The 17th Kamloops Cowboy Festival is officially underway, with return and first-time visitors coming from far and wide.
B.C. Cowboy Heritage Society president Mark McMillan, with a little help from Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake and rodeo queen Krystie Vipond, kicked off the event Friday morning.
This is Vipond's first time at the festival. She earned the trip after being crowned Queen of the B.C. High School Rodeo Association.
"It's really good. I like it," Vipond said after the festival's opening ceremonies at the Kamloops Convention Centre.
A Grade 12 student at Dawson Creek secondary, she is more than a rodeo queen, but also competes in rodeos in Canada and the United States.
Proficient at cutting, where a rider on horseback leads a single animal away from a cattle herd, and goat tying, the sport can be dangerous, said Vipond.
"It's scary at times, but if you're safe about it and proper, it's pretty good," she said.
To stay safe, Vipond makes sure her gear is "tight and proper" and works properly, she said. Good footwear is as important as warming up the horse before an event.
Back for their 10th year are Ken Ottoson and his wife, Linda Kelly. Kelly owns SweetWater Bronze in Kelowna and creates cowboy themed sculptures.
Kelly showed off her craft to a Daily News videographer while Ottoson explained his wife loves horses and the cowboy way. She's been sculpting for 20 years.
The couple enjoys coming to the festival. He said they've made friends among the dozens of vendors who also attend.
"We love it," said Ottoson.
The festival continues until Sunday.
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