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As Falkland Stampede enters 97th year, volunteers wonder about future

05/15/2015 12:21 EDT | Updated 05/15/2016 05:59 EDT
Bob Carson knows just about where every rock is at the Falkland Stampede, one of Canada's oldest stampedes.

Carson says he started taking tickets from people at the front of the rodeo's entry gates when he was 14 years old.

Now in his 70s, he remains a loyal volunteer groundskeeper, making sure everything is in top shape when thousands of people arrive for the three-day event in British Columbia's Okanagan-Shuswap region.

At least, Carson hopes that many people arrive when the Falkland Stampede opens this weekend.

The Falkland Stampede, which began just after the First World War in 1919, is a significant revenue-generator for the town, and the money raised typically goes back to community programs.

But in recent years, the number of visitors have dwindled, and it remains to be seen how the rodeo will fare at its 97th year this weekend, said Carson.

The "good old days"

"In the good old days, 7,000 people would go through here, but there's just something different every year," Carson told Daybreak Kamloops.

"People keep changing, doing different things. There's camping and fishing. There's not that much cowboy activity or people who like rodeo anymore, you don't see them around much."

Carson, whose wife Gayle also volunteers for the Falkland Stampede, says it remains one of the few rodeos left in small towns. Gayle says they had a "very poor year" last year in terms of revenue, and she hopes this year will be better.

Though Carson jokes that volunteering at the Falkland Stampede keeps him from divorcing his wife, both he and Gayle say the event is integral to the community's sense of identity.

"[Ninety-seventh year], this will be," Gayle said, referring to the stampede's anniversary.

"I feel like I've been here for all of them."

The Falkland Stampede runs from May 16 to May 18. 

To hear the full story, listen to the audio labelled: Worry Falkland Stampede will not make it to their 100th year

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