It was the decision everyone expected given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, but will still be disappointing news for many.
The Williams Lake Stampede Association directors announced, Thursday, April 9 that the annual Stampede will not be held.
“The Stampede Association holds the responsibility of putting on a world-class event with all reverence and seriousness, and the realities and unpredictability of the COVID-19 situation has presented substantial challenges in our planning, preparations, and logistics,” the board stated.
“Our deep respect for our broad Stampede family drives our decision: our sponsors and partners; our volunteers, spectators, and competitors – the WLSA wishes to shift the focus away from a large scale event that requires substantial fundraising, and take this time to move inward towards the work ahead for all of us to tend to the needs of our families and businesses.”
The board noted they wanted to ensure the integrity and safety of the event for all those who attend and do not wish to put any person or organization in jeopardy by gathering together at Stampede Park when they are unsure it is safe to do so.
The board has been planning the 94th annual Williams Lake Stampede since last year. And, if it was like Stampedes in years’ past, would have seen hundreds of rodeo competitors and thousands of fans come from across North American for the Canadian Pro Rodeo.
“We share in any disappointment you may have but, given the overpowering circumstances this virus presents to us, we are confident this is the best decision for the safety of our community,” said the board, noting they are committed to putting on a Stampede in 2021.
In the meantime, the Stampede board of directors “will be considering hosting a western style, community-minded event that supports the region rather than drawing from it – perhaps, in the fall.”
“We think it’s vital that we stay connected with you – our Stampede family – and we will do our best to keep you updated on the possible planning and offering of such an event. Stay safe, stay well, and stay home.”
All Stampede Association rental facilities are not available to the public due to COVID-19, including the campground, which instead as been opened only for frontline workers in health care who don’t want to expose their families to the virus, and are finding accommodations away from their homes.
“The Stampede Association Campground is closed and will remain closed until such a time that social distancing requirements have been lifted or loosened, so that we are in compliance with such recommendations.”