BY DEANNA BUSCHERT
For many talented cowboy entertainers, artisans and Western lifestyle addicts, the Annual Kamloops Cowboy Festival is a March tradition. This year marked the 17th edition of the Kamloops, BC, festival, which hosted an extensive list of the hottest performers of today’s country western entertainment. The star studded stage line-up included Canada’s Tim Hus and Gary Fjellgaard, American’s Dave Stamey and the half-cracked humour of Australian Champion Bush Poet, Carol Heuchan.
Kamloops is historically considered to be ranching country. Throughout the second weekend in March, the BC Cowboy Festival’s objective is to honour the legacy of the working cowboy and promote the unique heritage, which follows this way of life.
The music, poetry and artisans which decend upon Kamloops during the March cowboy gala, are second to none.
“It’s not what you expect sometimes- it is genuine and real,” explained festival co-founder and entertainer Hugh McLennan.
According to McLennan, the Kamloops Cowboy Festival is considered by everyone in the genre, the place to be.
This year’s BC Cowboy Heritage Hall of Fame honourees included Artistic Achievement winner, (the late) Mike Puhallo, Century Ranch recipient the Pooley Ranch, Working Cowboy award winner Steve Archacan (Hyde) and the annual Family inductee went to the Pozzobon (Sammy) outfit.
The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lietenant Governor of BC, was on hand to congratulate the 2013 BCCHS Hall of Fame honourees. Guichon knows the cowboy life first hand. The Governor owns and operates the Gerard Guichon Ranch, a large cattle operation in the Nicola Valley, BC.
This year’s Joe Marten Award winner was Merritt BC’s Don Lowen. Lowen is a talented craftsman, who once worked on the famous Douglas Lake Ranch and for several decades has been one of BC’s most respected saddle makers.
“I remember having this desire to build saddles,” said Lowen. “Then I gave it all that I had.”
The Joe Marten Award is honoured to those who have worked the ranges and continue to preserve the Western heritage in BC.
Finishing off the weekend’s festivities, was the crowning of this year’s Rising Stars. In the poetry division, BC’s Rae-Lee Fraser of Barriere, BC took home first place and the $1000 grand prize. The Rising Star competition is a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work and gain exposure to the Western performance scene.
For more information on the 2013 Kamloops Cowboy Festival and its extensive list of entertainers and award recipients, go to www.bcchs.com.