Text by Steve Hubrecht


Photo by Nikki Fredrikson

Bullriding in the Rockies – one of the Columbia Valley’s signature events — is back again this summer.

The rodeo is the largest fundraiser for the local Columbia Valley Rockies hockey team and has been a staple on the valley’s events calendar since 1998. It’s a big deal for the cowboys too, attracting professional level bull riders from across western Canada and the U.S.

“We are delighted to be return” event organizer (and Invermere mayor) Al Miller told the Pioneer. “Clearly the community is excited too, as ticket sales have been very brisk.”

This year’s rodeo is set for Friday, July 22 and will feature not just world class bull riders, but also freestyle bull fighting, cowboy poker, and another event that Miller is keeping a surprise for now, saying only “it’s something different.”

“The bull riding is the main attraction, for sure, but the other events are fun to watch. The freestyle bull fighting, I should point out, is very different from bull fighting in Mexico or Spain. It’s an agility kind of thing. The rodeo clowns try to perform different tricks, getting as close to the bull as they can, while trying to avoid the bull’s head and horns. Sometimes they even jump right over the bull. It’s very interesting to watch.”

The cowboy poker involves a group of card players playing poker at a table in the ring with a bull. The winner of each hand is either the person who wins via normal poker rules, or — if the bull decides to charge — the person who is the last to run away from the poker table.

“The bulls tend to be the real winner of that event,” said Miller.

Fan-favourite rodeo clown Darryl Robertson will also be back this year, as will the mechanical bull on which would-be-rodeo riders can try their luck.

Some serious money is at stake for the cowboys, with more than $10,000 in prize earnings up for grabs.

A family dinner at the curling club will follow the rodeo, with live music from Cole Malone. Instead of the usual beef and beans meal, this year diners will be able to choose their supper from among a number of food trucks.

“It allows us to offer more variety and gives enough options that everybody can find something they enjoy to eat,” said Miller.

He was quick to thank Philip Sommerville and Nina Reilly for generously allowing organizers to use their land for the rodeo.

This year’s rodeo will be the 22nd annual edition of the event. Had the COVID-19 pandemic not cancelled Bullriding in the Rockies in both 2020 and 2021, it would have been the 24th edition of the rodeo.

Tickets are available at Home Hardware’s contractor pro desk, in the Building Centre. “It’s important to get them early, we will sell out,” said Miller. Prices are $40 for students or seniors, and $45 for adults. Kids age six and under are free. Anybody who buys tickets before July 15 gets an early bird discount of $5 off the normal ticket price.