BOWDEN — Attendance at Rodeo Daze was up about 20 per cent this year, according to Bowden & District Agricultural Society president Keith Bailey.
Bailey attributes that surge to two factors: the society’s first annual pro rodeo and a pent-up desire by people to mingle again as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
Bowden Rodeo Daze were held July 16-18.
Bailey estimates about 1,200 people attended the event on Saturday, resulting in standing room only.
He figures about 300 people attended on Friday when they held a junior rodeo and that about 700 people came out for the final day of the rodeo on Sunday.
“We had a lot of people come out and enjoy themselves, which was good to see. It’s good to see smiling faces again and everyone just enjoying themselves and watching some pro rodeo,” he said during an interview.
“We’ve never had standing room only at the rodeo grounds.”
He said in previous years, they’d get 900 to 1,000 people on a Saturday.
"We’ll have a pro rodeo again next year," he said.
Bailey said the rodeo attracted people from as far south as the U.S. border and as far north as the High Level area.
He was asked if they’ve ever attracted people from that far afield before.
“Yeah, sometimes. But I found this year there were a few more people from all over the place,” he said.
In previous years, a midway has been set up for Bowden Daze. That didn’t happen this year.
Bailey said that’s because when organizers began planning the 2021 edition of Bowden Daze they weren’t even sure that they’d be allowed to have spectators.
"You have to book midways far enough in advance that once we found out that we were able to have spectators and a full rodeo, it was too late to book a midway,” he said.
Bailey was asked if Bowden Daze will include a midway next year.
“(That’s) something we’ll take to the board table for sure,” he said.
Like many places across the province, smoke from forest fires in B.C. created a haze in the area. It could easily be smelled.
Bailey was asked if that created concern about the health of spectators and animals during the rodeo.
“There was a little bit of concern with the smoke, but we have protocol in place if it got too bad. But it wasn’t bad enough to stop the rodeo,” he said.