Some traditions never die in a town like Merritt.

The countdown has begun for what is considered one of the oldest running rodeos in British Columbia, as finishing touches are being added to the 63rd Annual Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo.

Scheduled to take place during Labour Day weekend, from September 1 to September 3, this year’s rodeo promises a captivating lineup of events that will keep rodeo lovers on the edge of their seats. 

The rodeo celebration kicks off with the big return of the rodeo western-themed parade on Friday, September 1, at 6:30 p.m., featuring local families in agriculture. Adrenaline junkies and rodeo enthusiasts will hold their breath on Saturday, September 2, as riders cling to raging bulls or bucking horses for the required eight seconds when the rodeo kicks off at 1 p.m.

Peter Spencer, president of the Nicola Valley Rodeo Association, defines the pro rodeo as “a festival celebrating the Western and ranch heritage of the Nicola Valley.”

“It’s much more than just simply what’s going on in the arena,” he said.

Spencer said that the main goal of the weekend-long event is to bring Merrittonians and neighbouring communities together to have a great time and rid themselves of some of the worries they have faced in the past, such as the 2021 flood and the wildfires.

“We felt it was important to show that we’re still here. We’re still capable of putting on a big show, and that which the people support, which the community supports,” he said. “I think each year there’s a different thing, but the last 2022 and 2023 (rodeo) is to demonstrate the resilience of the community and that the community is still very much together.”

Beyond the arena, the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo offers a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere that reflects and integrates the region’s landscape and culture. Attendees will be able to enjoy live music performed by local musician Ross Fairweather and Patrick Spencer and Coldwater Road before and after rodeo performances.

The event will also bring the Merritt and District Chamber of Commerce’s street market to the rodeo grounds on Saturday morning. There will be a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. and a cowboy church at 10 a.m.

Mary MacGregor, secretary and rodeo manager of the Nicola Valley Rodeo Association, said attendees can also expect big names in the rodeo world to participate at the event.

“Have Meged is coming, he’s a world champion. Jeremy Buhler is coming, Levi Simpson is coming,” she said. “Those are world champion team ropers.”

MacGregor also said that the 63rd annual pro rodeo will offer new attractions such as the ladies’ breakaway roping and the boy’s steer riding. 

She also said that there will be a special presentation daily at the end of the rodeo in memory of Ty Pozzobon, a beloved world-class bull rider from Merritt who took his own life in 2017.

“The bull riding this year is presented in memory of Ty Pozzobon,” MacGregor said. “Luke and Leanne Pozzobon, his parents, are going to be presenting a prize to the high point bull rider each day.” 

She also said Jayson Charters will be coming to the rodeo as the “mascot hype guy” after being absent for a few years. 

MacGregor hopes those who come to the event “enjoy the last weekend of the summer with your family and have a good time.”

“It (the rodeo) gives the community a chance to bond with the rural residents and people who make their living from the land in the Nicola Valley, along with the people who live in the city.” 


The 63rd Annual Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo

When: September 1 to September 3

Where: Nicola Valley Rodeo Grounds – 499 Lindley Creek Rd., Merritt, B.C.

Cost: From $15 to $65, buy tickets online,