Ponoka rodeo legend passes away
A born and raised Ponoka man who influenced rodeo for decades has passed away.
Harry Vold, who was born on a ranch near Ponoka in 1924, died peacefully in his sleep on March 13 at his home in Avondale, Colorado — about 90 kilometres southeast of Colorado Springs. He was 93 years old.
Known as the “Duke of The Chutes,” Vold will be remembered forever for his dedication and enjoyment of the sport of rodeo as well as for the work done with the Harry Vold Rodeo Company.
In a release on the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) website, Vold’s daughter Kirsten stated rodeo meant a lot to her father.
“My dad enjoyed rodeo more than anyone I know. He dedicated his life to the sport of rodeo and he believed in everything those four letters (PRCA) stood for. He passed away in his sleep like every good cowboy should,” she said.
“He’s made a lot of friends and done a lot of things in rodeo. I would say he had no regrets with how he spent his life because there’s nothing he would have rather have done than spend it in a rodeo arena on the back of a black horse, and he got to do that for many, many years.”
While Vold did attempt to compete, in bareback and saddle bronc, he had no ambition to be a full-time rodeo cowboy. Instead, his real interest was first in the horse and auctioneer business, followed by rodeo.
He would soon come to operate one of the largest rodeo stock companies in North America — now based in southern Colorado — one he operated until only a few years ago. The company not only produces rodeos south the border, but provides bucking stock for more than 100 rodeo performances annually and is just one of two contractors that has provided the stock for every one of the National Finals Rodeos held.
Some of the most acclaimed stock used in North America has come from the Vold stable, including the PRCA bronc of the year nine times, the 2010 saddle bronc of the year and bull of the year four times.
Vold’s breeding program, primarily with bucking horses, has led to seven animals being voted top bucking stock of the year – two of which have been repeat winners. Over the years, Vold stock has appeared at every major rodeo in the United States, and several in Canada.
“My philosophy is to put on the very best quality rodeo with top stock and top cowboys – wholesome family entertainment,” Harry once said.
In addition, Vold has seen many achievements come his way. That includes induction into the Pro Rodeo and Canadian halls of fame, a life member of the Ponoka Stampede, 11 time PRCA and two time World Professional Rodeo Association contractor of the year and induction into several rodeo halls of fame in the U.S. — one of which is the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
“I would hope people would remember that he was a true, loyal and honest friend,” said Kirsten, who will continue to run her father’s rodeo company.
A memorial service for Vold is scheduled to be held at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs on March 20 beginning at 1 p.m.
Viewing scheduled for March 20
On its Facebook page the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association has invited the community to a live stream at the Stagecoach Saloon of the Harry Vold memorial.
The live stream starts at 1 p.m.