Rodeo-goers flooded the gates of the 93rd annual Falkland Stampede, despite some concerns that could have kept spectators away.
Organizers admit they were worried attendance might be down due to flood warnings in the region earlier in the week, plus a horse herpes outbreak in Western Canada (with three suspected cases in Vernon) which cancelled other B.C. rodeos.
Yet the event saw between 5,000 and 6,000 people over the three days, with Saturday breaking attendance records.
“Saturday was an all-time record,” said Stampede manager Jason Churchill as 1,500 to 2,000 people came out to catch all the action on the first day.
The campgrounds were packed as visitors from as far as Munich, Germany and Las Vegas came to take in the Stampede.
The event also remained dry, despite previous flooding concerns.
“We were high and dry,” said event organizer Ozzie Leaf, as the stampede grounds sit well above the Salmon River and above the potential for flooding.
One issue that could have kept competitors out of the ring is an equine herpes outbreak, which was being rumoured much larger than it actually is.
“That was a huge issue for us,” said Churchill, as rumours were spreading that hundreds of horses were dying of the disease, when in fact only seven have. “It all stemmed from a cutting horse competition in Ogden, Utah.”
The outbreak forced several of Western Canada’s rodeos to postpone (including 100 Mile House’s Little Britches rodeo) and there are three horses in Vernon suspected of having the virus.
While a few barrel racers were kept away from Falkland’s Stampede, due to concerns about the proximity to Vernon, Churchill says those informed weren’t scared away from the show.
The May long weekend event also went off without a hitch.
“It was probably one of our most problem free-ers,” said Churchill as no major incidents took place, no ambulances were needed and no animals were injured.
Poor weather also steered clear of the event.
“I can’t believe how lucky we were, it rained all around us but we never got a drop in any of the three days.”
The lack of rain was appreciated by professional cowboys (and girls) competing for more than $45,000 in prizes. Competitors included former Vernon bull rider, who now calls Alberta home, Ty Elliott (he split fourth and fifth prize money).
Firsts are as follows:
- Saddle bronc riding – Brad Rudolph, Nevada
- Bareback – Luke Walker, Kamloops, B.C.
- Bull riding – Devon Mezei, Stettler, Alta.
- Tie down roping – Clint Robinson, Utah and Logan Hofer, Alta.
- Steer wrestling – Travis Reay, Mayerthorpe, Alta.
- Ladies barrel racing – Raylae Edwards, Lethbridge, Alta.
- Team roping – Tyrel Flewelling and Roland McFadden, Alta.
- Boys steer riding – Riley Claypool, Cranbrook, B.C.
The stampede also recognized a special cowboy who died last year – Harvey Northcott. Stampede souvenir posters honouring the late stock contractor are still available. Call 250-379-2262.