In the wake of what would have been the annual Billy Barker Days celebration, the Quesnel Rodeo Club is optimistic things should start trotting along again in the near future.
Ray Jasper, president of the Quesnel Rodeo Club — the organization responsible for hosting and organizing Billy Barkers Days — said while it was forced to cancel its rodeo school in April due to COVID-19, the group is now looking at hosting that event this coming September, instead.
“If things still look good we’ll aim for then,” Jasper said. “Just slowing starting to plan for September and try to do it as long as we can keep in that 50 person maximum range. We usually have 20 to 25 people coming to our schools in the spring, so I’d imagine it would fill up in pretty short order.”
The Quesnel Rodeo Club has been the driving force behind the beloved Billy Barker Days rodeo for the past 55 years, Jasper said, so they’re hoping to come back “bigger and badder” than ever next year.
“We have a good, solid foundation, and we have good, solid crew of people that are willing to kind of stick it out and, hopefully, as soon as it’s safe to do so whether that be next year, or in the future, we can gather a crowd safely — we’ll be back with bells on.”
The rodeo school, meanwhile, is the focus in the immediate future for the club.
And while the Little Britches Rodeo Association is hosting events — one coming up in Williams Lake Aug. 7-8 — Jasper explained the issue surrounding BC Rodeo Association and Canadian Pro Rodeo Association events is being able to put on a good show for the fans, and to provide payouts to competitors under COVID-19 guidelines.
“You need to put on a decent show, and pay for that show, and that’s where paid attendance and concessions and stuff like that comes into play,” he said.
“Rodeo’s going to be a long time, maybe, before we can gather people, but the Little Britches, high school rodeos, as long as we can figure out a way to do any competitor-driven events like timed events, barrel racing, team roping, where spectators aren’t a big deal then those things could probably flourish.”
He added the QRC is chomping at the bit to continue the tradition of Billy Barker Days once things get back to normal.
“It’s really, really important we be able to continue the tradition of what rodeo has brought for the last 100 years to people – just visiting and gathering — that’s what rodeo’s about,” Jasper said.
“It’s about the folks coming to town and being able to visit.”