More than 100,000 people packed the Cloverdale Fairgrounds on the Victoria Day long weekend — the largest crowd in recent years for the long-running Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair.
“It’s been a great year,” said spokeswoman Laura Ballance. “The weather co-operated for the most part, and certainly the crowds came out.”
A fireworks show Friday night kicked off the four-day event, which featured saddle bronc competitions, bareback, bull-riding and ladies barrel racing.
More than 20,000 people watched five rodeo performances, including two sold-out shows and near-capacity crowds for three other performances.
Two B.C. women — Katie Garthwaite of Merritt and Julie Leggett of Kamloops — placed first and third respectively in the ladies barrel racing category, with Garthwaite taking home $20,000 in prize money.
The rodeo wasn’t all about broncs and barrels. Andy Anderson of White Rock won top honours in the amateur division of the 5th annual world freestyle skateboarding competition.
The Victoria Day long weekend, traditionally considered the unofficial kickoff to summer, was cloudy with a sprinkling of rain and merely seasonal temperatures.
It was certainly better than the weather in Calgary, which recorded three centimetres of snow Sunday afternoon. In contrast, the city of Vancouver opened its outdoor pools and water parks on Saturday.
Across B.C., park rangers and conservation officers fanned out to recreation sites and back country locales to enforce regulations. Campfires were permitted on the long weekend, which usually launches the start of camping season, but B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson warned of campfire bans as the summer progresses.
It was also a hectic weekend for B.C. Ferries, which added 70 sailings to deal with the expected rush of cars and passengers, particularly on the Friday and Monday.
The ferry company tacked on an extra 46 sailings between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay and an additional 15 sailings for the Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay route.