The grandstands of the Kispiox Valley Rodeo arena were packed with large crowds June 2 and 3.
The 71st annual Kispiox Rodeo drew in competitors and spectators on a global scale this year.
“This weekend we had bronco riders from Australia, New Mexico, South Dakota, all over Alberta. We’ve had riders that have competed in the national finals rodeo, the Canadian finals, and then we have our hometown cowboys,” said Joy Allen, president of the Kispiox Rodeo Club.
The rodeo shows no sign of slowing down even as it passes its seventh decade.
“We’ve been doing it for 71 years – it’s one of the oldest rodeos in B.C. It’s one of the only old-fashioned rodeos left in Canada like this. Most rodeos you go to, you pay your money, the rodeo goes for about two hours, and you leave. This is one of the very few rodeos left where you can come and camp and dance on the grounds, just like they did 70 years ago,” said Allen.
“We’re the highest paying rodeo in the British Columbia Rodeo Association. We have the highest bronc riding money that’s ever been paid in a semi-pro association. We have some of the top bucking stock in Canada here.”
Allen is grateful for the committee and local communities that have played a huge role in making the event a success.
“Our community backs this like no other community, I don’t think, in B.C. We’re probably one of the most economically depressed areas here, and yet people are coming up. The community just supports community events so incredibly well, especially Smithers and Hazelton. It just blows my mind, every year they just do it, over and over and over again. That enables us to put up big prize money, which draws cowboys from all over the world,” she said.
“We’re so lucky here with the quality of competitors we have, and the quality of the stock, and the amount of prize money. Just amazing.”
Hundreds of people of all ages braved the gloomy weather to watch a variety of events, from bronco and bull riding, to barrel racing and wild cow milking.
There were several footraces on Sunday where spectators from different age groups could volunteer to compete by sprinting from one end of the arena to the other to vie for a cash prize.
Allen said one of the highlights of the rodeo is its family atmosphere.
“It’s so different because it’s so professionally run, with professional stock and personnel, and yet we’ve managed to keep this old-fashioned camaraderie – camping and dances, stuff like that,” she said.
“We had great attendance, good crowds, concessions were good … it was just a really, really successful weekend.”