2009 Lifetime Member
Graham Smith began his volunteer-career in1980 with the Fall Fair when it and the Stampede both operated under the umbrella of the Williams Lake Stampede & Exhibition Association.Each group had a board of directors; with one annual combined meeting and the members of each arm of the association volunteered at both events.That’s how Graham ended up, at his first Stampede (1980) – selling parking passes in the pouring rain for four days. He finished up with pneumonia, but thankfully it didn’t deter him from future volunteering. In 1982, he became a Fall Fair director, which he laughingly comments,‘which was sort of like the farm team for the Williams Lake Stampede board’.
1986 - 1st year as a Stampede director. Graham worked quietly in the background, fundraising.He spent many long evenings at Lucky’s Bingo Hall, usually arriving back home in the wee hours of the morning after dropping off Stampede’s share of the bingo profits with Marg Elliot. Smith acquired Stampede’s first casino license and spent countless hours filling out grant applications.
1991-1995 – took a sabbatical from directorship, but was still a valuable Stampede volunteer, taking on projects that elevated the event’s level of professionalism. He helped engineer a better grandstand sound system which enabled the clown and the announcer to interact verbally with the crowd. Smith also used his technical skill to provide music to the rodeo program, which he played for every rodeo performance.
1995 - led the quest for an official, professional logo for the Stampede (one that promoted the spirit and heritage of the rodeo), directed the publication of the new, glossy Williams Lake Stampede Guide (this magazine), introduced the firstever Stampede internet website and the toll-free Stampede information/ticket sales phone number.
1996 – Graham was re-elected as a director and spent 5 more years on the board working on rodeo promotion/advertising. Graham and his wife, Claudia traveled all over B.C. promoting the Williams Lake Stampede - the association and the Cariboo was lucky to have such enthusiastic, tireless supporters and volunteers. Congratulations to Graham - with thanks to Claudia, who he couldn’t have done it without!
2009 Lifetime Pass honoree, Kurt Gustafson is a pretty low-key, modest man. He had to be persuaded to accept this honour bestowed upon him by the Williams Lake Stampede Association, although it was well-deserved. Gustafson, who has been in the automotive business for more than fifty years, was chosen for his (and his family’s) role as a long-time sponsor and supporter of Stampede.
Gustafson’s Dodge – first, Kurt and son, Kerry (later joined by Daryl), has been one of our long-time rodeo sponsors and supporters (close to a quarter of a century); making financial donations and supplying the Dodge trucks for arena-use during the rodeo. For quite a few years, it was Kurt who drove the pick-up during the rodeo; driving the ‘cans’ (barrels) in and out of the arena for the barrel racing event. He says, “The rodeo has changed quite a bit over the years, and I would say that the caliber of the cowboy competitor’s and the bucking stock has improved a lot. I think rodeo is similar to other sports now in that young people receive better coaching and training early in their careers, allowing them to acquire a higher level of skill sooner. The rough stock is bred to buck now and it too, is better. I always enjoyed my role as the truck driver because it meant that I got to be there to watch the entire rodeo performance each day.” The whole Gustafson family supports our annual rodeo; the men, Kerry, Daryl and Kurt contribute as great sponsors while Kurt’s daughter, Bev Williamson is a Stampede director – one of our super volunteers, along with her husband, Daryl Williamson. Kurt’s late wife, Jane was also a long-time Stampede volunteer. Bev and her mom spent many rodeo seasons working together in the Stampede rodeo ticket/sales office all through May, June and on into July. Congratulations, Kurt and family. Although he has, theoretically, retired – you’ll still find Kurt at the office (Gustafson’s Kia) most days.