(Kamloops This Week photo)

Kamloops Cowboy Festival rides off into the sunset

After two consecutive cancellations due to the pandemic, festival organizers to hang up their hats

It appears the sun has set on the Kamloops Cowboy Festival, after its organizers of 20 years have decided to retire.

Mark and Kathy McMillan first got involved in the festival’s third year.

“Kathy and I have said for a couple years that 2020 was going to be the last Cowboy Festival for us,” Mark McMillan said. “We were just going to retire.”

With the 2021 event also cancelled due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, McMillan decided to hang up his hat, concluding the festival without a final send-off year.

“After 20 or whatever years of doing it, we thought someone else maybe should, and no one else has stepped up,” he said.

The plan to retire had been discussed for a couple years, McMillan said, but no one from the BC Cowboy Heritage Society (BCCHS), which operates the festival and benefits from the funds it raises, was willing to take over the reins.

McMillan said another deciding factor was the society’s reserve funds having also dried up.

“We always kept enough funding so that if something happened one year we could go into the next year, but that funding is basically running out,” he said.

The festival was part of the BCCHS’s goal to promote and preserve the cowboy way of life. It did so through a convention-style show that included vendors from all over Western Canada — and beyond — and entertainment, including music, storytelling and dinner theatre.

The event was first held in 1997 at the Stockmen’s Hotel (now Delta Hotels by Marriott Kamloops) on Victoria Street. Its other venues over the years include the Calvary Church and, most recently, the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre.

McMillan is currently the president of the BCCHS and said he won’t run for that role again but will maintain limited involvement with the society.

In addition to the festival, which was the society’s biggest fundraiser, the BCCHS also operates the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame out of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin in Williams Lake.

And that is where McMillan suggested the next festival might take place, should it be restarted by the BCCHS.

The society also offers several scholarships, and McMillan said those scholarships, as well as the society itself, will continue, despite the loss of the festival.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

The Barriere Outdoor Club’s ski and snowshoe trails at the Barriere Forks Trails had plenty of snow last week, and thanks to the club’s groomer, Steve Rainer, the trails were reported to be in great shape (Mary MacLennan photo)
Outdoor ski and snowshoe trails ready at Barriere Forks

New signs and freshly groomed ski and snowshoe trails are ready and… Continue reading

(Metro Creative graphic)
Heart Stroke takes Heart Month fundraiser 100% online

Door-to-door Canvass goes virtual as pandemic accelerates digital innovations

Table 1: All Student Completion Rates 2012-2013 to 2019-2020
Completion rates for SD73 students continue to improve

By Diana Skolund School District 73 Completion rates for students in School… Continue reading

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read