One of the most important and loved events on the Quesnel calender is approaching at the speed of a calf darting out of a gate and into an arena.
The Quesnel Rodeo takes place July 19-21 and will see a huge influx of cowboys and cowgirls from across the province.
This year will see the return of the giant screen, which was so popular for replays last rodeo, as well as the arrival of professional saddle bronc riders, which will be a first for the 54-year-old rodeo.
Entries for the competition, which will see some of the top athletes from across North America do their best to hang on to bucking horses, should be completed this week so fans will know which riding stars will be coming to town.
“It’s going to be a huge addition to our performance,” says Quesnel Rodeo president Ray Jasper. “It’ll make our show better than ever.”
It is far from the only entertainment on offer, however.
The festivities will start on Thursday evening when barrel racers from Quesnel host a midnight run, which is a warm-up barrel race to break in the facilities before the big event.
On Friday afternoon, some slack performances will take place.
This will be for some of the competitors who do not make it into the weekend’s shows who want to compete.
Jasper says it will mainly be timed events like barrel racing and team roping, as they tend to have the most entries.
That night at 6:45 p.m., the first performance will begin, and Saturday and Sunday will see performances start at 1 p.m.
Saturday morning will also see a supplementary team roping event, where all the No. 8 teams, who might not be ready to compete against the top ropers will come out and have a bit of fun.
Jasper says the top five teams from that will be added into Sunday’s performance.
“Hopefully it’s some locals who get to perform in front of the big crowd on Sunday afternoon,” he says, “Quesnel has a big local team roping contingent, and it’s a big deal here, so this gives everybody somewhere to play.”
A couple of the events that are most looked forward to take place outside of the arena.
The annual Save-On-Foods steak dinner will take place on Saturday night at the gazebo.
“The steak dinner is something that’s become a hit,” says Jasper. “They usually feed about 300 to 400 people, and the proceeds go to Children’s Hospital, so that’s kind of cool.”
For those looking to burn off some calories from the feast or just kick up their heels, a big shindig will be held in the Agriplex that night.
“The barn dance has become a rite of passage for people in Quesnel,” says Jasper. “It holds about 1,000 people, and it’s pretty rustic. You’re just dancing in the dirt.”
This year, Kordaroy, a local band from the ?Esdilagh First Nation, will be playing the barn dance.
For those interested in attending the rodeo or the barn dance, tickets are available at Circle ‘S’ Western Wear or online at eventbrite.ca.
The event will be put on with the help of a small but highly capable group of volunteers, says Jasper.
About 20 to 25 people work throughout the year to organize everything, and another 40 join on the weekend to ensure everything runs smoothly.
“It’s a big deal,” says Jasper. “It takes a lot of people, and without the volunteers, this rodeo doesn’t happen.”
The event is a cultural mainstay for the community, with everyone from kids to senior citizens getting involved.
For the youngest attendees, Jasper says there is a big sandbox to play in and the always-popular calf scramble, and for the old-timers, there is a covered seniors viewing platform with special seats that is also wheelchair-accessible.
“The rodeo is not just a competition,” he points out. “It’s a meeting place for folks to come and socialize. You’ll see people you know from different towns and have a good old visit. People form all over the Cariboo come and meet friends they have known for 50 years, and that’s something we like to maintain.”