The 86th annual Williams Lake Stampede officially starts tomorrow, June 29 with two breakfasts, the Rotary Club pancake breakfast (back lot of Lake City Ford) and the Stampede breakfast (rodeo grounds — infield concession) at 7 a.m.
Afterward you can watch the rodeo slack (a huge slate of contestants/too many to fit into regular rodeo performances) featuring some of the world’s best cowboys and cowgirls (Canada/U.S.) who will be competing in barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie-down roping and team roping (9 a.m. — Stampede arena).
The Ranch Challenge event begins at 3 p.m.
The rodeo, with all that it entails, is now an 86-year-old Cariboo tradition that signifies (historically) a welcome break from the hard work of daily ranch life for local cattlemen/women, a few days of fun and competition.
Local First Nations people love the rodeo also, both as competitors and spectators, travelling in from far-flung places.
The trek used to be made via horseback or in wagons; now motor vehicles are the mode of travel.
Often for all the rural visitors, Stampede was the most anticipated event of the year, marking their only visit to town annually — it was a never-to-be-missed event for many, a tradition still observed by some folks to this day.
Right now, on many local ranches the upcoming Stampede is serving as a great production motivator with ranch hands working hard in what I call the hurry-up-and-let’s-get-it-done-before-Stampede mode!
We’re making silage; the crew is putting in voluntary hours after dinner to get it all in (the bags) before Friday.
On a neighboring outfit, the crew is hustling to get the last batch of calves branded (turned back on range) so as to free themselves up to compete in the Stampede Ranch Challenge events.
Yep, they really do want to get to town! Yippeee — let’s rodeo!
Liz Twan is a local rancher and freelance columnist for the Tribune.