The 83rd edition of the Ponoka Stampede Parade will see the province’s top politician leading the way.
Premier Jason Kenney will be the honourary parade marshall, riding with WPCA chuckwagon driver Rick Fraser on top of a stagecoach. The appearance marks the premier’s first visit to Ponoka after winning the provincial election in April.
Alberta’s 17th Premier returned to Alberta in 2016 after resigning his seat as an Alberta Member of Parliament following the federal Conservatives being ousted from government that fall.
He won the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta in the spring of 2017 and then became leader of the blended United Conservative Party that summer, following the merger of the PC and Wildrose parties. He then won a seat in the provincial legislature via a by-election that December.
During his time in federal politics, Kenney was the Minister for Multiculturalism, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Minister of Employment and Social Development as well as Minister of National Defence.
Previous to all that, he was the president of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation for several years.
Floats ‘n’ bands
The infamous three-mile long parade will be on Friday, June 28, starting at 10 a.m. in downtown.
This year’s theme focuses on one of the Stampede’s long-term events — the Rodeo Challenge that is marking 20 years at the Stampede.
The Rodeo Challenge brings together the drivers and outriders from the World Professional Chuckwagon Association as well as many community volunteers with children that have either intellectual or physical challenges for a morning of fun performing in their own rodeo.
Participating in the parade this year is the Calgary Fire Department Pipe and Drums, the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute, the Magrath High School Spirit of Alberta Marching Band, the Innisfail Legion Pipe Band and the Red Deer Royals Marching Band, to name a few.
The parade will again feature a variety floats from community groups, municipalities from the region, area First Nation entries alongside many different businesses.
The parade route remains unchanged.
It will begin at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex, then head up 53 St. before turning right at 48 Ave. and running up to 51 St. where it will turn left. Everything will move up until it takes a right onto 57 Ave. followed by another right to go down 50 St. The parade will go right again at 46 Ave. before turning on 54 St. and dispersing at the arena.
Everyone is encouraged to get downtown early and find their spots, as parking will be limited and road closures will begin 30 minutes before the parade starts.