Tony Alcand’s eyes well up with pride and a giant smile spreads across his face as he starts talking about the Royal Canadian, Mounted Police Musical Ride.
“It makes you so proud to be Canadian and it is precision riding at its best,” said the Okanagan Falls man who will be the master of ceremonies and announcer on Saturday when the ride comes to the South Okanagan Events Centre for two shows. “It is a point of pride and as a Canadian, it is the coolest thing you can see. I was in Lake Chelan watching it and the Americans were amazed by it. It gives you that extra boost and the maple leaf just pops right out of your chest.”
A former rodeo announcer, Alcand has been involved with bringing the show to the area when they pass through B.C. every four years. He acted as MC when they trotted through Osoyoos 16 years ago, followed by Penticton, Oliver and Summerland most recently. Because of his connection to the South Okanagan, Alcand got the Summerland Rodeo Grounds Equine Development Committee to sponsor the event. All proceeds from the two shows will go toward the fundraising effort to improve the rodeo grounds, which are owned by the municipality and maintained by the Summerland parks and recreation department. Gwen Shaw, president of the rodeo grounds committee, said their vision is to have an indoor covered arena.
“This is a place for all of the public to use, not just for horses. We think of it as a multi-purpose facility to hold any kind of events such as weddings, family gatherings, retreats, rodeo clinics, dog training and concerts. The improvements we have made so far are starting to bring people around it and it is a huge tourism draw. We would love to open up camping sites geared towards horse people with a corral built right there and they can head out on marked trails into the mountains. There is a big demand for that. I have seen other places in B.C. do just that and they are always full,” said Shaw, adding a bull-riding event will be featured in August with more details to come.
In addition to the showpiece of Saturday, which features 32 horses and riders demonstrating a variety of skills set to music, there will also be an RCMP dog demonstration, Clydesdales demonstration by Harv and Eleanor Brown of Summerland, and Hearts of the West, they are a family of trick riders from Alberta. The five siblings will show off their horsemanship skills with trick roping, whip cracking, Roman riding and tricks full of speed and excitement.
Tickets for the Musical Ride at the SOEC, with shows at 2 and 7 p.m., are $20 for adults and $17 for students (7 to 18) and seniors (64 and older). For children 6 and under, tickets are free (service fees for online and phone purchases apply) when purchased in person.
Tickets can be purchased at www.ValleyFirstTix.com, by telephone at 1-877-SOEC-TIX (763-2849) or in person at the Valley First Box Office (at the SOEC) and Wine Country Visitor Centre.