Get ready to giddy up and get your cowboy boots on because the 14th anniversary of the Bill McIntosh Memorial Bullriding in the Rockies event is sure to exhilarate and entertain in equal measure.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic since year one,” said organizer Al Miller. “It’s been a great fundraiser, it’s been well attended, and the locals certainly really appreciate it… they love it, and they come out and show their western pride each year.”
Taking place on Friday (July 20), the event started out as an idea for a fundraiser for the Columbia Valley Rockies hockey team and has been a popular summer attraction ever since. Thirty of the best bullriders from across the country will compete for a hefty prize pool by riding bulls that come from the very same stock as some of the animals in the Calgary Stampede.
“You can go to the Calgary Stampede and you can watch the bullriding there, but here the big difference is you’re in it — you’re not using [binoculars] to see the action.”
The event starts at 5 p.m. in the Invermere Curling Centre with a cowboy dinner of beef, biscuits and beans, and a rodeo clown and a special Woof and Whinny dog and horse show to gradually build excitement for the main event. At 7:15 p.m. in the lot behind the rink, riders take to their bulls for an action-packed ride that usually lasts only eight seconds, but as Miller explains, what an exciting eight seconds it is.
“It’s eight seconds of hell,” Miller joked. “It’s adrenaline, it’s excitement — the crowd gets so excited.”
Following the main event, at about 9:30 p.m., a family dance at the curling centre begins, featuring live music from the Alberta band Scarecrow. Miller estimates they get at least 1,400 people out for the event each year, and cautions that the upper limit on tickets is about 1,700. Tickets are $19 for students and seniors and $29 for adults, and are available at Home Hardware, the Book Bar, Selkirk TV, Bigway Foods in Fairmont, the Brisco General Store, The Source, and the Mountainside Market in Radium and Fairmont.