You can bet your boots rodeo fans will be singing praises to the rodeo gods when the 87th annual Williams Lake Stampede rides into town with not just four, but five, performances this weekend.
Fred Thomas, president of the Williams Lake Stampede Association, said this year’s rodeo will feature around 400 contestants battling for $160,000 in prize money spread over five rodeo performances, some of who are the best in the world.
He said the decision to add an extra rodeo performance on Friday morning to the Stampede will give spectators another opportunity to see some of the top cowboys and cowgirls compete.
“Instead of having another performance what we’ve had is what they call in the rodeo trade, slack, where people compete but they don’t compete in front of a paid audience,” Thomas said.
“So what we did was eliminated the slack. It’s good for some of the rough stock cowboys, too, because it gives them another opportunity to compete at a time when it allows them to get to other rodeos.”
Thomas said this year’s talent pool is also one of the deepest he’s seen in years.
On Friday the reigning world all-around champion and seven-time world all-around champion, Trevor Brazile of Texas, will be competing in tie-down roping, team roping and possibly steer wrestling.
Additionally, Chilliwack native Lee Graves, the 2005 Steer Wrestling World Champion and five-time Canadian steer wrestling champion, is back healthy this season and will be competing in tie-down roping, team roping and steer wrestling.
“There’s a lot of good contestants here this year,” he said. “I took a look at the contestant list the other day and in the top 20 of the world standings right now we probably have seven to 10 of those contestants coming here to Williams Lake. A lot of them are Americans.”
A new rodeo clown, Brian Potter, will also make his debut at this year’s Stampede. Potter is from Newville, Alabama, and the Stampede will be his first working trip anywhere in Canada.
Potter will be joined by 20-year rodeo announcing veteran, Alberta’s Tyson Pietsch.
Rodeo performances go twice on Friday — the first at 11:45 a.m. followed by the second at 5:45 p.m. Friday’s evening performance will also feature the exchange of the Williams Lake Stampede Queen and Princess crowns.
On Saturday the third rodeo gets underway at 12:45 p.m.
Sunday’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink rodeo goes, again, at 12:45 p.m., before Monday’s fifth rodeo at 1 p.m. concludes the weekend’s festivities.
Tickets to the Stampede are available at the Stampede Office behind the grandstand at the Stampede Grounds.
For a complete schedule of events visit www.williamslakestampede.com.