Dennis Pugh and Joyce Vold. Photo submitted.

Dennis Pugh and Joyce Vold. Photo submitted.

Handing over the reins

After nine years of dedication, Joyce Vold and Dennis Pugh are handing over the reins of managing the Calnash Trucking Ag Event Centre.

Not only have they both managed the building since 2013 – Dennis since April 2013 and Joyce since September 2013 – but they’re life partners who know the rodeo and equine world through-and-through. With a variety of shows and projects under their belt at the ag centre, both Joyce and Dennis felt the time was right to take time for themselves. They’ve given their notice to be done at the end of November with the goal to set the next manager up for success.

“We want the place to flourish,” explained Dennis. “We’re here to help.”

They won’t say it outright, because that’s not how Joyce and Dennis operate, but one can see how much work they have put into the building. When Joyce started out, she was a part time events coordinator, and Dennis was managing the building. While they do have titles, they prefer not to put names on their roles because they work together as a team.

Joyce and Dennis are the team who oversaw the growth of the ag event centre; from a slow buildup to an event just about every weekend, putting the operations in the black. They oversaw the addition of the roof that connects the ag centre to its barn; they worked through the pandemic and now Joyce has a folder of events on the wait-list in case something cancels.

Looking back, Dennis says when he first started it took some work to understand the ventilation system.

“Probably when it was designed it was not taken into account that every day that this facility works, you have to put about 500 gallons of water on the ground just to maintain the texture of the ground,” he explained.

Humidity was an issue. But with some hard work and talking to a few experts, the air exchange system was changed to account for the water. Work like this wouldn’t have been possible if it was not for the support of the Ponoka Ag Event Centre Society board of directors.

“We’ve had their support all the way through,” said Dennis. “That’s vital to getting the job done.”

The supportive board, coupled with a passionate crew developed the ag centre into a booming operation.

“Terry (Jarrett) and I worked together,” explained Dennis of the beginning. “We cleaned the barn and we did everything because there wasn’t as many shows or week-to-week shows at the time.”

“Soon after that it started to build right away.”

Now there is a whole crew of part time and full time employees, plus volunteers who help ensure the building runs efficiently. “We’re so grateful to the people that are here that over the years have transitioned us to getting here and they’ve just been a heck of a group of people,” said Dennis.

Everyone becomes adept at a variety of tasks; from fixing gates and fencing, to preparing the arena, to ensuring there is enough supplies in the barn for the animals.

Currently, Joyce’s calendar is filling up for 2023 and she doesn’t expect to see it slow down.

She’s proud of the economic boon the building has been for Ponoka. When events come to town, the businesses see it. From the gas stations to the liquor stores to the restaurants, business picks up and they recognize that it’s coming from the Calnash Trucking Ag Event Centre.

It has also meant that Joyce and Dennis need to communicate regularly.

“While you work through such a busy schedule, I have to talk to him before I book something, ‘Can we make that changeover happen?’” explained Joyce of how they work together.

Joyce is no stranger to the workings of rodeo and equine events. In 1985 she started working the Ponoka Stampede media trailer, which at the time was based at the infield. She oversaw its move to a trailer near the Stampede Office and was a regular media liaison for the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

Barry Carter was the Stampede president who hired Joyce in 1985. Along being the event coordinator, Joyce and Dennis have hosted many roping events including the Old Timers Team Roping for the Ponoka Stampede. They’re excited to be able to get back into those passions, and to be at home together and to take time for themselves and family.

The Calnash Trucking Ag Event Centre has also seen renovations and improvements in the building with a whole new façade and bar, and offices for organizations, as well as a special sponsor section.

The future is bright for Joyce and Dennis and they’re excited to take on this new journey and watch as the next phase of the Calnash Trucking Ag Event Centre unfolds.


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