With work beginning Monday sorting stock for the 92nd annual Williams Lake Stampede, C+ Rodeos manager Roy Call is making sure all his ducks are in a row come Friday for the first of five rodeo performances this weekend.
And when fans pack the grandstand at the Stampede Grounds, Call says they’ll be in for a treat as some of the best cowboys Canada and the U.S. have to offer will be in action throughout the event, testing their skill and luck attempting to hang on for the whistle against his prized rough stock.
“We’ve got plenty of Canadian champions, plus some of the top guys in Canada, and there are some really good Americans [this year],” Call said.
When the action gets underway for Friday’s first rodeo performance at 12:45 p.m., call said Pincher Creek, Alta.’s Dustin Flundra is the man to watch in the saddle bronc riding event.
“He’s a former Canadian champion, but he’s been out for the better part of a year and just been back for a month,” he said. “I’d say that will be pretty outstanding. Either a big score or a big zero.”
Saturday in saddle bronc, circle Layton Green of Meeting Creek, Alta. on your day sheet.
“He’s on a horse of ours called Atticus. Last year he [Green] flat out ran away with everything in Canada. He won the Canadian title, and over $20,000, with a massive lead. Nobody even came close to him all year. He had a great run at the National Finals Rodeo and made some great money, and he’s top five in the world — the kid’s been super hot.”
Second generation cowboy Dawson Hay of Wildwood, Alta., at just 20 years old, should also draw the ire of rodeo fans.
“His dad was Rod Hay, multiple-time Canadian champion,” Call said of the young upstart. “He’s young, but he’s in the top five or six in Canada right now.”
Hay will be riding a horse of stock provider John Duff’s named Midget.
“That horse will be really good for Dawson. I wouldn’t be surprised if he scores well. It seems like he’s been getting a chunk every week.”
Monday, Call said Hudson Hope’s Ricky Warren will be on C+ Rodeos’ Bender.
“That’s a horse we’ve taken to Canadian finals the last two years,” Call said. “Ricky’s 21, 22 and just out of novice but he rides really well and he’s had a great start to the spring. He’s another top-10 guy or just outside it with a lot of upside and from a rodeo family. That could be the best ride on Monday.”
Bareback, meanwhile, is by far and away the best rodeo event in Canada currently, Call said, due to the current crop of talent dominating the event.
“I’ve been in it 35 years now, and it’s the best it’s ever been,” he said. “No different here this weekend. We’ve got a super good field of guys.”
Friday’s first performance will be chocked full of talented bareback riders.
Twenty-four-year-old Clint Laye of Cadogan, Alta. will be on a Duffy mare, Bootlace.
“He’s top five in Canada and probably going to have a chance to go to the National Finals Rodeo,” Call said.
“He’s been winning a fortune, but [Bootlace] is really tricky, so it should be interesting, and it’s a good match.”
Also in Friday, Regina, Sask.’s Ty Taypotat — currently leading the Canadian standings in bareback — will be in action.
“He’s won every time he’s put his hat in the ring,” Call said. “He’ll be on one of our horses, Sundance Kid, and that could be a really big score.
“But just the whole first day is really good.”
Kamloops’ Gavin DeRose, who will have plenty of family members cheering him on from the Williams Lake area, will be on Duffy’s Tweety Bird.
“He’ll have a nice horse that went to Canadian finals last year, but the competition is tough. Gavin’s been getting paid every week but he’s not getting the biggest cheques at the right places, but he’s got a chance to make some money.”
At Friday evening’s second rodeo performance, Bowden, Alta.’s Ky Marshall and Mills, Wyoming’s Kelly Timberman are two of the standouts.
“Ky has a horse called Blue Jeans, and she’s a mare they won this rodeo on two or three times. John [Duffy] hasn’t bucked her since last summer so she should be fresh, and Ky’s top five or six in Canada and that might be really good watching on the Friday night.”
At Sunday’s fourth performance, Airdrie, Alta.’s Jake Vold, Tremonton, Utah’s Kaleb Bennett and Richard Champion of Dublin, Texas, should put on a good show.
“Jake’s a former Canadian champion, and he was outstanding at the National Finals Rodeo last year,” Call said. “He’s been injured for a while but he’s back.
“Kaleb is currently No. 1 in the world, and just an outstanding bareback rider, and a really good guy. And Richard’s an interesting kid. He won he million dollar bonus at the All American Rodeo in Dallas two years ago as a high school kid. He’s just a young guy coming up but he’s going to be famous, famous. You’ll probably see him at the Canadian finals.”
At Monday’s fifth performance, Brownfield, Alta.’s Luke Creasy will be on C+ Rodeos’ The Graduate.
“That horse has been to Canadian finals the last three years, and the horse has been outstanding this spring. I bucked it twice in Grand Prairie and it was 86 points both times, and Luke is always top 20 in the world, so that’ll be a good way to end the Monday performance.”
As for the most dangerous eight seconds in sports, bull riding, Call said it’ll be interesting to see who can conquer what will be a strong field of rough stock in the event.
He points to Jacob Gardner of Dawson Creek, on Strike Zone, and Chris Hansen of Carolina, Alta., on Triple Crown, as two bull riders to watch Friday evening.
“Jake’s a young kid just out of high school and he’s having a super good spring so far,” Call said. “And Chris is an interesting one. He retired a couple years ago, he’s getting a little on in age now, but he was looking at the field and thinking the guys were a little soft so he’s come back and actually won the first rodeo he went to in Innisfail, and got a good chunk in Wainwright (Alta.) this past weekend. Triple Crown’s a little black spinner, and that’ll be fun.”
Saturday, Meeting Creek, Alta.’s Garrett Green, Cadogan, Alta.’s Lonnie West and Brock Radford of De Winton, Alta., are expected to put on a good show in the bull riding.
“All three of those guys could stay on and that should make for some goo bull riding on Saturday night,” Call said.
Sunday, Kamloops’ Jackson Scott, on C+ Rodeos’ Silver Surfer, will be in action.
“He broke his leg last year, missed most of the season, but he’s been coming on here the last few weeks.”
Then, veteran PBR champion Scott Schiffner, will be on John Duffy bull Piranha.
Monday, a local talent, Trevor Lulua of Hanceville, will be the man to cheer on.
“He’s on Elvis’s Shenanigans, and that’s an outstanding little bull he could win a little something on,” Call said.
Also featured at this year’s Stampede will be the novice bronc riding, for young riders aged 21 and under, and the ranch bronc riding, as part of the Ranch Challenge rodeo featuring local ranches and cowboys.
“This will be in addition to our normal rodeo program so the first couple performances is straight rodeo but Saturday will be the ranch broncs, so we’ll have an extra 11 broncs in the program Saturday, then another 10 novice bronc riders on the Sunday, Monday, to keep the program nice and full. It’s lots of work but makes for a damn good rodeo.”
As for the Stampede itself, Call said it’s always an event his family looks forward to.
“It’s always a great weekend and it’s fun to be at home,” he said.
“The rodeo’s turned into such a big festival it’s just a lot of fun. It’s nice for people who know us from other avenues in town to see what we do.”
Friday’s rodeos start at 12:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., with Saturday’s rodeo getting underway at 1:45 p.m.
Sunday, the rodeo kicks off at 12:45 p.m., before Monday’s fifth and final rodeo rounds out the weekend beginning at 12:45 p.m.