Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo
Celebrating 60 Years
Dedicated to celebrating and preserving the western culture and way of life
Our western culture and lifestyle is important to us. Not only has the Nicola Valley Rodeo Association (NVRA) spent the last 60 years celebrating and preserving this culture , it also hosts a wide range of equine and livestock events. Furthermore, the NVRA hosts everything from professional rodeos to 4-H and high school events! The Nicola Valley Professional Rodeo takes place on the September long weekend every year. For 60 years, our Nicola Valley has welcomed competitive professionals. They are now vying for $20,000 in prize money. This is the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association’s (CPRA) Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo.
60th Annual Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo
September 1 -2 , 2018. Celebrate 60 years with us!
We offer close-to-the-action covered grandstand seating, free parking, food concessions and beer gardens. We also include crafters, saddle makers and vendors selling all things uniquely western. In addition, come watch the professional cowboys and cowgirls fight for a position at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR). The Labour Day Weekend is busy in Merritt, not only with our Annual Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo but also with the Fall Fair. Come visit our valley this September long weekend and celebrate 60 great years with us!
- Saturday, Sept 1st @1 pm
- Sunday, Sept 2nd @ 1 pm
2018 Rodeo attractions:
- Wacey Mulvahill Wild Pony Events
- Stock saddle bronc and peewee barrel racing
- Beer Gardens, food vendors and onsite concession
Tickets available in advance at Merritt Summer Nights Market at the gate, or by contacting:
Melissa Dinsdale: 250-315-9305, or Haley Rutherford: 250-378-5059
- Kids 10 & Under: Free
When accompanied by an adult (maximum two children per adult)
- Students & Seniors: $13
- Seniors over 80 – Free
- Adults: $15
- Admission: CASH ONLY- No dogs allowed
Bus service is available to the rodeo grounds. See the schedule below for full details. Bus schedule
What you can find at the grounds
The Nicola Valley Rodeo Association operates and maintains grounds that host not only the annual professional rodeo but also the little britches rodeo and everything in between. This venue is perfect for equine and outdoor events. It offers stalls, bucking chutes, announcers, box seating and even a covered grandstand.
Rodeos in the Nicola Valley area started with people just wanting to have fun! We still do!
July 1st always brought out crowds eager to see the Cowboy Race, Hurdle Race and the Ladies’ Race. not to mention any other entertainment on offer!
Victoria Day was always a major celebration. It included horse racing, gymkhana events, athletic sports and of course, the big parade! There were marching bands, floats and huge crowds!
Lower Nicola offered special train fares for any events held there. Of course, people took full advantage of these deals and lined up for tickets! They looked forward to these early stampedes for months ahead! They also prepared for them months in advance! The annual Bachelors’ Ball was the gala event! Personal invitations were sent out to the valley’s single ladies who hoped to find that “special someone”.
It began as a Stampede
The Rodeo began its life as a Stampede 1934. Workers scrambled to build corrals and chutes right in Voght Park. Zack Walker became manager, Leo Morrissey secretary-treasurer. Hans Richter brought a string of bucking horses from Kamloops Reserve to challenge the riders. The real action took place on August 3 and 4, 1934. John Guichon, Harry Ferguson, Sid Brueke and Tom Shuter were the judges presenting prizes. Winners took home prizes up to $100 for bronco riding, steer wrestling and other events.
Storekeepers decorated their windows, restaurants offered ‘Stampede Specials’. Pioneer families held mini reunions. And, of course there was the giant parade! No one missed that unless they were unconscious!
Advertising for the 1935 event at the Voght Park Stampede Grounds guaranteed “a fast, snappy exhibition” as well as “a clear view from the grandstand”. Admission was 50 cents. Of course, the parade was as big a draw as the stampede.
In 1941, the Stampede was cancelled due to the second world war. It was revived in 1959 by the Nicola Valley Riding and Roping Club. Vern (Blondie) Ellingson, Gordon Walker and Ted Spencer took the reins in 1966 and ran the Stampede as a private enterprise. The organization and volunteers helped wherever they could.
The Stampede soon grew beyond an amateur rodeo and attracted high calibre professional cowboys. Soon, it became a 3-day Labour Day weekend event. When Ted Spencer was killed in an accident in 1969, his widow, Larein, handed the venture over to the community.
The Rodeo Association is formed
The Nicola Valley Rodeo Association was formed and then renamed the NV Memorial Rodeo Association in honour of Ted Spencer. John Collett managed it over the next decade. Furthermore, with a lot of donated material and man hours, the rodeo arena was erected at Collettville.
Scaled back to two days, the 1978 rodeo saw 196 competitors, including 46 of the top 50 Canadian Rodeo Cowboys. They were vying for $10,000 in prizes!
The 1981 joint Rodeo Fall Fair land purchase started the task of building new facilities. All levels of government and many local businesses contributed. 1982 saw the first official Rodeo Fair Days.
This Labour Day Weekend we will enjoy the Nicola Valley Fall Fair in addition to the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo, and the parade!