It was roughly 40 years ago Tim Rolph watched his first Williams Lake Stampede and he’s been hooked ever since.
This year, he’s taken over the reigns from longtime Williams Lake Stampede Association president Fred Thomas as the new president of the association.
“It’s an association and an event which is something I strongly believe in, both from a personal standpoint and from the standpoint of a business owner in Williams Lake,” Rolph said.
“The whole town benefits.”
Rolph, who grew up in Ashcroft before moving to Williams Lake, has been involved with rodeo as a competitor and, later, as a judge for most of his life. Growing up living on ranches he’s also no stranger to cowboy culture.
He became a member of the BC Rodeo Association board of directors the year it was founded during the late 1980s and, prior to that, had helped out in various capacities with the Williams Lake Stampede.
Seven years ago he joined the WLSA as a member of the board of directors.
“I just want to keep it [the Stampede] growing,” Rolph said. “It really is a great event and Fred was there for a long time and did an awesome job of it.”
Entering its 90th anniversary year, Rolph said the WLSA isn’t looking to make any hard right turns on how the event is run.
“It’s one of the bigger pro rodeos in Canada and we want to keep it that way,” he said. “We have most of the top rodeo athletes in the world here and we want to continue to grow that part of it. We’re proud to be known as a traditional rodeo, still.”
On top of the rodeo, Rolph said the WLSA hopes to add more family-oriented events the community can participate in.
“Being our 90th year, it’s a big milestone for us,” he said. “We definitely have some things in the works. It’s becoming a heritage event in B.C. for longevity and uniqueness. We’re seeing more and more visitors and spectators from out of town.”
He said last year a family of nine from Wales attended the Stampede and added more and more European tourists are taking in the event.
“I think we’ve got a hidden gem here,” he said.
“Between the hospitality of the community and everything that goes on, it’s something to get excited for.”
The volunteer community, he added, are people who can’t be thanked enough.
“The support we get is really, really amazing and it wouldn’t happen without those people,” he said.
“So thank you to the people who come out to put in the hours.”