For Rock Creek cowgirl Michelle Van Baalen, the Williams Lake Stampede is a great place to meet old friends, make new ones and take part in the Wild Cowgirls Race.
Van Baalen and her boyfriend, Benjamin Booth, were down at the Stampede Grounds Wednesday evening settling in for a weekend of fun in Williams Lake by taking Booth’s horse and Van Baalen’s mule named Margaret out for an evening ride around the track.
Van Baalen signed up to compete for her third year in the Stampede’s Wild Cowgirls Race Saturday afternoon, but didn’t place this year.
She said she made so many good, lifelong friends from the Wild Cowgirls Race, that she wouldn’t miss it.
“I met some really cool people here,” said Van Baalen. “That’s why it’s worth the drive.”
Van Baalen raced Booth’s horse as a last minute replacement for her horse that was injured. She also brought along her Fjord mule Margaret who she purchased from a man at Lone Butte with some of her winnings last year.
Van Baalen ended up racing her mule in the mountain race after a spot came open, much to the delight of rodeo fans who cheered her on.
Van Baalen said after the rodeo she planned to stop by with Margaret in Lone Butte on her way home to visit the previous owner.