By Tiffany Williams
The 72nd annual Ponoka Stampede has entertainment almost every day from June 25 to July 1.
The main concert on June 26 features country artists George Canyon and hometown star Shane Yellowbird.
Canyon has been trying to play at the stampede for awhile and his schedule has finally allowed him to play.
“I’ve been excited and trying to play there for the last two years, talking with my management and I’m really glad it finally worked,” said Canyon. “It’s a very popular rodeo, plus it is home in Alberta, any chance I get to play in Alberta, I jump at it more than my management. They try to reign me in if I had my way I would do shows everyday”
This year the theme at the Ponoka Stampede is Saluting the Armed Forces and in 2006 Canyon visited Afghanistan and this year was appointed an honourary colonel. He was very pleased and excited with the theme.
“It’s a slap in the face that you get to be with your wife and kids everyday and these men and women are putting their lives on the line to protect us,” said Canyon. “A lot of us, me included, take it for granted. It is important to take time like with this year’s theme to pay the tribute and respect and to take a breath to remember what these individuals and families are sacrificing.”
For Yellowbird he grew up around rodeos and the Ponoka Stampede. He says some of his memories are being at the midway at the stampede.
“Rodeos is where it is at for me because that is where I grew up,” said Yellowbird.
“I was sneaking into cabarets when I was a kid and I know what people want that is why it is my favourite place to be.”
He used to compete in steer wrestling, tie down roping and team roping and thinks if he wasn’t singing he would be rodeoing.
In 2002 he was on stage at Ponoka Stampede talent night showcase and was very excited being on stage then.
“I thought holy crap how did I make the top 10? I hadn’t done anything. That was huge for me and now I’m headlining the show, it’s crazy.”
On June 27 and 28 at the beer gardens there will be a dance featuring Lacombe rising star Gord Bamford. He has opened for such artists as Tim McGraw, Kenny Rogers, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Terri Clark and is sure to be a great show. His most recent hit ‘Blame it on That Red Dress’ reached number one on CMT’s top 20 in early November.
On June 29 and June 30 Hey Romeo will be performing at the Long Score Saloon.
Also on June 30 is the Ponoka Talent Night starting at 8:30 p.m. at the Long Score Saloon.
The Ponoka Stampede will feature professional rodeo action from June 25 to July 1. On Canada Day there will be the Ponoka Stampede Showdown competition, a $10,000 bonus round. Also, starting on June 26 until July 1 will be professional chuckwagon action with the $50,000 Tommy Dorchester Dash for Cash on the final night.