Auctioneer Dan Skeels can be seen behind this bid taker's hand while WPCA driver Kurt Bensmiller watches on. Bensmiller brought in $18

Ponoka Stampede tarp auction brings big bidders

The Ponoka Stampede tarp auction continues to bring the biggest names in the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) to town.

The Ponoka Stampede tarp auction continues to bring the biggest names in the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) to town.

Not only the drivers and riders, but also the companies that want to showcase those drivers on the WPCA circuit, converged on Ponoka May 5 at the Stagecoach Saloon, which saw three drivers each take a top bid of $18,000: Kurt Bensmiller for West Industrial, Chad Harden for Image Distributors and Troy Dorchester for Team Rig and Supply/PureChem Services.

The next highest bid went to Rick Fraser for Friends of Team 23 at $14,000.

Ponoka Stampede president Blair Vold has always enjoyed the auction, which paves the way for six nights of chuckwagon racing. “What an opportunity with all the fans we’ve got. It puts a lot of the sponsors together with the chuckwagon families and the chuckwagon drivers.”

“It’s a real heritage deal that we’ve been a part of for many years,” said Vold.

Before the big sale started a print of this year’s Stampede Poster, which features legendary Ponoka cowboy Bud Butterfield, went up for auction. While folks hoped for a chance to get the print, it was his family who ensured the winning bid on the poster.

With 80,000 tickets sold on average each year, Ponoka has become a real draw for the western heritage sport but also for the fast action that comes with the races.

Chuckwagon races didn’t come to Ponoka until the 1940s, explained Vold, but before that fans were able to watch Roman riding and chariot races, which eventually built up to the WPCA races. He also pointed out that there are quite a few racers who have made a family affair of the experience, the Sutherland, Dorchester, Flad and Gorst families to name a few.

Miss Ponoka Stampede Michele Greer and Jadey van der Vlis

Another celebration of the night was the official crowning of Michele Greer as Miss Ponoka Stampede for 2017. She takes over the crown from Jadey van der Vlis who held the crown as Miss Ponoka Stampede 2016.

Sutherland charity race

After decades of racing in the WPCA this will be Kelly Sutherland’s last year.

To commemorate his many years of racing a special one-of-a-kind race is being held the first Tuesday of the Stampede, explained Vold. Right after the rodeo performance Kelly will race with Kirk, Mark and grandson Dayton. Three generations of Sutherlands racing together for one race only.

“You’ll never see this race again in Ponoka,” said Vold.

“It’ll be a pretty special night. You’ll get to see history in the making.”

A special tarp auction was held right after the main auction, which raised $23,000 for the event. The Sutherlands announced they are donating half of the proceeds to the Ponoka Festival of Trees and the other half to their Pacekids program in Calgary.

Full auction results:

Kurt Bensmiller West Industrial $18,000

Chad Harden Image Distributors $18,000

Troy Dorchester Team Rig and Supply/PureChem Services $18,000

Rick Fraser Friends of Team 23 $14,000

Obrey Motowylo H and E Oilfield Services Ltd. $13,000

Codey McCurrach King Oilfield $12,000

Kelly Sutherland Red Deer Motors $12,000

Blaid Flad Compass Access Solutions Ltd. $12,000

Troy Flad Ironwood Building Corp. $10,500

John Walters Pidherney’s $10,000

Luke Tournier Eagle Builders $9,500

Mark Sutherland Vold Jones and Vold Auctions $9,000

Doug Irvine B and R Eckel’s Transport Ltd. $9,000

Mitch Sutherland Adams Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd. $9,000

Colt Cosgrave High River Autoplex and RV $8,500

Gary Gorst Big Valley Ranch $8,000

Cody Ridsdale Triple K Oilfield Services $8,000

Roger Moore Bobcat of Camrose/Ray’s Trailer Sales $7,500

Jason Glass Birchcliff Energy Ltd. $7,500

Dustin Gorst Flying Dust First Nation $7,500

Layne MacGillivray Camrose Glass and Overhead Doors $7,500

Kirk Sutherland Stagecoach Saloon $7,000

Jordie Fike Morskate Manufacturing $7,000

Darcy Flad Wetaskiwin Ready Mix $7,000

Vern Nolin Tunstone Venture Corp. $6,500

Chad Fike Safari Club International Calgary Chapter $6,500

Ross Knight The Kidz Wagon $6,500

Logan Gorst Sheer Luxury $6,000

Mike Vigen Big Valley Ranch $6,000

Cliff Cunningham Big Valley Ranch $6,000

Chanse Vigen Go Uncle Ben’s RV $6,000

Dayton Sutherland Midwest Pipelines Inc. $6,000

Layne Bremner Horseshoe Paving Ltd. $5,000

Evan Salmond Calnash Trucking $4,750

Curtis Morin Busted Ladies Lingerie $4,750

Jim Knight Arena Beer Gardens $4,500

The auction was $12,000 under last year’s total dollars.