Brian Wallace leads young Ava through one of the trails on Belle Mountain. It’s areas like this the Robson Valley Chapter of the Backcountry Horsemen would like to showcase by hosting events like the annual Rendezvous. /SUBMITTED

By Andrea Arnold

The annual gathering of members of Backcountry Horsemen from 18 chapters across the province will be held at the Valemount Rodeo grounds on May 24-26th.

Brian Wallace, founder of the Robson Valley Chapter and one of the co-chairs for the event says that one of the purposes behind hosting such a large event is to showcase the Robson Valley.

“Some people will come early, or stay longer and explore further,” he said. “The idea is to get people together, ride trails and get to know the area. We want to bring more people to the Robson Valley.”

Eileen MacDonald oversees and coordinates the volunteers needed for the weekend. She said that prior to the main event a work bee is scheduled in April to clean up the rodeo grounds and they expect to have members from across the province travel to take part in that as well.

Over the course of the weekend, they will hold several members-only events such as their annual general meeting and a dinner/dance. But there is also opportunity for members of the public to come check out what they are all about.

Wallace said that if there are still weekend passes available on March 16th, sales will be open to the public. However, weekend passes for members went on sale on Feb 15th and they are almost sold out.

Day passes are available at the gate to anyone interested in coming for the day on Saturday (10am-4pm) and checking out some of the events. Day visitors are welcome to participate in the poker ride, as long as they are Horse Council membership holders so they are covered for insurance.

For those attending the whole weekend, there will be corrals provided, and space to camp. Horses are not required to have fun though, the pair agreed.

“This year we have some experienced pack horse guides that will provide not only visual training sessions teaching how to prepare for a pack trip but also more hands-on experience,” said Wallace. “Participants will go through the steps of preparation and loading then head out on a short excursion. Once they reach their destination, they will unpack and learn how to secure the horses by hobbling and other important information to equip people for trail adventures.”

Some of the events that people are invited to come check out using a day pass include Cowboy poetry, a Dutch oven cooking workshop and a Cowboy Challenge, similar in style to the one held at the Calgary Stampede, and a market area. There will also be a food truck and several local artist booths, along with some bigger commercial companies on Saturday.

Some local businesses have provided items for their silent auction and some have even offered discounted experiences for weekend pass holders.

Wallace and MacDonald, on behalf of the Robson Valley Chapter, are appreciative of all the community support they have been shown. Not only towards this large event, but as the club has grown and continues to grow.