It was amazing.
That is how Williams Lake Outdoor Rodeo president Kelly Walls described the recent rodeo held Aug. 13 and 14 at the Stampede Grounds.
“Everybody was happy. The contestants were thrilled. We had the biggest number of entries of all the BCRA [British Columbia Rodeo Association] rodeos so far.”
Attendance was around 400 on Saturday and 600 on Sunday, which Walls said was very disappointing, but she wanted to thank everyone who did attend.
“It is what it is and we just have to get past it.”
This was the first year the rodeo was held outside. Normally the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo takes place at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex in April.
Walls said it is up in the air as to whether it will go back inside or stay outside next year.
“We haven’t really decided what is going to happen. There are people who love it indoors and I love both. Honestly, it will come down to the financial part.”
To hold the indoor rodeo the cost is about $150,000 and last weekend’s rodeo at the Stampede Grounds the cost was almost $100,000.
“When we don’t get the spectators to help offset that it puts a financial burden on whether or not there will be a rodeo next year – not that I want to see it die or anything.”
As she helped clean up at the grounds Monday, Walls said she was “quite disheartened emotionally,” about the lower attendance because all the hard work put in by the directors equalled more than 500 hours, plus what hours were put in by other volunteers.
“All our volunteers step up to the plate and do what is asked. I want to give a big shout out to the paramedics and nurses that volunteered for first aid at the very last minute when we lost our first aid. There is just such amazing support from our community that way.”
Central Cariboo Search and Rescue (CCSAR) signed up to run the parking at the last minute, receiving half of the parking money collected.
“CCSAR were so happy to do it and would love to come back again and said any way we need help they are happy to help us out.”
Williams Lake Community Policing was on site to help, while Cynergy Security Group from Vancouver did the security.