated from high

school.

“Creston is close to the U.S. border and we liked to say we had the best of both worlds because we were Canadians but had the benefit of living in an American world. We could go shopping in Bonners Ferry and Spokane. You could buy dresses for a dollar in those days.”

Her late husband, Ted Gerhardi, was a ranching and logging man in Fraser Lake, who was killed when their sons Tim and

Jim were very young.

After Ted’s death she moved the family to Williams Lake where she knew three people — one woman who worked at the Overlander Hotel and a couple of cowboys she’d known for years.

“When my husband died the fellas he worked with gave me a day’s wages and they were logging truck drivers. It was $5,000 and in 1981 that was a good deal of money. I had no bills because everything had been paid off when my husband died,” she said.

It was through friends she became involved with the CRA as a secretary and timer and eventually a board member.

“I was then working for the BCRA as a timer, and then a secretary, and I still do that today. I have also been on the BCRA

board several times.”

There have been intervals when she has moved away from Williams Lake for work and it was during the last time she returned that WLSA board member Court Smith asked her to come on the board.

At that time, Amanda Fuller, who was looking after the Royalty Program, had a baby and needed someone to replace her.

“I knew the value of the program and success of so many of the ladies who had gone through it and didn’t want it to die so rather than doing a rodeo job I ended up taking on the Royalty Program,” Gerhardi said. “I am now blessed to have Chantelle Wessels as the Royalty Director.”

This year Gerhardi worked with Wessels, a former Stampede Princess herself, on the 2021 Stampede Royalty Program, which culminated with the coronation on Saturday, June 26.

Read more: Karena Sokolan crowned 2021 Williams Lake Stampede Queen

“Chantelle is extremely organized and will be able to run it all,” she added. “We have had our socks rocked with the generosity of the community and people wanting to be involved.”

Aside from rodeo, Gerhardi also owns businesses.

Through her company PMG Communication, she has been hired as a contractor several times by the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA).

“I have a really cool job with them right now. I am a tourism advisor with the tourism resiliency program. I work with tourism businesses

and right now we are trying to keep them in business,” she said, noting the CCCTA program helps find available grants and loans.

Through the job she hears sad and heartbreaking stories from people who have worked decades on their business and are unsure if they will be able to continue.

Praising the staff of the CCCTA as tremendously competent, she saidshe is very impressed by the skill set.

“They are all compassionate, which brings a whole new level to that kind of work.”

She’s also busy writing grants for other organizations, including rodeo associations and boards, and periodically is hired as a project manager to put on events in B.C. and Alberta.

Her other company is Rocking “P” Western Apparel.

Today Tim lives in Cochrane, Alta. where Gerhardi stays if she’s working in Alberta, and Jim and his family live in 150 Mile House.

A proud grandmother, she said she is ‘blessed,’ with four grandchildren whose talents range in academics, music and hockey.

Some Thursday evenings she can be found at the Legion volunteering as cashier for pasta nights.

“I get to work with a lovely crew of about five people who are justoutstanding,” she added. “It’s like everything else in Williams Lake. You go two or three times and you make friends.”

READ MORE: Spotlight on Business 2020: Williams Lake Stampede Association

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