Organizers of a century-old North Okanagan tradition are rescheduling their event amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of holding its annual stampede in May, the North Okanagan community of Falkland has pushed the event back to August.
Organizers are now planning to hold the stampede from Aug. 28-30.
If it proceeds, this year’s event would be the 102nd Falkland Stampede.
The multi-day event, which features a rodeo and parade, typically attracts thousands of visitors and serves as a major fundraiser for the unincorporated town.
“This is our largest fundraiser of the year. It keeps our community going for the rest of the year, we are able to sustain all of our buildings, our community hall, our skating rink, basically everything in the town,” rodeo manager Melissa Churchill said in a 2019 interview.
In announcing the stampede is being postponed, the organizers did not specifically blame the change on COVID-19, but an existing public health order due to the pandemic would likely make the event, in its current form, impossible.
Currently, mass gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited in B.C. under an order made by the Provincial Health Officer designed to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
That order is set to expire on May 30 but could be extended further.
Additionally, public health officials are advising people to go well beyond what’s required by the order banning mass gatherings, by staying at least two metres from others in public and not gathering with people outside your household, even in small groups.
The current public health advice to limit contact with people outside your household and uncertainty over how long those social distancing measures will be needed are raising questions about the viability and scheduling of many Okanagan events, not just the Falkland Stampede.
The Interior Provincial Exhibition, in Armstrong, which typically attracts more than 100,000 visitors to its rodeo, fair and midway, said this week it is currently still planning to go ahead with this year’s event.
However, the IPE said it may be forced to cancel the early September event if regulations and advice about gathering haven’t been relaxed as the date of the fair approaches.View link »