The 34th Annual Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders (BCVRR) Rodeo will be back in the black, thanks to a small grant from the provincial fairs, festivals and events recovery program.
The British Columbia Rodeo Association event will return on the July long weekend for four days of family-friendly events, including gymkhana events on the Friday after being on hold for two years.
The grant of $17,230 in operational funds is “significant because it gives us some money to start,” said Joy MacKay, a member of the board of directors for the BCVRR since 1997.
Being able to pay for some of their costs up front will be a big leg up after two years of expenses maintaining the property, but without any opportunities to make income with no rodeos.
While the group has received some small grants to cover costs such as Hydro, thanks to the local community forest and others, she said they have used up their cash reserves, so this will enable them to get the ball rolling on some of the costs.
The event is a big infusion of tourism dollars into the community, said MacKay and it has a family-friendly atmosphere with many events and prizes for young participants, creating a different appeal for the amateur event.
“It’s a really busy weekend for the tourism businesses,” said MacKay.
Though the two years have been hard on the group, MacKay said the board of directors is still in place, but there will be some challenges to restarting the event.
“It’ll be a bit of an uphill climb to put all the connections back in place that we used to have year to year,” she explained, adding that the stock contractor they have used in the past is no longer in business.
Finding a new stock contractor will be top of the list of priorities, as will a renewed focus on keeping things local.
While in the past the organization has brought in live music acts from further afield, MacKay hopes they can potentially use local musicians as well, to help support local and keep things simple and costs down.
The event has a long-running history in the valley and while fewer locals participate than in the past, MacKay said all four of her daughters used to take part in the kids events when they were younger and some locals have gone on to bigger rodeos, including bull rider Isaac Mack, a top-ranked Canadian competitor who started out riding cows at the Bella Coola rodeo.
The province’s press release states that “recipients demonstrated the economic and social benefits to the community and strong local or regional support. Eligible expenses include operational costs, health and safety measures, venue rental, marketing, wages and promotion.”
A total of 681 events across the province have been awarded grants through this program for a total of $29,958,048 in payouts to help support events.