By Sean Brady, Kamloops This Week
Cowboys from all across the country — and some from the States, especially Texas — will gather in Kamloops this weekend to share music, poetry, food, equipment, art and more.
Mark McMillan is the president of the B.C. Cowboy Heritage Society, which hosts the event each year. He said the festival is all about promoting and preserving the Western cowboy ways.
“All of the entertainers are working cowboys, or at least know the life of the working cowboy. They’re telling their story in song, or rhyme as in the cowboy poet,” he said.
The entertainment runs throughout the festival, along with trade shows, art exhibits, equipment makers and vendors and more.
The festival will feature exhibitors like the B.C. Cowboy Heritage Society, the B.C. Rodeo Association, the historic town of Barkerville, Cariboo Saddlery, Farmhouse Collectibles, Kactus Western Wear, silversmith Richard Tenisch of Merritt and more than 20 others.
There’s also workshops of all types, including guitar, songwriting and poetry, available free with admission to the festival.
On Thursday, things will kick off at 11 a.m. with pre-festival entertainment for pass holders at the Horse Barn, 517 Mt. Paul Way, featuring the Gordie West Band. That evening, there will be a dinner dance on featuring the cowboy tunes of Tom Cole and band and food from Ronny’s Ribs and BBQ.
On Friday, doors open at 9 a.m. and entertainment at the Horse Barn continues until 2 p.m., with free shuttle service back and forth. At the convention centre, the trade show and art show runs from noon to 6 p.m. and the evening show starts at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Horse Barn entertainment continues 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., while the trade show doors open at 10 a.m. The trade show runs until 6 p.m. that day, while the art show runs 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
On the final day of the festival, Cowboy Church will be held in the ballroom starting at 10:30 a.m. while the trade and art shows continue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A weekend pass to the festival is $80 and includes everything except the dinner theatre. Day passes are $25 and evening and dinner passes are also available.
The festival, which will take place March 15 to March 18 at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre, is now in its 22nd year.
The event also features a raffle. Tickets are $10 and limited to 300 sold, with the first place prize winner taking home a solid silver custom commemorative Kamloops Cowboy Festival belt buckle valued at $750.
While there will be a lot going on all weekend, McMillan recommends paying close attention to the more than 30 entertainers who will take the stage at the festival.
“Sit and listen to the entertainment: the stories and the musical ability — the talent. It’s pretty incredible, actually. These are some of the best Western performers in North America,” he said.