The countdown is on to the 90th annual Williams Lake Stampede promising four days of rodeo action and fun beginning Thursday, June 30.
“I think the fact it’s the 90th is quite the milestone,” Stampede President Tim Rolph said Tuesday. “There are not many annual events anywhere in the province that are celebrating 90 years so we think that’s pretty important.”
Once again, the Stampede will feature top quality rodeo competitors from all over North America, this year numbering around 375, he added.
The rodeos take place Thursday at 6:45 p.m., Friday at 12:45 and 6:45 p.m., Saturday at 1:45 p.m. and Sunday at 12:45 p.m.
New this year is the addition of more family entertainment taking place up behind the grand stand in the trade fair area and on the Canadian Tire stage.
“We will have a number of local performers and we will have a kid zone, so we are encouraging people to come down earlier than their family normally would and enjoy these things before the rodeo,” Rolph said. “It’s all free.”
Thursday evening’s rodeo will see the Stampede Queens exchange crowns and people will have the opportunity to see the new Queen Cheyenne Shoults.
Friday is family day at the rodeo, with free admission for children under 12 when accompanied by an adult for the afternoon rodeo.
“After the rodeo is over, we’re having a young guns rodeo in the arena so children can come and meet some of the cowboys and the Stampede Queen,” Rolph said of Friday afternoon’s rodeo. “We will have stick horse races so the kids can get down in the dirt and play around.”
Friday evening people are asked to wear red because the rodeo will salute the military and recognize local military families.
At Saturday’s rodeo, life-time members, 2016 BC Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees, and parade marshals will be recognized.
Sunday is Tough Enough to Wear Pink, with some of the money from ticket sales going toward Cancer research.
“On Saturday and Sunday we’ve got Alex Wells, a Native hoop dancer who has won competitions all over North America,” Rolph said. “He calls himself Native Thunder Productions.”
During the Friday, Saturday and Sunday rodeos Global FMX Professional Freestyle Motocross will share their high-adrenalin action.
Carver Kings’s Ryan Cook will be in the trade fair area doing carving demonstrations as well.
Alan Moberg, who wrote the original Williams Lake Stampede song, will perform Saturday on the Canadian Tire stage before the rodeo.
“It’s cool that he’s coming back for that,” Rolph said of Moberg participating.
Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon will attend the rodeo on Thursday and Friday. Conservative MP Todd Doherty will attend.
“If anyone hasn’t seen Todd’s YouTube clip in the House of Commons, laying praise on the Williams Lake Stampede, you should check that out,” Rolph said.
Encouraging people to get out and enjoy the Stampede parade Saturday and the various pancake breakfasts at the Stampede Grounds and around town, Rolph is also excited about new structures at the grounds — a log covered area built by Durfeld Log and Timber in the in field and the new entranceway built by Pioneer Log Homes of B.C. in co-operation with the City and the Stampede Association, as well as the new red metal rail fencing that has been installed to replace the chain link fencing put in the 70s.
“We have some new entertainment in the Let R Buck Saloon,” Rolph added.
“The Chris Buck Band are up and coming and on the radio and will be a big deal in a year or two. Karen Lee Batten, also performing, just won the B.C. Female Country Artist of the Year.”
They will perform after the rodeo every night and will also do some acoustic sets before the rodeos.