The year the Ponoka Stampede took the Jace Harty Memorial bull riding event under its wing also turned out to be the year when the Ponoka Stampede Association won the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Canada event of the year award.
The 11th annual memorial bull riding event increased its prize money to $40,000, said Jace Harty event organizer Nansen Vold. “This is the highest prize money level in Canada.”
“That brought the better bulls, the better riders into town,” he added.
Receiving the award is an honour for both the Stampede Association and the Jace Harty Memorial Bull Riding. Vold feels this bull riding challenge is in the top five of bull riding events in North America.
“We’re right up there with number one,” said Vold.
Adding the event to the Ponoka Stampede was a last-minute decision, so Vold feels there will be more involvement in ticket sales with the entire week. He hopes it will attract a bigger audience and discussions are already under way for raising the prize money.
“We haven’t decided that for sure yet,” explained Vold.
The Ponoka Stampede recently won the Large Rodeo of the Year award from the CPRA for a second year in a row and Stampede president Joe Dodds couldn’t be happier. “We were pretty proud of that.”
He feels the cowboys and cowgirls who vote on the rodeos are letting people know why Ponoka’s event is one of the best professional rodeos out there. Good stock and healthy dose of prize money also help make it a strong contender.
Winning the PBR bull riding event was another feather in the cap for the association.
“The first time we tried something like this tells us we’re on the right track,” he said.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a PBR event to go with it (the Stampede),” Dodds added.
He credits Nansen Vold for a good selection of stock not only for Ponoka’s rodeo but also the CFR. “He supplies a lot of the bucking bulls for the CPR and PBR rodeos.”