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By Sydney Goward on July 19 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!