The What’s On Cariboo Guide to the Williams Lake Stampede
The 91st annual Williams Lake Stampede is coming up fast (June 29th to July 2). What better way to spend the Canada Day long weekend than soaking up the traditions and atmosphere of ranch life that is emblematic of the Cariboo region. But, with so much going on at this annual rodeo, you don’t want to miss out on the most exciting events and activities. So, we’ve got some information and advice to help you make the most of your Stampede experience. Some of the Stampede performances such as the rodeo events happen every day, so you can choose the day you want to attend. Others are one-time only, so be sure to download the event schedule so you can plan your visit. Planning on bringing the kids? Remember that Friday is Family day and kids get in free after 12:45 when the second day of rodeo competition gets underway.
Start Your Day the Rodeo Way
You’ve got of plenty options for your morning meal during the Stampede, with the Rotary Club, Knights of Columbus, and Royal Canadian Legion all hosting breakfast events throughout the weekend (Friday through Sunday). Breakfasts start at 7am and ends at 11am, except for the Knights of Columbus who shut down at 11:30am. The Rotary Club breakfast is located at Lake City Ford (800 Broadway North), the Knights of Columbus are at Save-On Foods (730 Oliver St) and the Legion’s breakfast (indoor) is held at the Legion (385 Barnard St). You could try a different breakfast every day!
All the professional rodeo events that make the Williams Lake Stampede a much-loved piece of Cariboo history will be performed during the Stampede, from the heart-stopping action of bull-riding to the speed, skill, and athleticism of the barrel racers. Here are the times for the rodeo performances each day:
- Thursday – 6:45pm
- Friday – 12:45pm and 6:45pm
- Saturday – 1:45pm
- Sunday – 1:45pm
You can expect to see:
- Barrel Racing
- Bull Riding
- Bareback Riding
- Saddle Bronc
- Steer Wrestling
- Team Roping
- Tie Down Roping
- Mountain Race
- Wild Horse Race
- Ranch Challenge
- Ranch Bronc Riding
- Cow Milking
Mountain Race Excitement
Along with the bull riding, barrel racing, bareback, saddle bronc competitions and other rodeo events, there’s the Stampede’s famous mountain race, which sees competitors racing for prize money and points in a tradition that began in the earliest days of the Stampede, when cowboys raced down the side of Fox Mountain and into the Stampede Grounds. The present day race is a scaled-down version of the original, but it’s still a crowd favourite as the cowboys and their horses compete for the chance to be named Mountain Race Champion.
No Bridle, No Stirrups, No Problem
Imagine a horse responding to your every command, without having to use a bridle or stirrups. That’s called liberty training and veteran rodeo performer Niki Flundra will be demonstrating her liberty training expertise and connection to her horses during the intermission of each day’s rodeo events.
Niki Flundra on Youtube:
As with many rodeos, the Williams Lake Stampede has its origins with local cowboys eager to compete for the bragging rights of being the best at the real-world tasks and challenges they face every day working on ranches. The Stampede keeps that tradition alive with the Ranch Challenge. This event sees 10 teams from local ranches compete in events that showcase the specific skills and tasks required in their profession. If you’ve ever wondered just how a working ranch operates, this is a great glimpse into the jobs every cowboy needs to know how to do. The first events in the Ranch Challenge will be run during the second half of Saturday’s rodeo events (starting at 1:45). The second part is scheduled for Sunday at 10am.
Daybreak Rotary’s Stampede Parade
The annual parade begins at 10am on Saturday, in downtown Williams Lake.
Crowning of 2017 Stampede Queen
The Williams Lake Stampede offers young women the opportunity to showcase their horsemanship, public speaking, rodeo and Williams Lake knowledge, and overall personality, poise and maturity while competing for the titles of Williams Lake Stampede Queen and Williams Lake Stampede Princess. This year’s Stampede royalty will be crowned on Friday during the rodeo events 3rd performance, beginning at 6:45pm.
Animal Athlete Tour
Get up close and learn more about the animals that make the rodeo such an exciting event! Saturday and Sunday mornings at 9am behind the bucking chutes.
The Let R Buck Stage and Saloon host musicians throughout the Stampede with performances on the stage during the day, and the Saloon coming alive to the sounds of Garrett Gregory and Karen Lee Batten in the evenings from 9pm to 2am. There is no performance on Sunday evening, as the Saloon is handed over to the hard-working rodeo volunteers for an appreciation BBQ.
Chainsaw Carver Ryan Cook is another exciting performer that will be on hand. This accomplished power carver has been seen on television on Carver Kings and Saw Dogs and will be letting the chips fly as he shows off his sculpting talent.
Don’t forget to get your souvenirs. Stampede merchandise will be on sale at the Bronc Buster Trade Fair throughout the rodeo. Of course there will be t-shirts, posters, and postcards, but Stampede organizers are promising some exciting new items for 2017! The Trade Fair and Kids Karnival opens at 5pm on Thursday and 11am for the rest of the rodeo.
Don’t forget your hat, sunscreen, and water. The weekend forecast shows variable conditions for the weekend, so keep your umbrella or rain coat handy, but if the sunshine and heat continue, you’ll want to come prepared. The Stampede concession opens at 2pm on Thursday and at 7am Friday, Saturday, and Sunday if you are looking for food and drink options on the Stampede grounds. The Grandstand concessions open at 4:30pm on Thursday and at 11am Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Don’t forget to wear red on Saturday in support of Canada’s Armed Forces. On Sunday, put on your favourite pink clothing for the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign to promote breast cancer awareness.
Ticket Info and Getting There
You can find ticket pricing and purchase information on the Stampede website at:
The Williams Lake Stampede is held at the Stampede Grounds, right in the heart of Williams Lake just below the “Y” intersection of the Cariboo Highway #97 and the Chilcotin Highway #20. With a campground and R.V. park on site, and hotels and motels within walking distance you can enjoy all the rodeo activities and events without having to drive once you have arrived.
Stampede Grounds on Google Maps – https://goo.gl/maps/QausVbfpzT22