Organizers of the grand opening of the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame (CPRHF) pulled out all the stops with government officials and Canadian Rodeo Hall of Famers on hand June 30 at the Ponoka Ag Event Centre.
Among the dignitaries was Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Rod Fox, Wetaskwin MP Blaine Calkins, and Rona Ambrose, minister of public works and government services and minister for status of women, as well as rodeo legends Bill Collins, Leo Brown and Frank Mickey.
Fox was excited to see the hall of fame in Ponoka and for its potential. “It’s a real recognition for what Ponoka has done for the sport.”
He feels it is quite an honour to recognize rodeo legends in this way.
“What a great fit to be in a rodeo town of Ponoka and being in central Alberta,” he said.
Ambrose took a moment to give the Canadian Rodeo Historical Association (CRHA) a “big congratulations to all of you.”
Calkins said it was the partnership of the Town of Ponoka, Ponoka County, the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association, and the Ponoka Agricultural Society that helped make the event centre possible, which then made it possible for the hall of fame to find a home. “It’s through their partnership and through their foresight.”
Another speaker was Coun. Doug Gill, Ponoka Ag Event Centre Society president. He said it was the vision and commitment of Terry Jones that made the construction of the building possible. He was glad at the chance to work with the hall of fame. “We welcome them.”
CRHA president Lester Gurnett was somewhat at a loss for words during the presentation. “It’s a dream come true.”
He gave special thanks to board members Annette Smith, Judi Wilson and Brenda Vold for their work in putting the exhibit together.
Collins, Brown and Mickey had the honour of cutting the ribbon in front of approximately 100 people who came to the opening.
After the ribbon cutting, attendees were able to visit and have a first look at the new exhibit. The hall of fame will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day in the summer. Entry is free with donations welcome. Organizers are looking for volunteers to host the hall of fame.
The hall of fame originally had its home in Cochrane but was closed in 2005 due to high overhead costs. Since then memorabilia and artifacts have been stored in a sea-can until recently.
The exhibit will rotate to make way for other items throughout the year.