The Williams Lake Stampede knows we would not be where we are today without the special commitment of our community. Each year we honor our Lifetime Member – a person or persons who has extensively contributed to the success, longevity, and sustainability of the Williams Lake Stampede in their own unique way.
We are so proud to recognize our 2019 Lifetime Members, Bev & Daryl Williamson
2019 LIFETIME MEMBERS:
Bev & Daryl Williamson
By Monica Lam-Yorski
It is the ‘down-home’ non-commercialized feel of the rodeo that 2019 Lifetime Pass Recipients love about the Williams Lake Stampede. Bev and Daryl Williamson said they made good friends through volunteering at the Stampede. “Every year people come back — some come from out of town to volunteer for the weekend,” Daryl said. “It’s kind of cool to see that.” Their parents volunteered, and they both started volunteering when they were younger. As a couple they continued to volunteer from 1980 up until 2017 and only ever missed one rodeo — that was in 1997 when one of their sons was in a serious accident.
Bev said the amount of “wonderful” people they meet over the weekend is unbelievable. “They’ve always got so many positive things to say. We get so many guests from Europe, from down in the States. There’s one fellow that comes from San Bernardino. He only buys one ticket so he doesn’t make or break the Williams Lake Stampede but he comes every year. He has a little island that he owns out on Horsefly Lake.”
Bev even worried about some of the regulars if she did not see them arriving to buy a ticket and hoped they were doing OK. “If we communicated with people online, often they’d bring us bottles of wine from Germany, or other gifts,” she added. Smiling, Daryl said Bev would get calls in September and October from people telling her they will need tickets. “As soon as she’d open the office, she’d run and pull the tickets. It was neat to listen to her telling me she’d got another call from Germany or somewhere else.”
A lot of Europeans believe they have to go to the Calgary Stampede first, Bev said. “They come to Williams Lake and then think, ‘oh my, I can actually see what a cow looks like or a horse looks like,’ because they can see the events.”
Daryl said the Animal Athlete Tour hosted by C+ Rodeos is always popular.
“When the Call brothers put on their talk about the different events, down there behind the chutes, people come and say ‘oh man, I never knew about that.’”
Bev arrived with her family in the lakecity in 1967 when they moved from Burns Lake. Her dad, Kurt Gustafson worked for Williams Lake Motors downtown and then owned a Texaco Station where Barking Spider is located today near the intersection of Highways 97 and 20. “Then he bought Gustafson’s Dodge where it is now. My dad has sold it to my brother Kari, but he is still in the key dealership every day.
Bev first began hanging around the Stampede as a young teenager. She and a girlfriend would sell 50 cent tickets for entrance into the grounds. “We would take the money and did that for quite a few years to make our summer money. I think we made $4 a day. It was $16 by the end of the weekend and we thought we’d died and gone to heaven.”
When her mom, Jane, retired from owning her clothing store, the Chic Boutique, she volunteered by running the Stampede office. “I started volunteering in May and June, but I didn’t work over Stampede, I just took in the events with our family. Then Jim Byer convinced me to run as a director and I stayed on for 16 years and I ran the office selling the tickets.”
Daryl’s father, Harry Williamson, moved the family to Williams Lake in 1978. “Dad had a blacktop company and we started paving from the end of the four lanes to Hinche Road. We did a lot of paving here.” During their first year in the lakecity, they did some work at the Stampede camp ground so that was his introduction to the rodeo. “I started volunteering and loved it. I met so many great people here.”
The only rodeo the Williamsons missed since they were married was in 1997 when their son was in a serious accident. “We never watched many because we were busy working, but we’d run and check,” Daryl said. “My dad had a box in the VIP seating. He was the one that spearheaded building those box seats.”
Daryl’s dad would shut the business down for the weekend and tell everyone on Stampede Weekend “we don’t work, we go to the Stampede.”
When Bev became a director, Daryl became even more involved, running the beer garden with Lorne Doerkson. “When you become a director, your spouse becomes part of it as well,” Bev said.
In 1980, Harry bought the 150 Mile Ranch, Daryl said, noting his dad died in 2001 and they sold the ranch, but they still live near there. “I am my own contractor,” he added. “I have a small excavator and I just do private jobs. I call it semi-retired.” They also lease out their property to a rancher who brings in cattle.
They have three children: Jason lives in Kelowna, Jeremy in Vernon and Jennifer in Williams Lake. By the time Stampede weekend rolls around they will have seven grandchildren. “Our oldest son is expecting another one,” Daryl said. These days they are spending more time with their grandchildren and 2019 will be the second year they have not signed up to be directors.
As for the Cariboo, it’s friends and family and quietness of the area that keeps them here. “It’s a good place to be from,” Bev said. “Our roots are here,” Daryl added. Their dads Kurt Gustafson and Harry Williamson were named lifetime pass recipients as well.