Decades of western heritage will be on display and celebrated at the 80th annual Williams Lake Bull Show and Sale next week, April 12 and 13.
Since 1937, buyers and sellers have gathered in the lakecity to take part in the critical work of selecting quality bulls to build their herds.
Hereford bull consignor Neil Turner of Salmon Arm was just a boy when he first attended the Williams Lake Bull Show and Sale with his dad and has heard the stories of how cattle made the long journey to the sale back in 1945 told by his grandfather and father, Charles and Gordon Turner.
Neil said 72 years ago his grandfather Charles took 12 Hereford bulls from Salmon Arm by C.P. Rail car to Vancouver.
He unloaded the animals at Burns Feed Lot for 10 hours to water and feed them, then reloaded the bulls back on the rail car with another three bulls.
Neil said the box car was then loaded on a barge headed up Howe Sound and on to Squamish where they were unloaded from the barge and loaded on the PGE Rail heading to Williams Lake.
At the time, the Williams Lake Stockyards were situated along the rail tracks on Williams Lake where the animals came and went from the sale.
Gordon ate and slept with the bulls in the box car. Neil said the trip took about six days, and the 12 bulls sold for a total of $3,000.
Neil and his family are still an important part of the show and sale, with six of Neil’s Sunnybrae Farm Hereford bulls registered to be a part of the 80th show and sale next week.
While some things have remained the same, others have changed.
These days it typically only takes one afternoon or day for sellers to transport their prized bulls to market via truck and trailer. Another change has seen the Williams Lake Stockyards relocated from the shores of the lake to its current location on Cattle Drive on the north side of the city. The move paved the way for a much more modern facility with more acreage and easy access off Highway 97.
The first bull sale hosted at the new stockyards took place 19 years ago on Oct. 1, 1998.
The stockyards have also seen a shift in staffing this year, with longtime BC Stockyard secretary Pam Abrahamse making a career change and manager Wilf Smith easing into semi-retirement after 30 years.
“It’s been a big highlight in my life, that’s for sure,” Smith said of the show and sale.
“The best bulls in the world come to Williams Lake. It’s been one of the greatest events we’ve ever had.”
The two will both be on hand for the show and sale to work together once again, with Abrahamse taking on the role as the show and sale secretary and Smith as the show opener and auctioneer.
This year’s judge will be Mike Altwasser, manager of the Blue Goose Cattle Company.
In all, 158 Angus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Simmental, and Hereford bulls will be sold to the highest bidder.
Everyone is invited to attend the event, with the show getting underway Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Williams Lake Stockyards. The Williams Lake Bull Show and Sale will also be hosting its Buyers and Sellers Social starting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Williams Lake Curling Club.
On Thursday, the sale gets underway at 11 a.m.