Huge turnout highlights Doig River Rodeo

Judging from the fan filled grandstands and jam packed concession area one would never have guessed the bleak weather forecast for the first day of the Doig River Rodeo. Despite the poor conditions in the early morning, the rain clouds parted setting the stage for an ideal day at the rodeo.

Shortly after the action got underway on Saturday, Rodeo President Robert Dominic explained that such an event is also great for the Doig River first nation because they love to share their culture and love for rodeo with the surrounding community.

"It's been a pleasure having a rodeo every year and getting our neighbors to come from far and near and rodeo with us. It's great fun," he said. "For our community, the Doig River First Nation, we really enjoy having to show our home to neighbours like Fort St. John and Dawson Creek. We want them to come and see the great show we put on."

Rodeo Vice-President Vern Davis added that even though the day was threaten with rain, the weather doesn't much matter to folks at Doig River, the rodeo is always well attended no matter the conditions.

"Every year it doesn't matter the whether it's rainy or sunny people will come out," he said.

That was evident from the nearly full grandstands that surrounded the outdoor arena with more than 150 people taking in the events throughout the day. That doesn't include all the riders that came out for the event, which there were more than 80 of competing in 14 different events.

One of those riders was Braden Rutz, who won the steer-wrestling event after the only other competitor; Chance Bolin registered a no time. Although at 18 seconds, it wasn't the fastest time for the Rose Prairie native who grew up just fifteen minutes from Doig River, he was happy to take home top prize.

"It felt really good," he said. " I knew I was a little wide, so I knew I had to push off the get the head catch. I got [my feet a little bit behind me], if you want to be perfect you have to let your horse set them and they will be right in front of you so you can just slide. So I had to scramble a bit. He was a tough steer."

The 20-year-old Rutz also said that it was a good feeling to beat Bolin, somebody he has grown up riding against.

"We've rodeoed a lot together. I actually know his family pretty well. His uncle let's me use his arena a lot, it's kind of a family atmosphere," he said.

It was Groundbrich native Frankie Wilson who impressed the fans during her 17.1-second barrel racing run which was good enough to take home the victory on Saturday.

"My mare has had a year off and I haven't got to ride her a lot but she's pretty consistent, I love her," she said. "That was actually one of her faster runs. The ground was kind of wet today so I was kind of nervous, but she did her thing."

Wilson said after racing competitively on a rodeo scholarship at Casper College in Wyoming, it's nice to come home and relax and rodeo with friends and family.

"It's kind of different," she said comparing her rodeo experience state-side. "It's kind of fun to come up here to go to these ones and just have fun. You don't have to be so focused I like coming here because my family is here and having that kind of support is great."

The feature event of the day ended in particularly unexpected fashion as all eight bull riders failed to register a time, meaning all prize money was up for grabs again on Sunday.

Results for Sunday's rodeo were not available at the time of press.

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