The Ponoka Stampede is revelling this week after winning a prestigious honour in the Canadian rodeo world.
On Monday, Oct. 19, the event was named as the Large Rodeo of the Year winner by Pro Rodeo Canada.
“We have won this several times in the past, but it remains a great honour to win as it is voted on by the cowboys – the competitors – who come here,” said Blair Vold, Ponoka Stampede vice-president, in a phone interview.
“They like our format, the stock, our grounds – just the whole atmosphere that gets put together here.”
Vold added there are several reasons he believes the cowboys voted for Ponoka in 2015.
“Our rodeo has the largest prize money up for grabs on the CPRA (Canadian Pro Rodeo Association) circuit,” he said.
“We are also one of the largest rodeos in the country and among the five largest in the world. The cowboys also love our format, with our finals and the showdown, that keep everything very exciting for them as well as the crowd.
“Combine those things with the best stock in Canada that we bring in for the competitiors and it’s easy to see how everyone loves to come to Ponoka.”
And while the accollades come to the committee, Vold was quick to explain that they are an extremely small part of what makes the Stampede the success it continues to be.
“It’s not just the committee, but the town and the county really work hard with us to ensure everything is done to run smoothly,” he stated.
“However, the more than 700 volunteers that come out each year are the backbone that makes this event what it is and that’s the big reason behind what makes the Stampede succeed. It would be very hard to do this without any of those volunteers.”
Vold added one other thing that helps is the committee is continually looking to find ways to improve the event and that begins from the moment the Stampede ends.
“We start planning the next one right after the last one is over,” he explained, “And that means looking at everything for something to improve on – it’s all part of looking at the big picture and that’s also probably part of why the cowboys like the Stampede.”