Greg Sabatino photoExploring the Puddle preschool class students Claira Vandergugten (from left), 4, Vernon Dean, 4, and Declan Stalker, 4, watch intently as M.H. King Excavating Ltd. hauls in the dirt, working to transform the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex into a rodeo arena for this weekend’s Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo.

Stage is set for 29th annual Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo

"It's going to be a full house Sunday as far as I can see."

The Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex will be transformed into a rodeo arena this weekend for the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo.

The official kick off to the BC Rodeo Association Season, rodeo fans will be lining up to pack the seating area inside the complex for this year’s 29th annual mainstay.

The rodeo, itself, will feature three action-packed days of BCRA action and local entertainment, running from Friday, April 26 to Sunday, April 28.

“We’re excited to get underway,” said Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo vice-president Shaun Oxtoby. “It’s always a blast.”

Back again this year is the always popular rodeo clown, Dennis Halstead, while Sylvan Lake, Alta.’s Brett Gardiner will be joining him to call the action inside the arena throughout the weekend.

Oxtoby said it’s fun to watch in the months and weeks leading up to the rodeo as the community starts to get really excited for the event.

READ MORE: Williams Lake city workers will haul dirt for Indoor Rodeo

“As soon as we kind of start promoting it a bit on our Facebook page it just goes like wildfire,” Oxtoby said. “So many people get excited and it’s always a big event, and a busy weekend for Williams Lake.”

On Friday, April 26 from 9 to 11 a.m., the main rodeo arena inside the CMRC will be transformed for the annual Cowboy Carnival — a free event tailored to children 10 years of age and under — providing a chance for them to try stick barrel racing, dummy roping, bucking bull barrels, bean bag toss, colouring, rodeo clown meet and greet and much more. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

For entertainment, dance the night away Friday, April 26 to the sounds of Kordaroy in rink two at the CMRC. Cover charge is $5.

Saturday, the Indoor Rodeo Barn Dance takes centre stage with featured entertainers One in the Chamber. Tickets to the barn dance are $20 each and available at the Indoor Rodeo Office beginning Friday.

Tickets to the rodeo are as follows: adults 15-59 ($18), seniors 60+ ($10), children 6-14 ($10), kids five and under (free), and a family of two adults, two children ($56).

Friday’s rodeo begins at 6 p.m. with both Saturday and Sunday rodeos getting underway at 1 p.m. At Sunday’s rodeo, the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees from the Cariboo — Willie Crosina, Phillip Camille and Lawrence Elkins — will be recognized at the start of the rodeo.

“We all look forward to that one,” Oxtoby said. “It’s going to be a full house Sunday as far as I can see.”

Oxtoby added while it’s a lot of work leading up to the rodeo, the countless number of volunteers help make sure everything runs smoothly — something the WLIRA is grateful for.

“We have about 150-plus volunteers who help out, and thanks to all of them, the sponsors and the directors — it’s them that help us put on the rodeo,” he said.

“It’s a rodeo where you get to see everybody you haven’t seen in a while, and it’s just something exciting to look forward to.”

READ MORE: Sellars, Price team up at Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo

For Oxtoby, this will be his 15th year volunteering with the WLIRA.

“I just put my name in way back then and thought it would look good on a resumé,” he said. “I got a call from Gwen Cyr that year and I’ve been going ever since. I did the office in the mall, did security for a while and then moved into being a director, and was president for four years.”

The annual Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo is the official kick off to the BC Rodeo Association season, and features 250-plus competitors annual and the top of the line in stock and entertainment.


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