Nicola Valley Rodeo Grounds to become a venue for local events.

During their annual general meeting on Feb. 29, the Nicola Valley Rodeo Association (NVRA) discussed the last financial year and the future of the Nicola Valley Rodeo Grounds.

Treasurer Gert Leslie announced during the meeting that it was the NVRA’s best financial year ever, highlighting that this year saw the most rentals, largest pro-rodeo crowd in over four years. NVRA president Peter Spencer noted “old timers said they haven’t seen a crowd like that at the rodeo for 20 to 30 years.”

Spencer also noted that the budget for the pro-rodeo has more than doubled since 2018 from approximately $82,000 to $170,000 in 2024, attributing the year’s financial success to an effective marketing campaign, placing advertisements in horse magazines, local radio stations, and newspaper.

The rodeo grounds have been booked by B.C. Cutting Horse Association, two weddings, and a reception with international guests. “One of the major industries in town booked us last fall for a reception for international guests that were visiting the city,” said Spencer. “They asked us if we could put on a mini rodeo, but what we did was put on a demonstration of summer rodeo events.”

Spencer also noted that the rodeo grounds were used as shelter during the floods and wildfires.

“There were many ranches and residents who had to vacate their properties, and we opened up the grounds for people with livestocks or if people didn’t have a place to go,” recounted Spencer. “(We’ve had) three separate instances where we opened the grounds up free for the public, to be used for emergency purposes and I think that’s quite something for a volunteer group to be able to do that.”

Moving forward, the NVRA has a long term plan to make the 22 acre rodeo grounds adaptable to a wider variety of events, investing $500,000 into various upgrades for the facility and stating in a press release the site has “great potential beyond simply rodeo and equine events, as a community facility.”

The NVRA is currently waiting for weather conditions to improve to begin converting a metal shed at the entrance into an entry plaza. The shed currently holds the NVRA’s tractors and various equipment but will be converted to look like a building out of the wild west with the conversion costing approximately $65,000.

During the annual general meeting, Spencer was reelected president for the third consecutive year. Under Spencer’s leadership, he hopes to lead the organization forward to complete the transition into an event venue.

“It’s really not me at all,” said Spencer. “It’s all of the board of directors and the volunteers who help out because there’s a lot of people that are involved with the organization that aren’t on the board but have been enthusiasts of the Association for years and continue to help us on a regular basis.”