Over the past week, Nakusp seemed to have been filling up with people from out of town. New faces from new places populated the streets, and accommodations, many but not all of them here for the First Annual Nakusp Rodeo.
J.R. Bruvall, the rodeo organizer responsible for bringing C+ Rodeos to our town, had said he was a little concerned that he had hardly any ticket sales locally before the event. Taking a look at the crowd in the stands on Saturday, July 28, it looked as though there were quite a few locals who had decided last minute to see what all the commotion was about.
Scattered around the site were merch tents and games for kids, including a mechanical bull and two shooting areas. An inflatable “OK Corral” had a bucket filled with water guns that kids could use to reenact a much cooler and less fatal version of the legendary final shootout. Livestock were corralled, waiting for the main events, with bulls lying in the heat, conserving their strength.
Summer had arrived, including a late thunderstorm on Friday evening that put a bit of a damper on the Friday night events, namely the dance held out at the rodeo grounds. Other than that, it was hot and clear, with the biggest challenge for the folks sitting in the stands and not wrestling, roping or riding was keeping cool and shaded.
At one, when the rodeo events started, there were still about a third of stands empty, but they had filled to overflowing later in the show, with spectators surrounding the rodeo ring an hour and a half later.
Starting off with bareback riding, one of the archetypal images linked to rodeo, the cowboys showed just what kind of stuff you have to have to get into the ring: skill, luck and toughness. Fortunately, neither rider nor horse were hurt, although the cowboy’s pride may have taken a hit after not making the eight-second mark on the bronc’s back.
Steers were wrestled, calves were roped and tied, and the clown kept the audience entertained with witty remarks and physical goofiness. Dressed in a tight white star-spangled suit, a cape and a mullet, the rodeo clown took on the challenge of jumping a very small dirt bike over a not-very-daunting line up of toy trucks, and a couple of prone cowboys.
Josh Sheppard, the rodeo clown, hails from Clarkston, Washington, and has always loved being a clown. This is his sixth season, and although he has the skills to tussle with cows and horses, he said he prefers being a clown.
“It’s a good gig,” he told the Arrow Lakes News before the show, “It’s something I always wanted to do. As a kid I always watched the clown more than anything else.”
Sheppard wasn’t the only American visitor. Cowboys from all over the Northwest states had come up to Nakusp to compete in our first rodeo. Like many visitors to the area, the rodeo announcer was blown away by the beauty of our corner of the world, and said it was the first time he’d ever been at a rodeo where you could see houseboats on a lake.
The cowboys showcased their skills, roping and tying calves, racing horses, wrestling steer and more. For their part, the livestock gave as good as they got, with more than one cowboy missing his chance thanks to a quick-moving calf or strong steer that refused to be pulled to the ground.
Rodeos let cowboys display the expertise needed on a ranch when cows do need to be chased down, horses need to be tamed, and teamwork between both horses and men as well as cowboys is vital. For Nakusp, it was a chance for the citizenry to see what cowboys do, and feel the excitement of a rodeo. From the familiar faces in the packed stands, it looks like they got out and enjoyed it.