DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The 100th Dawson Creek Exhibition and Stampede is underway this week until August 14th at the Exhibition Grounds.
Connie Patterson, who has served as the president of the event for 21 years, and her committee have been working non-stop to make this year’s event the biggest and best year while remembering the past.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary, some past events are returning, such as a slow pitch tournament, and bingo. There is also a new addition,”Indian Relay Race.”
Patterson’s family has been a cornerstone of the creation and coordination of the event since it started. She recounts the homestead farmers from Rolla, North Rolla and Pouce Coupe who came together to celebrate the harvest and trade livestock.
Within three weeks, they built a rodeo track, corrals, chutes and a food pavilion. They played baseball and raced wagons while the women cooked and traded wares.
When asked how she thinks those homesteaders would feel if they knew the scope of their legacy, she says, “they would be amazed and really proud.”
One popular event returning is bingo, which hasn’t been a part of the exhibition for almost 50 years.
Patterson states that while the men were rodeoing and playing ball, her mother, Merle Grant, would play bingo and catch up with her neighbours.
This year’s bingo is being hosted by The Obair Society and the Bear Mountain Ski Hill.
The Obair Society is celebrating its 35 years of providing job skills, education and training to Northern BC.
The money raised will support their peer program, hot meals program, and emergency kits. Last year they served almost 300 hundred clients and served over 8,000 meals.
“We jumped at the chance to co-host this event and are happy that the money raised will stay in the community to support local businesses,” said Shaely Wilbur, executive director of the Obair Society.
For the second year, the Obair Society will also be supporting Troy Flad in the chuckwagon races. The society will also have a float in the parade on Friday, and staff and students will be handing out 350 gate admissions throughout.
The bingo games will be hosted by the music stand and, thanks to Bear Mountain Ski Hill, seat up to 250 people. Tickets are ten dollars each and will be sold on location before the start times. Participants are asked to bring their own dabbers, but there will be extras available for those who need one.
The “Indian Relay Races” will be at the rodeo grounds Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
This is a traditional First Nations event where teams consist of one rider, three horses, two holders and a mugger.
The race starts in front of the grandstand, with a standing start. Racers make one lap around the track, changing horses twice.
Since this year’s riders are all from Alberta, Patterson says she is challenging the First Nations riders from Treaty 8 to watch and enter next year.
There will also be a youth “Indian Relay Race” before the adult categories, in which the kids will ride shetland ponies.
“The Exhibition and Stampede has always had great relations and respect with our First Nations communities. Right from the beginning, they were involved in the construction of the rodeo grounds and as fierce competitors in all categories,” said Patterson
There will also be three big tents and some teepees set up on the grounds where some local First Nations people and organizations, including the Dawson Creek Nawican Friendship Centre, will be stationed.