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Cloverdale Rodeo elects first female president

Stetson Bowl repairs complete; new prez says planning for 2023 rodeo ‘well under way’
Gerry Spielmacher, outgoing Cloverdale Rodeo Exhibition Association president, addresses rodeo members at the association’s AGM Sept. 20. Kathy Sheppard, left, was voted in as the association’s new—and first female—president. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

The Cloverdale Rodeo has its first female president.

Kathy Sheppard was elected to be president by the board after the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association held its annual AGM Sept. 20.

“Big shoes to fill,” Sheppard said after the vote. “I’m excited and overwhelmed.”

Sheppard, who’s been on the board since 2020, is the first woman to fill the post in the long history of the association.

Sheppard said the first order of business for her and the board will be to hire an event coordinator to assist in planning the next rodeo, scheduled for May long weekend of 2023.

“We need to get the contract finalized and signed,” noted Sheppard. “We’d like to have it done before the end of the year.”

Sheppard said they’ve narrowed a list of 40 candidates down to 10 and they’ll be starting final interviews soon.

“In terms of rodeo planning, basically the executive will sit down with the coordinator and let them know what we’ve done in the past and we’ll have them present to us what they plan on bringing to the 2023 rodeo,” she explained. “Planning for next year is well under way.”

Sheppard said the executive have a lot of new ideas for next year’s rodeo, but she was tight-lipped about exactly what those are.

“The grounds are always changing,” she explained. “Our footprint here is fluid. So, depending on what we have available, the available space will determine where we put our events.”

Sheppard said any new events or big changes to the rodeo will be announced as each change is finalized.

She noted George Canyon will be at the Cloverdale Rodeo next year. Canyon signed to play the 2020 rodeo before it was cancelled.

“Because of COVID, we weren’t able to bring him in, but we were able to secure him for (2023),” Sheppard added “We have a couple of other ideas, so as soon as they are confirmed, we going to hype them.”

Rounding out the rodeo board executive, Rick Hugh was voted in as first-vice president, Tania Smythe was voted in as second vice-president, and Michael Cook returns as treasurer.

Past-president Gerry Spielmacher said it was the right time for him to step away from the presidency and the board. (Although he is staying on in a limited capacity as an advisor after the board voted to create the new title of “mentor past president” just for him).

“I feel we’ve done a good job here, but it’s time to transfer over to the younger people,” Spielmacher explained. “They’ll get the job done. There’s a good group of board members here that will move forward with the fair and the rodeo.”

Spielmacher cited his age and years on the board as the impetus behind his decision not to stand for reelection.

“I’ve done my part and you can only go for so long,” Spielmacher said. “I’m getting up there in age. And it’s not like I’m a spring chicken running around here all over the Fairgrounds.”

Spielmacher was honoured for his years of service to the association with a lifetime membership. Former president Shannon Claypool, who recently put on the Valley West Stampede in Langley, nominated Spielmacher for the lifetime membership and it was passed unanimously.

SEE ALSO: Thousands turn out for Langley’s first-ever pro rodeo

Spielmacher doesn’t see any hiccups on the horizon that could derail a 2023 rodeo. He’s 100 per cent confident the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair will take place in 2023.

“We’re good to go. We were ready last year,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the Stetson Bowl (not being structurally sound) and COVID yet, we would have probably went forward. All the contracts that we have out there, they’ve been extended through to ’23. So, we have a lot of stuff in place right now.”

Councillor Doug Elford, who represents the City of Surrey on the rodeo board, announced at the AGM that repairs to the Stetson Bowl were completed very recently.

“The city invested a fair amount of money to get it up and running,” Elford told the Cloverdale Reporter after the meeting. “According to the engineering report, there were a lot of structural issues.”

Elford said those issues weren’t complicated, just a lot of little problems, such as key structural pieces being rusted out and a lot of other little things that added up to one big job.

With the Stetson Bowl repairs complete, Elford also said he doesn’t see anything standing in the way of a 2023 rodeo.

“We’re looking forward to 2023,” added Elford. “Barring another COVID attack, it’s all systems go. I think this town has really missed it the last couple of years. We need it back and council fully supports it.”

Four new board members were appointed by acclamation at the AGM after only four members were nominated to fill open board spots.

Winning board seats via acclamation were: Scott Wheatley, Cindy Herbstreit, Todd Lamberton, and Kathy Sheppard.

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Malin Jordan

About the Author: Malin Jordan

Malin is the editor of the Cloverdale Reporter.
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