Bob and Shirley Breitkreutz can’t count the number of hours they have volunteered for the Williams Lake Stampede Association, but its all been time happily spent. “We’ve had a lot of fun in here over the years and worked with lots of great volunteers,” Bob says.
Bob, who is receiving a lifetime pass this year, has served two terms as Stampede president, and four years as treasurer. He also served several terms as vice-president and concession director during which time he was one of the driving forces behind construction of the office and concession building behind the chutes. Bob actually started volunteering with the Stampede Association because Shirley had become a Stampede volunteer in the mid-1980s. By 1990 friends were encouraging Bob to get involved as well. Before that his job as a feller-buncher logging contractor kept him away from home a lot.
Shirley started out pre-selling rodeo tickets and Stampede merchandise and working in the office for a few years before moving over to the concession where Bob joined her as the grill cook. Cooking was no problem for Bob because he grew up in a household with three brothers who had all been taught to cook early on by their mother.
In those days the concession behind the chutes was a cook trailer rented from the Lions Club for the Stampede weekend. A refurbished stock trailer supplied with electricity housed the fridge and freezer and other produce and supplies. While it might have been a makeshift solution to supplying food for cowboys and volunteers on the run , it was a spic and span operation because most of the volunteers in those days were hospital and health care employees, Shirley says. Construction of the office and concession building started in 1999 and was completed in 2001 . It was a huge job involving professional builders to set the foundation and frame up the building and many volunteers to do all of the interior finishing . “It was a lot of work,” Bob says. “We started in the fall and finished four days before Stampede. ” The concession was completed about the same time as the association was developing the Stampede campground, so they decided to open up the infield concession to the general public. “We were cooking for rodeo competitors and volunteers anyway so we started inviting the public to come and join us,” Bob says. Since then use of the concession has grown steadily to accommodate five or six events during the year. Bob ran the concession for many years but stepped down as a director a few years ago turning over the job to Kelly Braaten.
As a director, Bob says there are jobs to be done all year long. These days Bob and Shirley continue to help out with the concession. They are well prepared ahead of time so people don ‘t have to wait long for service . It’s never dull. The Stampede has some pretty dedicated volunteers and without them it wouldn’t happen.
Photo and story by Gaeil Farrar.