Bison show popular in growing industry

Ponoka is set to welcome upwards of 150 bison industry professionals in the third annual Wildrose Bison Convention Show and Sale

The annual Wildrose bison sale will take place at Vold Jones and Vold Auction Mart

The annual Wildrose bison sale will take place at Vold Jones and Vold Auction Mart

Ponoka is set to welcome upwards of 150 bison industry professionals in the third annual Wildrose Bison Convention Show and Sale since the event took a seven-year hiatus.

After hosting 11 annual conventions before the break, the committee had become tired and there was no one able to step up to the plate at the time, explained Linda Sautner, office manager with Bison Producers of Alberta (BPA).

Then, devastation hit in the form of BSE, the mad cow disease outbreak. The United States government closed its border to all ruminants, including bison, although Sautner says there were never any Albertan bison affected.

“It really devastated a lot of different industries,” said Sautner. “We had a lot of producers leave the industry.”

Saunter also recalls many of those who stayed with bison had to find second jobs to make ends meet.

However, the convention was started three years ago by Marvin Moore of BPA, and the industry is making a comeback with a force.

Bison meat has become so popular that Alberta’s producers are now struggling to meet demand.

For the last three years the convention has attracted more than 150 patrons. “We’re really excited about this opportunity. It seems to grow a little bit more each year,” said Sautner.

She feels the convention is important for both stakeholders and producers to network and advance the industry through new technology. This year a session is offered on social media marketing tips.

The convention begins March 15 at 1 p.m. at Ponoka’s Royal Canadian Legion. The afternoon will hold a number of lectures and learning sessions as well as a banquet dinner, followed by the Wildrose Show awards presentation.

The BPA’s annual general meeting, which is open to the public, will start at 8:30 a.m. on March 16.

The auction portion of the convention will take place at the Vold Jones and Vold Auction Mart, starting at noon.

Sautner says there are at least 49 show and judging animals registered for the sale. Afterwards, non-registered animals will also be sold.

When the convention restarted, Sautner says they looked for a central location with an auction mart that could handle the bison. “Vold Jones and Vold is one of the better ones.”

For more information regarding the 2013 Wildrose Bison Convention Show and Sale visit the Bison Centre’s website at www.bisoncentre.com or call 780-955-1995.