It has been a tradition through the years and this year is no exception as the Historic O’Keefe Ranch celebrates its 146th birthday with the 18th Annual Summer Cowboy Festival.
This year’s festival promises to be a lot of fun for the whole family.
The event goes Saturday and Sunday.
The focus is on the working cowboy, as in the days when the O’Keefe Ranch was a working cattle operation – one of the largest in the Interior of B.C.
Ranch rodeo, the Working Cow Horse Competition, the reata long-throw contest, a cowboy barbecue as well as western music and cowboy poetry are all found at this year’s festival.
Watch as real working cowboys show their skills in the rodeo arena as teams from ranches throughout B.C. compete against each other in timed events such as team branding, calf doctoring, the wild horse race, cattle penning and loading, using the skills unique to their daily work.
Each team tries to outperform the others for the honour of earning the title of Top Hand and winning the coveted prizes of silver bits and spurs.
Each day of the Summer Cowboy Festival starts with the Working Ranch Horse competition. This event demonstrates how a cowboy and his horse work in harmony.
The reining components and cow work of this event will be judged by Miles Kingdon, Cow Boss of Merritt’s Quilchena Ranch.
Following the Ranch Horse contest there will be a stock dog demonstration by well-known dog breeder and handler Bob Stephens. Prepare to be awed as Stephens puts his well-trained border collies to work herding sheep.
The ranch rodeo will commence after a grand-opening ceremony with local dignitaries. Throughout the day, drop by the Pavilion to hear western music by Matt Johnston and Dave Longworth’s cowboy poetry.
And be sure to take advantage of the refreshments offered at the beer garden and concession.
Once the ranch rodeo action is complete the cowboys will display their skills at throwing a lariat in the reata long-throw competition.
“This is really the backbone of a cowboy’s skill,” said Rob Dinwoodie, one of the festival committee members. “Each year the distance gets further with accurate catches at more than 50 feet.”
A cowboy barbecue will be served in the Pavilion by the Cattleman’s Club Restaurant at 5 p.m. Saturday, followed by a barn dance at 7 p.m.
For those who enjoy attending church, a cowboy service will be held Sunday at 9 a.m. at St. Anne’s Church on the ranch site. Each day, pony rides and activities will be available for kids and stagecoach rides will be offered to help guests get into the cowboy spirit.
Tickets are available by contacting the ranch at 250-542-7868 or visit Okeeferanch.ca.