For the first time the Kispiox Rodeo has been cancelled.
This year’s event, which had been tentatively scheduled for May 31 – June 1, would have been the 73rd annual, making it one of the oldest rodeos in B.C.
Chair of the Kispiox Rodeo Club Joy Allen said it was a tough call to make.
“We have no idea where the virus is going or anything like that but at this point in time we did it out of respect for the local businesses that sponsor our rodeo,” she said. “We don’t think it is fair to ask to continue to support our rodeo financially when so many of them are getting shut down or laying off employees. These businesses in this area have been outstanding for us for at least forty years.”
Allen knows cancelling the event, dubbed the biggest little rodeo in the north, will be tough on a lot of people.
“There are so many people that get paid to come to our rodeo like our announcer, the bull fighter and the rodeo clown plus all the vendors that make money off the rodeo. It is really hard on the rodeo world right now especially the stock contractors. They have raised all of the stock, they have to keep them in top physical shape, give them the best food all winter and now they can’t make money, it is a huge financial loss for them.”
She added the local economy will also miss having the rodeo which is usually a generous boost for places like for gas stations, campgrounds, hotels, and restaurants.
Allen said she also knows people will miss it.
“Because of the generous donations from our sponsors over the years, our prize money is the highest prize money in the British Columbia Rodeo Association and because of that we get outstanding contestants that make the effort to come to the rodeo. The points they get coming here counts to the finals. No one wants to miss this rodeo because it pays the most. It gives our spectators a first class event to come and watch. They are watching the best in the business,” she said.
Jared Marshall has competed at the rodeo and is disappointed he won’t be able to attend this year.
“I started competing in 1988 in calf riding in that rodeo and I won it. It is my home town rodeo. I grew up watching it from age of four,” he said. “I won the novice bareback in 2000 and 2004, won the open bareback in 2013, 2014, 2016. It is disappointing not to get to visit family and friends at the greatest rodeo in BC with the hardest working rodeo committee you will ever see and riding some of the best bucking stock in Canada from C+ Rodeo.”
He also said the organizers make the event special and knows a lot of competitors enjoy it.
“Gene and Joy Allen have mentored many cowboys in B.C. including myself. They are always there to give you stock to get on when GJ rodeo [Gene and Joy’s former company name that had bucking horses] was going and give you pointers or just a warm meal and positive words. For hundreds of cowboys throughout that weekend it feels like home to many.”
Allen added the Kispiox Rodeo will be back. “We’ll come back next year for sure. We will be excited to see everyone again,” she said. “If this economy keeps going the way it is for too much longer, I think it will affect the business for next year so we might have to decrease our purse— which is fine. I think everyone is in the same boat. People are just so amazing, especially in this area for making things happen and getting things done. They just bounce back and I think it’ll come back and we will be back to our regular schedule …. I’m hoping.”