Josh Michaud’s stage coach on the 2016 BIG GAP 100 wagon trek. Photo credit, Splitting Arrow Images
Volunteers from the East Central Housing Society will be hosting the 2nd Annual BIG Gap 100 Wagon Trek & Trail Ride on July 15, at the Gooseberry Lake Rodeo Grounds.
The committee has worked for over 10 years raising funds for the new Community and Seniors Recreation Centre located next to the new lodge in Consort. The centre is currently in use with seniors playing cards every Tuesday, and regular bookings for the conference room, main hall, commercial kitchen, and outdoor patio. Last year, the committee held the BIG GAP 100 commemorating the Big Gap Stampede that ran from 1916 – 1919 at the Big Gap in the Neutral Hills.
The range of hills with elevation up to 2,900 feet above sea level created a natural amphitheatre for the large outdoor show that featured wild rodeo events and elaborate wild-west plays. Nearly 15,000 people travelled up to 200 miles, and according to Betty Coulton’s ‘The Great Lone Land’, prominent guests included Premier of Alberta Charles Stewart, Minister of Agriculture Duncan Marshall, Mayor of Edmonton Joseph A. Clark, Ribstone MLA J.G. Turgeon, and Chief White Elk.
Even with a low population in the area, many local residents feel it is important to keep western heritage alive and through events like these, they are able to celebrate Canada’s rich history.
“Honestly, my favourite part was getting to ride through the hills on a horse for an entire day!” said 12-year-old Connor Warrington who also enjoyed having the opportunity to see a young local blacksmith forging during the 2016 BIG GAP 100 heritage events.
The Wagon Trek & Trail Ride Fundraiser will cover over 12 miles of scenic enjoyment beginning and ending at the Gooseberry Lake Rodeo Grounds. All riders must have signed waivers on file to be registered. These forms can be found online at biggap100.com.
A continental breakfast will be served before heading out, and a bag lunch or pre-ordered Subway lunch will be had on the trail. At 4 p.m. the concession and beer gardens will be open with supper being served from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The selection of western heritage events will continue into the evening. This year, includes a best period costume award, best homemade jam contest, bannock, butter, and ice cream, live music, ranch skills, demonstrations and more.
Pre-registration will take place from 7 – 9 p.m. on July 14, with the option of camping overnight, or from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. on July 15. Trail ride fees are $100 per adult, $50 per child 7 – 12, and 6 and under free. Western heritage events will begin at 3 p.m. on July 15, and can be registered for separately from the trail ride if necessary for $35 standard including heritage events and supper, $20 youth 7 – 12, and 6 and under free.
To register you can visit biggap100.com or call 1-403-577-3523 for further inquiries.
From left, Participants Connor Warrington and Brien Mouly on the 2016 BIG GAP 100 trail ride. Photo credit, Splitting Arrow Images