It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

Friday night at the Williams Lake Stampede

Figure 1. Friday night at the Williams Lake Stampede.

As the beginning of July approaches, the city of Williams Lake builds as almost indescribable atmosphere. Canada Day weekend in the city marks the annual Williams Lake Stampede, which is second in Canada only to the Calgary Stampede. This year the community celebrated 90 years of rodeo tradition and the city was abuzz with beautiful window murals, perfectly manicured gardens, decorations, and of course thousands of visitors in cowboy boots. There are always many community events organized for the long weekend, including multiple community breakfasts, street fairs, farmers markets, parades, petting zoos, and of course the Let R’ Buck Saloon, a local favourite for live music at the Stampede grounds. This event really brings the community together, and showcases all that people of the Cariboo have to offer. Hundreds of folks come out to volunteer and thousands of locals and visitors take in a variety of events. I personally have been volunteering at the stampede for 8 years, working with the cattle. I always enjoy meeting and working with the competitors, stock contractors, and other volunteers.

The view of our rodeo grounds, which are situated in the middle of town

Figure 2. The view of our rodeo grounds, which are situated in the middle of town

I hold this weekend close to my heart, coming from a rodeo back ground myself. I have been competing locally (British Columbia) in the events of breakaway roping, goat tying, pole bending, and barrel racing, and nationally (Arizona) in team roping since 2010.

West Fraser, as a leading company in Williams Lake, took on the role of sponsoring a Stampede Queen contestant this year. Being the Stampede Queen in Williams Lake is a pretty big deal; these women represent Williams Lake at community events and rodeos throughout BC and Alberta. For its first year being a sponsor, the company was represented by a fine young woman, Miss West Fraser Mills, Dana Rook. Although she didn’t take home the Queen title after the competition, she did walk away with winning several scholarships and an overall Poise, Personality, and Maturity award.

Another great way that West Fraser supported the Stampede this year was by entering the Annual Stampede Parade. The Stampede Parade is a great way to showcase your company and show support for the Stampede. Every year on the Saturday of Stampede weekend, a thousand or so people relax in the parks and along the streets of downtown Williams Lake to get a glimpse of the fun and creative floats. The amount of time, effort, and workmanship that went into our float was incredible to me! I had the pleasure of helping out with the parade float for two days at work, and I ended up being in the parade as well.

My co-worker, Angie, and myself took a little trip to Farwell Canyon to find some sagebrush to decorate our float. The theme of the parade was “90 years of stampede history” so we decided to do a rustic barn with an old west style.

Figure 3. My co-worker, Angie, and myself took a little trip to Farwell Canyon to find some sagebrush to decorate our float. The theme of the parade was “90 years of stampede history” so we decided to do a rustic barn with an old west style.


Credit: Gerda Knuff. Here is most of the crew that worked on the float. Our float included a beautiful barn built by the carpenter at the Sawmill, several props (horse, cowboy, chickens, fence, etc.) built by the plywood plant carpenter, and a live band (mainly West Fraser employees)

Figure 4. Credit: Gerda Knuff. Here is most of the crew that worked on the float. Our float included a beautiful barn built by the carpenter at the Sawmill, several props (horse, cowboy, chickens, fence, etc.) built by the plywood plant carpenter, and a live band (mainly West Fraser employees).


Credit: Gerda Knuff. Another angle of the float

Figure 5. Credit: Gerda Knuff. Another angle of the float.


Credit: Gerda Knuff. Here is the float rolling down the street in the parade! Notice the craftsmanship of the horse, cowboy, and barn!

Figure 6. Credit: Gerda Knuff. Here is the float rolling down the street in the parade! Notice the craftsmanship of the horse, cowboy, and barn!

The truck towing the float was filled with freezies, candy, and custom made balloons for employees volunteering to hand out to the parade watchers. We also had some volunteers walking alongside the float with tree planting bags, handing out Douglas Fir and Spruce seedlings, which was such a unique touch from the company.

The office fridge packed with seedlings, begin stored for the week before the parade. As funny as this may look, I don’t think the office staff was surprised to see something like this as the fridges and freezers are often full of collected beetles and plants

Figure 7. The office fridge packed with seedlings, begin stored for the week before the parade. As funny as this may look, I don’t think the office staff was surprised to see something like this as the fridges and freezers are often full of collected beetles and plants.


Most people in the office found time on the Thursday before the weekend to help out and wrap our seedlings. Just in this image you can see people from GIS, reception, admin, and summer students. This is one more example of how participating in stampede really brings people together in unexpected ways

Figure 8. Most people in the office found time on the Thursday before the weekend to help out and wrap our seedlings. Just in this image you can see people from GIS, reception, admin, and summer students. This is one more example of how participating in stampede really brings people together in unexpected ways.

We put a lot of effort into the little things on the float, including chaps, handmade from lumber wrap by myself and the office ladies for all our walkers in the parade to wear.

Mark Deny, a local saddle maker and leather worker (company: Cariboo Saddlery) provided us a cardboard pattern for us to trace on the lumber wrap. This shape was accurate and so easy to use!

Figure 9. Mark Deny, a local saddle maker and leather worker (company: Cariboo Saddlery) provided us a cardboard pattern for us to trace on the lumber wrap. This shape was accurate and so easy to use!


After tracing, cutting, leather lacing, and fringing the edges, the chaps were ready for their final (and my favourite) touch – rhinestones!

Figure 10. After tracing, cutting, leather lacing, and fringing the edges, the chaps were ready for their final (and my favourite) touch – rhinestones!

Now for the most exciting part of the whole experience for me! This year, I had the honour of leading the West Fraser float on horseback, carrying the West Fraser flag. I was so excited all week for this experience; it really drove my work ethic during the week, helping with the float planning and decorating.

Credit: Danny Lussier. Nahoni and I before the parade. I want to say a HUGE thank you to my generous Aunt, Mary, for lending me this handsome gentleman for the day. He sure impressed the crowds and my co-workers!

Figure 11. Credit: Danny Lussier. Nahoni and I before the parade. I want to say a HUGE thank you to my generous Aunt, Mary, for lending me this handsome gentleman for the day. He sure impressed the crowds and my co-workers!


Credit: Amy Hunt. The final shot! Everyone had such a great time and the community was very impressed how well it turned out.

Figure 12. Credit: Amy Hunt. The final shot! Everyone had such a great time and the community was very impressed how well it turned out.


Credit: Shelley Porter (for more awesome stampede images, check her out on Facebook!) Nahoni and I proudly showing off the West Fraser Flag during the parade. As you can tell, I was incredibly happy to be there!

Figure 13. Credit: Shelley Porter (for more awesome stampede images, check her out on Facebook!) Nahoni and I proudly showing off the West Fraser Flag during the parade. As you can tell, I was incredibly happy to be there!

I spent the whole weekend at the stampede grounds, volunteering and enjoying some live performances and music with friends and family. Here are a few shots of the action at the grounds!

The Wild West Riders are a group of horsewomen that carry the sponsorship flags of the Williams Lake Stampede during grand entry at the beginning of each rodeo performance for this stampede and many others in BC. This year, the group is suffering the sudden passing of two riders, one of whom was my biology teacher in high school. She inspired me to study natural resource science in university, and is my biggest inspiration moving forward in my career. I sure missed seeing her riding this year but I know she was around.

Figure 14. The Wild West Riders are a group of horsewomen that carry the sponsorship flags of the Williams Lake Stampede during grand entry at the beginning of each rodeo performance for this stampede and many others in BC. This year, the group is suffering the sudden passing of two riders, one of whom was my biology teacher in high school. She inspired me to study natural resource science in university, and is my biggest inspiration moving forward in my career. I sure missed seeing her riding this year but I know she was around.


Figure 15. I volunteer in the arena during the Bull Riding event (a fan favorite).


Global FMX freestyle dirt bike riders put on a couple shows throughout the weekend. This was an exciting event to keep the crowds entertained before/after the rodeo. Here, a stunt rider is going for a no-hands back flip!

Figure 16. Global FMX freestyle dirt bike riders put on a couple shows throughout the weekend. This was an exciting event to keep the crowds entertained before/after the rodeo. Here, a stunt rider is going for a no-hands back flip!


Williams Lake takes care to honour First Nations and did so this year by inviting hoop dancers and drummers to perform during intermission. This was such a treat to witness!

Figure 17. Williams Lake takes care to honour First Nations and did so this year by inviting hoop dancers and drummers to perform during intermission. This was such a treat to witness!


A Canada Day weekend spent right

Figure 18. A Canada Day weekend spent right.

This week I wanted to give you all a small taste of what this small town has to offer, and also some insight into the community’s leadership and hospitality. I highly recommend visiting the Williams Lake Stampede. My experiences here every year have always been wonderful, but this year was truly special. It was great to work with a company so involved in community support and spirit on top of my regular volunteering. Thank you West Fraser for valuing community and putting time and effort into Williams Lake’s biggest event of the year!

For more on Miss West Fraser Mills, Dana Rook, please visit a local newspaper article at http://www.wltribune.com/community/379073451.html

To catch the entire 2016 Stampede Parade, please visit ShawTV on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Hfh3TM53I8

All five rodeo performances can found on YouTube by searching “2016 Williams Lake Stampede”.

I hope you guys enjoyed this little community special. Now it’s back to business in the bush as usual!

Sydney

Une réponse à It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

  1. Darelle Odo dit :

    Hi Sydney,

    Thanks for the blog post on how much fun a small town can be! You really illustrated the ‘community’ feel that working for West Fraser in Williams Lake offers. Keep up the good work!

    Darelle Odo

    HR Coordinator with West Fraser

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