Giddy up! Kamloops Cowboy Festival returns this week

The Kamloops Cowboy Festival returns this week in its 19th year of celebrating cowboy culture in B.C.

The 19th Annual Kamloops Cowboy Festival starts this Thursday and runs through Sunday.

The 19th Annual Kamloops Cowboy Festival starts this Thursday and runs through Sunday.

By Kamloops This Week

The Kamloops Cowboy Festival returns this week in its 19th year of celebrating cowboy culture in B.C.

The four-day event, which features live performances, workshops and activities all with a cowboy flare, draws an average of 4,000 to 5,000 people each year.

Festival chairman Marc McMillan expects visitors from all over — with the vast majority hailing from Alberta — for this year’s event, which runs from Thursday, March 12 through Sunday, March 15.

While McMillan said the festival will mostly largely resemble events from past years, this year will see the return of a popular harmonica workshop hosted by Gary Allegretto, which takes place on Saturday at 1 p.m.

McMillan said Allegretto guarantees even the musically challenged will leave the workshop with a few songs under their belt.

“He was here two years ago and people loved it,” McMillan said.

He also noted that workshop attendees will leave with their own harmonica.

McMillan said the festival is not just for those looking for country music and cowboy boots.

The event is intended to promote and preserve cowboy heritage in the province — with funds from the event going to the B.C. Cowboy Heritage Society, whose mandate is just that — and families and those interested are encouraged to come out.

The event schedule includes:

Thursday, March 12: Dinner dance at the Ramada Kamloops; kickoff party at the Coast Kamloops Convention Centre, free to all weekend pass holders

Friday, March 13: Kickoff events at the Horse Barn, with entertainment from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and free shuttle service. Doors open at the convention centre at 9 a.m., with shuttle buses running to the Horse Barn all morning. Trade and art shows run noon to 6 p.m.; daytime entertainment from noon until 4:45 p.m.; evening show at 7 p.m. at the Calvary Church; dinner theatre, happy hour and dinner and a show at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 14, entertainment from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Horse Barn with free shuttle service. Doors open at the convention centre at 10 a.m.; trade show from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; art show from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; evening show at the Calvary Church at 7 p.m.; happy hour at 5:30 p.m. and dinner and a show at 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 15, doors open and entertainment starts at 9:30 a.m. Cowboy church from 10:30 a.m. to noon; trade and art show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; daytime entertainment 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.; rising star showcase from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; happy hour at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and a show.

Events are at various venues, including the Calvary Community Church, the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre and the Ramada Inn. For the full schedule, go online to bcchs.com/festival.html#schedule. For more information, call 250-579-5667.