Williams Lake has a long standing tradition of rodeo in the spring. In 2023 you will see that tradition return after a three year hiatus due to covid restrictions. The inaugural “Indoor Spring Classic” rodeo will debut Friday April 14th and continue with rodeo performances Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Like so many organizations the long time committee that produced the rodeo in the past was decimated by the long break related to the event lock down for covid. In order to resume the production of top end rodeo action a new group had to be formed from scratch.
Williams Lake has the advantage of having an extensive pool of qualified rodeo people inside the arena and out. What was needed was a new drive to unite the community and bring the biggest event of the spring back to what it can be. Long time friends Roy Call and Richard Kohlen had been keeping an eye on the status of the event. When they learned the event was not able to proceed as it was structured, they immediately decided to step up and find a way to bring the rodeo back to the Cariboo Memorial complex in 2023.
Richard, a well-known and long time business man in Williams Lake was the president of the indoor rodeo in the formative years of the event and has continued to support the event every year. Roy is a well known stock contractor in the rodeo business and his local 150 Mile House family has been involved with every indoor rodeo in Williams Lake. The pair was quick to search out others with previous involvement with rodeo and in only a few days were able to recruit some well known rodeo organizers. Lori Winters, a former vice-president of the indoor rodeo club was added to the new associations board right away, and long time Williams Lake Stampede president Tim Rolph agreed to join the list of volunteers. Many other people have already been added to the group. The interest in being part of something fun has made recruiting relatively easy.
The hook for these new additions was a promise that the rodeo would return to a fun place to be for all segments of the industry. A rodeo in an indoor venue requires about 40% more labor than a standard outdoor event due to the hockey surface needing to be transitioned to a rodeo surface. Myles King was one of the first calls the new group made. Myles King the owner of M.H. King excavating in Williams Lake is a long time rodeo competitor who has helped in the past with the changeover of the venue. His commitment to having safe and fast ground conditions for all the events will ensure top performances in all the rodeo disciplines. In addition to great ground, contestants and spectators will see $75,000 worth of new rodeo arena equipment. New bucking chutes, gates and panels will spruce up the interior of the complex and provide safe and effective facilities for contestants and animals alike.
The long break of the spring rodeo has given the new group a chance to re-evaluate the rodeo itself. The slate is more or less blank for the April event and every type of event was considered before a format was determined.
When the indoor rodeos moved to the complex thirty years ago, the initial group focused on not just the rodeo but also the production of a community event, the goal being entertaining spectators and sponsors and giving the contestants a great venue to compete. The idea of entertainment as a primary goal will be emphasized by the new event. The 2023 version will be bigger and better for everyone with new personnel and for the first time, a replay board in the building. Over the years the introduction of big screens to rodeo has proven to be a “no brainer”. Rodeo is a sport that replay is particularly well adapted to and being able to see great rides and runs replayed is huge for the crowds’ enjoyment. The boards have also become integral to opening ceremonies and special presentations. They have also afforded great potential for sponsors of the event to be recognized and show their products.
After a long run with the former rodeo announcer and clown, there will be two new faces to the indoor event this spring. Tyson Pietsch long time rodeo announcer from Buck Lake, Alberta will be the announcer, and Jason Charters will be rodeo clown and barrel man. Tyson has been the long time voice of the Williams Lake Stampede and his familiarity with the community as well as his commitment to having fun with the show made him a natural for the future of the event. Jason has been a long time comedian in the province and in the past few years his schedule has seen him at many of the biggest and best events in the province.
The rodeo itself will also see major changes. After seeing the Quesnel Rodeo Club experiment with a rodeo without a traditional sanctioning body for the past two Billy Barkers days rodeo events, the Indoor Spring Classic will be turning in that direction. The emphasis on production for the resumption of rodeo in the spring is a major reason for the change. The host committee in this case has a very clear vision of what the rodeo should look like. The ability to control the program from the grand entry to the walk-out music is a huge attraction for the committee. Fans and sponsors alike can expect a fast, smooth production running in the 2 hours and 30 minute range. All 150 minutes will be full of the best contestants and livestock in the province and the event will rival all B.C.’s best rodeo events.
The contestants also will be in for bigger and better. The rodeo will be returning with a substantial increase to the prize money. The rodeo will feature all the major events (eight, including ladies breakaway roping) with a purse of $2,500 per event. The generosity of popular local team roper Carey Price has provided equal money for the team roping for each side so $5,000 total.
In an effort to provide the best entertainment for the spectators this springs rodeo will feature a top-ten contestant finals for the Sunday afternoon. The participants of the first two perfs will not be assigned by a random draw as in the past formats. The new format will allow the host committee to ensure the top contestants entered will be in front of a crowd and not slotted for a slack where the performances are seen by fewer paying customers. The ground rules will be posted on this site with entry information and dates.
No Indoor Spring Classic rodeo would be complete without a “barn dance”! Rest assured this years event will bring the hugely popular event back. The performers will be announced in the weeks to come. All the fun of the beer stand and the rodeo dance will be back.
Finally, … where and how do you get tickets to see this event? The one thing we all saw in 2022 was the returning events return had massive crowds and huge success. This event will be an almost guaranteed sell-out. Tickets will be available soon and we highly recommend getting yours early; the demand to get out and have some fun is very high. Stay posted to this site for new content and for dates of ticket availability.