B.C. bids farewell to 25-year-old Kamloops Cowboy Festival

·1 min read

The annual musical event to celebrate Cariboo cowboy culture is hanging up its spurs after a quarter century.

Mark McMillan, the president of the B.C. Cowboy Heritage Society and the organizer of the Kamloops Cowboy Festival since its inception in 1997, says there are no plans to hold it from this year onward.

"It's time for a break," McMillan said to Doug Herbert, the guest host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

The festival, held over several days every March in the southern Interior city was cancelled last year due to COVID-19.

McMillan says before the pandemic the event was an annual get-together for friends and families from as far away as Vancouver Island, as well as Alberta and Saskatchewan.

"People are going to miss that [event]," he said.

Samantha Garvey/CBC
Samantha Garvey/CBC

As recently as 2019 and on its 25th anniversary, McMillan and his wife say they thought about discontinuing the festival due to issues with themselves and their volunteers.

"My wife took on partnership in a CPA firm, and she just doesn't have the time [to organize the festival]," he said. "The other reason is our volunteers are getting long in the tooth, and we felt that we were maybe asking a little too much [from them]."

Founded in June 1996, McMillan's B.C. Cowboy Heritage Society aims to promote preservation of the Cariboo cowboy history by organizing events such as the Cowboy Festival, and operating the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame at the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin in Williams Lake.

McMillan says nobody has yet shown interest in taking over the cowboy festival, but he is hoping the museum will.

Tap the link below to hear Mark McMillan's interview on Daybreak Kamloops: