By Tiffany Williams
Jace Harty was a bull rider from the Ponoka area who lived his life for the moment. He competed in the Professional Bull Riding association and Canadian Professional Rodeo events, the Calgary Stampede, the Ponoka Stampede and events all over North America.
Harty passed way in October 2002 in a tragic automobile accident and the sixth annual Jace Harty Memorial Bull Riding event on June 23 is here once again to ensure his legacy always lives on according to organizers.
“It is to celebrate his life the way we think he would want. Young, old and whole families getting a taste of the exciting life style that he loved and enjoying top caliber bull riders in a one of a kind atmosphere,” said Patrick Lentz one of the organizers. “He lived every day like it was his last and we want his legacy to continue.”
He touched the lives of so many people and helped younger kids learn the sport and would also spend time with veteran cowboys learning from and listening to their stories.
The event will have 30 professional cowboys ride some of the best stock around including; Tumbling Dice livestock, Peter and Sons, Sawyer and Bart Thompson. They will also have steer riding for boys ages 10 to 14 and junior bulls ages 15 to 16, keeping the tradition alive where Harty started.
The bull riding will start at 7 p.m. at the Tumbling Dice Arena just four miles west of Ponoka with a cabaret to follow. This year they have the Allen Christie band entertaining the crowd, who are a mix of up tempo country music with some bluegrass. Christie who hails from Caroline currently has the song ‘Old Bronc Saddle’ on the radio.
During the intermission they will also have a game of bull soccer, which Lentz says is very unique to their event. Two teams play soccer in the arena and they turnout Mexican fighting bulls.
“It’s pretty comical and it is good entertainment for the whole family, if you’ve never seen it, it’s worth the trip in itself,” said Lentz.
The event attracts approximately 1,000 people each year and Lentz encourages people to car pool because parking is limited. Once you get a good seat, pull out your lawn chair or a blanket as you get to enjoy the action from the side of the hill and have the grass between your toes.
“There is something about that atmosphere. I like to think I know why the sun always shines on us each year,” said Lentz.
Over the last five years the committee has raised over $15,000 for charities such as Ponoka Big Brothers and Sisters and the Children’s Wish Foundation. This year they will be donating their proceeds to Northern Alberta Brain Injury Society, Ponoka Victim Services Unit and Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine, as well as others.
Lentz emphasizes that the true reason for the event is to focus on their fellow cowboy.
“The Son, soul mate, friend and fellow cowboy that was taken from us too early and we hold this event to ensure his legend will ‘ride on’ forever,” said Lentz.
For more information contact Lentz at 403-783-0349 or 403-348-9775.