For many decades thousands of rodeo fans have enjoyed the socializing and all the roaring action of the Ponoka Stampede from the comfortable confines of the Long Score Saloon, located on the east side of the main grandstand. This rustic and friendly facility has also played host to hundreds of community functions such as reunions, staff parties, barbecues, the annual Challenge Rodeo and on and on.
The Ponoka Stampede Association over the years have strived to make countless additions and improvements to the grounds and facilities since the humble beginnings of the organization and first Stampede and Fair way back in 1936. These ongoing changes have included new grandstands, barns, buildings, fences, a campground, new racetrack and many others that have all complimented a thrilling mid-summer family event that has now become one of the largest in the vastly popular world of rodeo.
In order to keep up with the overwhelming popularity of our annual Ponoka Stampede, and in appreciation of the excellent support of their ardent fans, volunteers and community the Ponoka Stampede Association have just begun construction on a spacious new steel building that will accommodate the Long Score Saloon and many other attractions and events both during, before and after the July Long weekend fling.
Long standing Ponoka Stampede Association member and avid rodeo supporter Frank Mickey recalls the early days of the Stampede, when the wide open wooden grandstands were always filled to capacity, with fans also lining the fences around the infield to take in all the action of the big two day show.
“In 1969-70 there was an open air sit down patio in the area, then in 1972 the first beer garden was set up on the grounds, and in 1994 it was transformed into the popular Long Score Saloon,” Mickey explained.
The new 70 by 140 foot building, which will be completed before the 2009 Stampede, is being constructed under the direction of Dwayne Stretch at a cost of $750,000. Interior amenities will include new washrooms, two new food booths and fully modern equipment, a sound stage for the entertainment, and lots of tables-chairs and dancing space. There will also be booth space allotted during Stampede week on either side of the building for the popular Ponoka United Church and Anglican Church booths, as well as the traditional open viewing area on the south side to allow fans to be right next to all the infield action and only a few feet away from the thrilling home-stretch dash of the wagon races.
As always, after the Stampede week the new Long Score Saloon will be available for businesses, organizations, and individuals to book their own special community functions. This latest phase of the ongoing upgrades of the Ponoka Stampede grounds will be partially funded by a Government grant, as well as from the profits of the annual rodeo over the next 10 years. Please watch for more exciting announcements about the forthcoming 2009-73rd annual Ponoka Stampede, including new attractions for the whole family.