Special to the Tribune/Weekend Advisor
Omak, Washington is a small town of 4,815 residents that does rodeo in a big way! This year they had 35 visiting royalty, five of which were from Canada.
The four towns included Taber, Rimbey, Okotoks, Airdrie, Alberta, and of course, Williams Lake.
We were truly treated like royalty thanks to the generosity of John D.
He is a local business man who prefers to remain in the background and offer his support in order to provide this opportunity for so many royalty to attend, and enjoy the experience.
We had four fun-filled days of steady activities.
The royalty spent an afternoon at Apple Springs Senior Centre and visited each local sponsor’s business for autographs and shopping sessions.
We were invited to the Rotary luncheon at city hall, participated in a radio interview at the Stampede grounds as well as helped with the Wrangler Kids night, where eight lucky children won new bicycles.
Each rodeo performance started with grand entry of all royalty, sponsors, flags, Omak Queen and Miss Rodeo Washington.
Intermission was performed by the National Guard and Slim Garner the professional rodeo clown from Kansas.
Their stampede grounds were filled with a fair full of rides and food vendors, a large First Nations encampment with many teepees, two round frames for aboriginal games and show performances, many craft talents, camping stalls and the rodeo arena, all of which sits kitty corner to their World Famous Suicide Race Hill.
This race is an absolute must see! Twenty qualifying horses and riders line up on the opposite side of the Okanogan River.
The gunshot sounds off and they charge ahead 40 yards towards the 277 foot embankment (almost 100 per cent vertical). Some horses look like they are almost flying.
Once they reach the bottom, each team swims across the river, up a dirt road and charge into the arena amongst excited fans. What an adrenaline rush!!
Aaron Carden, who is associated with the Colville Tribes and is the Suicide Race’s president, told me to extend an invitation to all of our mountain race competitors to come and join them in next year’s race.
I would like to thank Jeff Demmitt and his family for organizing the royalty, John Devaney for his incredible support, Omak Queen Tiffany Mannikko for sharing her weekend with us, and the City of Omak for welcoming us with open arms.
Thank you to Jamie Tanis for her hours of driving to get me to the rodeo and Laura Ball for chaperoning me on another memorable journey.
Every effort was made to promote our Famous Williams Lake Stampede and invitations were given to our “Southern Neighbours” to come visit us and give us the opportunity to return the hospitality!
Looking forward to Merritt then back to Washington for the Spokane Interstate Rodeo
Yours in Rodeo,
Williams Lake Stampede Queen Michelle Ball.