(This story is sponsored by the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair)
Famous as one of the West Coast’s longest-running and most-loved traditions, the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair gives its fans two extra-special reasons to celebrate in 2023.
The first is that the celebration marks its 75th anniversary over four long-weekend days from May 19-22. The second is that Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair is officially back, making a triumphant return after a three-year pandemic-era absence that included upgrades to the Cloverdale Fairgrounds’ 5,000-seat Stetson Bowl in 2022.
Over 77,000 people attended the fair when it was last held in 2019, making it among the biggest family events in Western Canada. This year once again has something for everyone, whether it’s rodeo showcases for the traditionalists, games and rides for the kids, musical entertainment, or the new Wild Vines Garden featuring everything from craft beers and local wines to charcuterie boxes and a traveling tea party.
On the rodeo front, nearly 100 professional cowgirls and cowboys are headed to the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair for competitions, taking place in five different pools over the four days, that range from bull riding and barrel racing to bareback and saddle bronc riding.
Keeping the bull riders safe while providing additional entertainment—and, occasionally, comedic relief—will be professional rodeo clowns. And, because nothing goes better with cowgirls, cowboys, and horses than classic bluegrass and Americana, four-time BC Country Music Awards winner Tianna Lefebvre—who’s appeared with the likes of Shania Twain—will perform between events.
As always, Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair isn’t just about what’s happening in the ring in the rodeo competition.
Shaping up to be one of the highlights of this year is the Longhorn Saloon, which offers up a gold rush of country music with live performances. Those scheduled to take the stage include Juno-winning Canadian icon George Canyon, Victoria’s high-energy Tumblin’ Dice, roots-rockabilly unit the Promised, and outlaw-country renegades Six Gun Romeo. The entertainment at the Longhorn Saloon doesn’t stop with the full slate of musical acts. Also on tap will be wrestling matches, including WWF legend Carlito, with professionals climbing into the ring doing battle with ankle locks, vertical suplexes, punt kicks, and piledrivers on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Given all that’s going on at the Longhorn, checking out the Beat the Line option when you buy tickets online is a smart option.
When you’re spending all day at the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair you’re going to have to eat, and you’re covered this year with over 40 on-site food trucks. One of the event’s perennial favourites, the Cowboy Rib Fest featuring multiple pitmasters will be back by popular demand, after which you can work off lunch or dinner by dancing to live performances at the fair’s free outdoor entertainment stage.
Not every skilled rider at the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair will be on a horse. Taking place on the floor of the Cloverdale Curling Rink, and featuring a $17,000 prize pool, the World Freestyle Roundup Skateboarding Championships will feature professional and amateur freestyle demos and a battle format, with DJs providing the music. Among the competitors will be Andy Anderson, who represented Canada at the 2020 Toyko Olympics and is one of the best freestyle skateboarders in the world.
For the little ones, the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair provides ample opportunity to get up close with the animals. One of the fair’s most popular attractions each year, Farm Friendz not only puts the spotlight on every farmer’s favourite animals, but also includes showcases like cow milking. The Buckaroo barn, meanwhile, has everything from a LEGO Land building station to kid-friendly rides to ring toss and basketball.
For as long as there have been country fairs there have been rides and games for the whole family. Look forward to over 35 rides, for kids and adults, at this year’s Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair, with concession games including ones where you are guaranteed to get a prize no matter how off-target you might be with your throwing, rolling, or casting. Maximize your fun with an all-day wristband.
Speaking of fun, there’s a good reason the West Coast Lumberjack Show has been a crowd-pleasing mainstay in these parts since 1982. Expect, as always, log-rolling, axe throwing, hot-saw races, and plenty of audience interaction. Just watch for the crowd, and listen for the laughter, not to mention the oohs and awws.
Offering both an education and an entertainment experience, and hosted by both Waceya Metis Society and the Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society, the Indigenous Village will have multiple components. Designed to showcase the history and traditions of Canada’s First Nations peoples, the village will have an arts and crafts marketplace, spotlighted performances from Indigenous dancers and artists, and a bannock truck specializing in traditional foods.
Something for everyone? That is indeed the case with the 2023 Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair, which is not only happy to be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, but thrilled to be back as a West Coast institution.