Cowboys and Drovers and song, oh my! Barkerville celebrates cattle-drive culture September 6th to 8th

From the earliest 19th-century goldfield cattle-drives to the square dance fervor of the 1940s and ‘50s, Barkerville has been proud to play venue to more than 100 years of cowboy culture. This September 6th to 8th, the National Historic Site will once again honour a century of cowboy music, spoken word, and dance at Barkerville’s annual Cowboy and Drover Jubilee.

“Cowboy poetry and music grew out of a tradition of improvised entertainment carried on by people on cattle drives and ranches in the mid to late-1800s,” said James Douglas, Barkerville’s Manager of Visitor Experiences. “After a day of hard work these drovers, or cowboys as we call them today, would gather around a campfire and entertain one another with stories, folk songs, and acoustic music.”

The weekend-spanning Jubilee starts Friday, September 6th with registration for the 3rd annual “Northern Star” amateur singing competition (sponsored by Prince George radio’s 97fm The Wolf) available from 9:30am until 3:00pm at Barkerville’s Visitors’ Reception Centre, along with general information about Jubilee activities.

An informal “welcome” party at the House Hotel Saloon kicks off Friday at 7:00 pm, with open-mic music and several special guest performances slated throughout the evening. Admission to the party is free (as is entrance to Barkerville after 3:00 pm) and food and beverage will be available for purchase at the House Hotel.

“Northern Star” registration will also be available from 9:30am until noon at the Visitor Reception Centre on Saturday, September 7th, and at 11:00 am an official Jubilee opening ceremony will take place near the big canvas tent at the front end of town.

Under that same tent from 11:15 am until noon the Jubilee fun will warm up with a round of cowboy poetry and guests are encouraged to take the stage with poems of their own – if the spirit takes them.

From Saturday noon until 4:00 pm there will also be a full slate of musical performances by familiar cowboy troubadours like Bud Webb, Allen Christie, Ed Wahl, and Gordie West, as well as a variety of special guests like Joey Only, the Hanson Family, and inaugural “Northern Star” winner Terry Wozney at three different Jubilee stages – Barkerville’s Methodist Church, Kelly Saloon, and the House Hotel.

The official “finals” of the “Northern Star” competition will take place at 4:15 pm on Saturday at the Methodist Church, and the winner will be invited to participate in a Cowboy and Drover Showcase revue and boot-stompin’ cowboy dance and sing-along featuring all of Barkerville’s musical guests, starting at 8:00 pm at the House Hotel Saloon and going ‘til late.  Barkerville’s Theatre Royal will perform its wildly popular 1940s live musical “radio show” WCFB: On Air at 7:00 pm for those visitors looking for an extra treat before heading across the street to the House Hotel Saturday night, and everyone will have a chance to repent their evening of suds and sin at 11:00 am on Sunday, September 8th, when Gordie West hosts a “Cowboy Church” service at St. Saviour’s, built in 1869.

“Whether you ride, play, sing, dance, or just like to whoop it up on the trail from time to time, Barkerville is the place to be September 6th to 8th,” said Douglas. “Thanks in large part to a dedicated group of cowboy culture enthusiasts, Barkerville’s Cowboy and Drover Jubilee is a great addition to our fall season, and we’re looking forward to this year’s event.”

For more information about Barkerville’s annual Cowboy and Drover Jubilee, or any of the National Historic Site’s seasonal special events, please visit www.barkerville.ca/events.htm.

Barkerville Cowboy photo by Thomas Drasdauskis