The skies were dark and rain was falling up the Similkameen valley towards Paul Creek – just in time for the start of the Keremeos Elks Rodeo on Saturday.
Fortunately, however, other than for a few light sprinkles at the rodeo grounds, the inclement weather held off.
There was plenty of action out of the bull pens this year with saddle bronc, bareback and bull riding highlighting Saturday and Sunday’s events. Contestants in the team roping and barrel racing events were light, due to a recent outbreak of highly contagious equine herpes in the western part of North America. (The disease is believed to have originated at a horse show in Ogden, Utah, two weeks ago. It spreads easily and quickly with minimal contact between horses; locally at least three cases of the outbreak has been reported in the Vernon area.)
Several Victoria Day rodeos across the province were cancelled due to the disease – 100 Mile House’s Little Britches Rodeo, the Quesnel BC High School Rodeo, South Cariboo Rodeo Association Rough Stock Rodeo and District Outriders Gymkhana were all cancelled this weekend. In Keremeos, the barrel racing events suffered the most, with all but three of the 15 local novice barrel racers showing up to the Keremeos event on Saturday.
A reasonably sized crowd turned out for the Saturday offerings.
Rodeo spokesperson Joe Reichert noted that the weekend crowds were not as heavy as they would have liked, possibly due to the horse herpes concern and the Sunday afternoon scheduling of the Vancouver Canucks – San Jose Sharks western final playoff game. Inconsistent weather might also have played into the mix.Crowd counts for Saturday and Sunday were down by roughly 300-400 people from 2010.
The Fireman’s Pancake Breakfast in Memorial Park was well attended both Saturday and Sunday mornings with fire department personnel and supporters serving hundreds of breakfasts. A Sunday morning church service and Sunday evening steak dinner rounded out the weekend’s organized activities in Memorial Park.
Monday’s pro bull riding and ladies barrel racing events were well attended as the weather improved with clearing skies, light winds and warmer conditions. Mark Johanssen, hailing from Alberta, won Monday’s pro bull riding event, scoring 83 points in a qualifying round. Although he didn’t compete in the final due to injuries received on his qualifying ride, his score held up through the afternoon.
The ladies barrels event consisted of four divisions with the following results:
1. Cathy Lazic
2. Lisa Conley
1. Dakota Conley
2. Kassie Glover
3. Stacey Carter
1. Sierra Stukel
2. Jamie Long
3. Kim Feist
1. Siobhan Carins
2. Brady McNolte
Okanagan rodeo spectators were treated to a lengthy detour Saturday afternoon when Highway 3A was closed at Green Mountain Road. Two large slabs of rock fell onto the highway at the construction site at Yellow Lake resulting in motorists having to detour onto Green Mountain Road to Penticton, or alternatively from Green Mountain Road to Marron Valley Road, adding considerably to their travelling time and distance.
The highway reopened later Saturday evening.