by Kerstin Auer —

The Nicola Valley Rodeo Association (NVRA) is saddling up for its next chapter as it announced the completion of major upgrades to its electrical system. The project, led by local contractor and project manager Hack Electric, has been in the works for several years and was funded by a grant from the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP).

According to a press release by the NVRA, the upgrades include the addition of overhead lighting in multiple area of the rodeo grounds, enhanced power outlets for vendors and food trucks during events, a security system, as well as a new electrical room and 600 amp underground service.

Adding to this already impressive lineup is one more upgrade to help with both long term financial sustainability for the NVRA, as well as a sustainability for the environment. The addition of 36 solar panels – installed by local contractor SEI Logistics and mainly funded by Farm Credit Canada’s Argi-Spirit Fund – rounds out the project. Electricity generated from the solar panels feeds into the BC Hydro grid, and in turn results in credits to the NVRA’s Hydro account. 

Touting the upgrades as a game changer for both the rodeo association as well as the community, NVRA president Peter Spencer said: “The province’s help and encouragement in allowing us to carry out this very substantial upgrade really vaults our facility to one of the finest of its kind in B.C.”

According to the NVRA’s website their mission is to “promote, encourage, develop and protect opportunities for western and equine sports in the Nicola Valley, including producing an annual professional rodeo and to undertake activities which honour and support ranching and rodeo endeavours to preserve the western heritage of the Nicola Valley.” The association has also been working on its long-term plan to expand that mission and host an array of community activities that reach far beyond rodeo-themed events and bring a significant economic benefit to the Nicola Valley. 

“As a community, we’ve always been fortunate to have inherited this marvellous 22-acre site, which we share with the Fall Fair Association. It’s not often that non-profit, volunteer organizations own something like this,” added Spencer. 

“It happened through the vision, generosity, and hard work of a long list of Nicola Valley pioneers and members of this community. Now, we hope to capitalize on our legacy with improvements which not only make the grounds an excellent rodeo facility but also allow us to expand both the type of equine and agricultural activities and also promote displays, markets, camping, and even concerts.” 

The NVRA is well on its way to making that vision a reality, having hosted the High School and Little Britches Rodeos already this year, as well as a BC Cutting Horse Association Show and the four day BC Back Country Horseman Rendezvous that saw the rodeo facilities filled to the brim. Even more improvements to the grounds are scheduled to continue throughout the summer, and the events are just getting started. A second BC Cutting Horse Association Show is coming this weekend, along with a Merritt Chamber of Commerce Business after Business networking event on June 14. The Nicola Valley Kennel Club will have their popular annual dog show at the rodeo grounds from June 30 – July 3. Also in July is the Canadian Bluemoon Elvis Festival, hosted for the second time on NVRA grounds, from the 14th to the 16th. At the end of August it’s time to giddy up for the Ranch Rodeo, and Labour Day weekend will see the 63rd iteration of the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo. 

In addition to special events that draw in visitors from far beyond the Nicola Valley, the NVRA also makes sure the local cowboys and cowgirls get their fill of rodeo action and have a chance to further their skills. Open riding and open roping nights are organized as capacity allows; equestrian workshops and clinics complete the lineup, as the NVRA preserves and honours Western heritage while also galloping towards the future.

For more information about events and programs, and a chance to volunteer, visit