The smell of leather will soon be in the air at Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre as the 23rd annual Kamloops Cowboy Festival is held from March 14 to March 17.
The festival touts itself as the biggest of its kind in Canada and one of the best in North America.
Anyone interested in cowboy music, poetry, art and food is welcome. A number of equipment vendors from all over Canada and the U.S. will also be on hand.
“We say that you don’t have to be a cowboy to enjoy the Kamloops Cowboy Festival. It’s not for cowboys — it’s put on by cowboys,” said B.C. Cowboy Heritage Society president and festival host Mark McMillan.
A tentative list of those presenting at the trade show includes exhibitors like the B.C. Rodeo Association, Cariboo Saddlery, Saddle Up Magazine, Longhorn Rope Creations and Kactus Western Wear.
Things kick off on Thursday, with pre-festival entertainment at the Horse Barn, 517 Mt. Paul Way. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., enjoy music from the Gordie West Band, a duo playing some “good old cowboy music.”
On Thursday evening at 6 p.m., head to the dinner dance with music from Ed Wahl and his band. At 7 p.m., the festival kickoff party begins at the hotel.
On Friday, the trade and art shows begin at noon and continue until 6 p.m. Entertainment runs from noon to 4:30 p.m. at the conference centre and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Horse Barn, with a shuttle running all day between the two venues.
On Friday evening, the evening show begins in the ballroom at 7 p.m. and dinner theatre starts in the theatre at 6:30 p.m.
The doors will open at 10 a.m. on Saturday for the trade show to begin, followed by the art show at 11 a.m. Both will run until 6 p.m.
Saturday’s evening show begins at 7 p.m. and dinner theatre runs once more at 6:30 p.m.
On Sunday, the entertainment starts the day at 9:30 a.m. in the ballroom until Cowboy Church at 10:30 a.m., held until noon.
The trade show and art show run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the festival’s final day and dinner theatre begins after happy hour at 5:30 p.m.
More than 23 musicians and poets have already been booked for the event, and many of them, McMillan said, are working cowboys.
Open mic spots are also available throughout the weekend and anyone interested in performing should “just show up,” according to festival organizers..
The event will also feature three inductions to the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame, including the Gun Granberg Ranch, Hilbert DeLeeuw and DeLeeuw Ranch and the Charlie Moon family.
A weekend pass for the show, which includes everything except dinner theatre, costs $80. Tickets are also available for evening shows and individual dinner theatre events. A single day pass for Friday, Saturday or Sunday is $25.
For more information on tickets, events and performers, go online to bcchs.com/festival.html.