The Williams Lake Stampede is a year-round project for the dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. Each year we honor our Volunteer of the Year – a person or persons who has volunteered their time and contributed greatly to our Stampede.
We are so proud to recognize, remember, and celebrate the individual contributions of all of our Volunteers for the Year.
Volunteer of the Year: Lorne Doerkson
Lorne Doerkson is passionate about the Williams Lake Stampede, and is humbled by being recognized as this year’s Volunteer of the Year for the Williams Lake Stampede Association.
The longtime volunteer and past Williams Lake Stampede Association director isn’t quite sure exactly when he threw his hat in the ring to help organize and get things ready for the Lakecity’s biggest annual spectacle, but knows it’s been nothing but an enjoyable ride.
“I’ve seen our volunteers and how hard they all work,” Doerkson said. “There are probably dozens who deserve it more than me, in my opinion, but it’s quite an honour to be picked out of that group.”
Doerkson was born in New Westminster, but grew up in Salmon Arm. He arrived in Williams Lake around 2005 to takeover the position as publisher at the Williams Lake Tribune after working in the newspaper business in Salmon Arm, 100 Mile House and Prince George.
A bareback rider in the BC Rodeo Association in his formative years, it didn’t take Doerkson long to discover the family-like, welcoming atmosphere among those involved with organizing the Stampede.
“I love the rodeo,” he said. “I’m passionate about it, and I got pretty heavily involved right away when I came back here. I thought: ‘This is one of the biggest rodeos in Canada and I really want to be a part of it.’”
After working as a director with the WLSA for several years, Doerkson, under the tutelage of then Stampede Director Daryl Williamson and volunteer John Bullock, found his current ‘favourite thing to do during Stampede weekend’ among the hordes of rodeo fans looking to have a good time at the Let ‘R Buck Saloon following the daily rodeo action.
Williamson who, along with his wife, Bev, are this year’s Stampede Lifetime Pass Recipients, quickly showed Doerkson the ropes behind the bar at the Let ‘R Buck and Doerkson has been a mainstay at the local watering hole annually ensuring everything runs smoothly as upwards of 1,500 people go through the gates each night.
Doerkson said while he is ‘second in command’ at the Let ‘R Buck behind WLSA director Cindy Brady, the pair both do their best to make sure everyone has a safe, fun weekend.
“The best thing about being up there at the Let ‘R Buck is it’s the gathering spot of the Cariboo,” Doerkson said. “You see 1,000s of people come through there on the weekend. The entertainment is second to none and that continues today. It’s just a really great time, it’s always packed, always busy and year after year it gets bigger and bigger.”
Asked what he enjoys most about Williams Lake Stampede weekend, Doerkson said it’s by far the people, and the level of competition on display at the rodeo.
“I like seeing old friends and the local people, the level of competition we have,” he said. “This is the pinnacle of the sport and it happens right here in our little city. It’s incredible to watch how it’s grown by way of visitors to the Stampede Park, whether it’s at the campground, all the log work done around the grounds, you name it — it’s staggering.”
Doerkson credits the success, and the growth, of the Stampede to the hundreds of residents and volunteers who pour their hearts and souls into the event each year.
“Without question we have one of the nicest parks for this sport in all of B.C.,” he said. “And that’s thanks to everybody who volunteers.”
Doerkson added he’s already starting to get excited for this year’s Stampede and hopes to see everyone there.
-By Greg Sabatino
The love for her community is what keeps Miranda Doerkson coming back to volunteer at the Williams Lake Stampede year after year.
For years now, Miranda has volunteered her time and energy come Stampede weekend to Williams Lake’s annual event. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed as she has been named the Youth Volunteer of the Year for 2019 by the Williams Lake Stampede Association.
Miranda is a second year nursing student, studying at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, which she said she absolutely loves. When she becomes a full nurse she hopes to return to Williams Lake to better serve the community she loves and grew up in.
“I like the community because my dad always had me involved in the community and it just kind of stuck,” Miranda said. “It wasn’t just the Stampede it was everything.”
Her involvement with the Stampede started early through her father, former publisher of The Tribune and Stampede Director, Lorne Doerkson who got her involved shortly after he moved his family to the lakecity. He encouraged her to always be social and give back to the community, lessons that have become a part of who she is fundamentally.
When she would go and volunteer as a child with her sister she said she was always excited to go as “they always had fun jobs for us” like painting garbage cans or running food for the announcers. To this day, the way the Williams Lake Stampede utilizes children and youth volunteers remains one of her favorite aspects about the whole event, so much so she encourages those with children to bring them with them should they decide to volunteer.
What kept her involved past when her father made her go, however, was the people and the community that she found within the volunteers that make the Stampede happen year after year. Miranda said that she’s made friends “forever now” within the volunteers and views many of them as family. By her rough estimate, since the age of eight, she’s been involved in well over seven Stampedes and does her best to help out in some way every year.
She found out she’d been recognized for her commitment last month and said she couldn’t stop thanking the WLSA member who told her.
“I never even expected it. That’s the point of volunteering you’re not there with this goal of you getting something, you’re there because you just love everybody there, you love the event and you the love the town itself,” Miranda said. “I was just so happy, it felt good.”
Getting involved with something like the Stampede, for her, Miranda said gives her a sense of fulfillment and volunteerism is something she encourages anyone with the small-town-blues to give it a try.
-By Patrick Davies