Going with something different always makes people a bit nervous, even if your event is going on to 80.
Hoping to draw in a crowd that might not normally attend a rodeo event, the Ponoka Stampede went with a change in direction – a rock and roll move, one might say – as they took over the organizing of the lead-in event that went Saturday, June 25 at the Stampede grounds.
Following the now annual pre-Stampede bull riding event, Stampede director Keith Kjenner explained the committee went in search of attracting a different demographic.
“We went with something a bit different this year and it seems to have worked out well,” Kjenner said in an interview that night.
“A lot of people hung around long after the professional bull riding event and really seemed to enjoy themselves.”
He added the committee hopes to build upon the successes they saw as well as learn a few lessons for next time.
As for the entertainment, Big Sugar – a Toronto-based band made popular in the 1990s with their huge hit ‘Turn the Light On’ – played an hour long set, then closed out the night with a 30 minute encore made possible by the very enthusiastic crowd that seemed to grow as the night went on.
Before they took the stage though, it was Vancouver- based 54-40 alternative rock band that gained prominence in the mid-1980 that wowed the crowd with some memories, which included their 1984 hit ‘I Go Blind’.
Lead singer Neil Osborne was pumped by just how great the crowd was.
“It was fun and great to see such an excitement level – from the young and not so young people dancing to the grandma that was right up at the front of the stage happy as could be. It was a really neat crowd,” said Osborne, who added they tossed in a few songs from their latest album for the fans.
“Those ones a bit more fine tuned, but really, we are just thrilled to simply be alive and enjoying being up on stage. Now, I finally get it.”