Quesnel’s Billy Barker Days are riding high again

David Enderud was not a competitor in Quesnel's Billy Barker Days ring, he was riding in the rodeo of life. This flamboyant exhibition ride was his final go-round as a single gent, with impending nuptials the next big event on his card. (Karen Powell photo)
Ethan Smith, 11 years old, gave one of the hit performances on the Friendship Stage in LeBourdais Park during Billy Barker Days. (Karen Powell photo)
Brandt, 2, steers the ship with Brooke, 5, and Jenna, 3, navigating in the rear seats as the Billy Barker Days midway whooped up the summer spirit at LeBourdais Park. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

It’s good to be back.

That was the feeling among Billy Barker Day organizers, even when exhausted at the end and having to clean up. It was also the feeling from the public.

Yes, the smoke, forest fires played a role in keeping some people away, and dulling the edge of enjoyment just a little.

Yes, the pandemic hangover and the demographic downturn, those effects are real and played a part in fewer people helping out, and those who stepped forward having to work harder at starting up a stalled factory of fun.

But it’s all rolling now. Society president Barry McKillican, who first volunteered in 1983, said the epic struggle was a breakthrough. One of northern B.C.’s premier summer attractions was alive and well once again.

“The festival was going to fold, this year,” he said, based on the organization’s state of volunteerism in late 2022. But the call went out, a small army was assembled (a larger one is still needed), and the show went on. “Fantastic. I was totally happy with everything I saw.”

During the parade – which was light on floats, but still substantial; light on audience but still substantial compared to past years – he felt a pride and public acceptance that good time was going on, and they were all part of it.

“Every person I smiled at and waved, and said ‘Happy Billy Barker Days,’ they smiled and waved back, and I mean everyone,” he said. “I super liked that. Quesnel was backing their event.”

And now that it’s flowing, it’s only going to get better. If you want to join the team putting on the next one, they would love to have the new blood and fresh ideas. The planning for 2024 is already underway. Email office@billybarkerdays.ca and find out how you might be a great fit to help out.

READ MORE: PHOTO GALLERY: Billy Barker Days Parade captivated Quesnel

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