Mike Beers (left) from Post

Mike Beers (left) from Post

Williams Lake Stampede starts Thursday

The 85th annual Williams Lake Stampede starts today with the first performance rodeo at 6 p.m.

The 85th annual Williams Lake Stampede is underway with the second performance rodeo taking place at 6 p.m. tonight

Stampede Association president Fred Thomas is hoping for a great turnout this year.

Thomas says the Williams Lake Stampede had 12,500 visitors last year and the association is hoping for at least that many again this year.

“I’d just like everybody in the Cariboo to come and see and spend at least one day with us,” Thomas says.

“This is an historical event, 85 years in the Cariboo, and a lot of people have put lots of time into making it a success.”

With all of the work volunteers do to get ready for and operate the Stampede he says it is very rewarding to see the grandstand full.

“I’d like to see people come and enjoy the event and be part of our heritage.”

The Stampede promises a great four-day rodeo show with many locally raised cowboys and cowgirls competing with top contenders from across Canada and the U.S.

Thomas says 406 contestants are entered this year in the major events — bull riding, saddle bronc, bareback, tie down, team roping, steer wrestling, and ladies barrel racing.

“The total payout is estimated at $140,000 to $150,000 this year,” Thomas says. “We have increased our purse this year from $10,000 to $11,000 per event.”

If you count the local events such as the ranch challenge and mountain race, he says the payout to competitors will total somewhere around $175,000.

Thomas says the Williams Lake Stampede is a one-round rodeo which means each entrant competes one time during the four-day rodeo in each event they enter.

Some competitors specialize in one event while others compete in several events to go for the all-around title.

In addition to tonight’s rodeo performances, more action takes place at 1 p.m. July 2, and at 1 p.m. July 3.

Tickets to the rodeo and other Stampede events are available in the Stampede office behind the grandstand or call 250-398-8388.

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