After 8o years in the rodeo business the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association (PSA) has proved that with a positive vision anything is possible.
Starting from a little rodeo back in the day the event has grown year over year. Stampede president Blair Vold says it’s a strong volunteer base that makes the event possible. With pride in everything they do, some volunteers plan their vacations around the rodeo week to help out.
For Vold it’s simple. “You’ve gotta cowboy.”
Celebrating Canada’s 150th is important to the PSA board of directors and because of this the popular three mile long parade will recognize the big celebration. In addition to that Vold said the board also wants to recognize 4-H in Alberta. 2017 marks the 100 anniversary of 4-H in Alberta.
“We’re one of the few rodeos that had an increase in fan base here,” said Vold of ticket sales.
With one of the largest payouts in North America, the Stampede brings with it a full week of activity including fireworks and major musical entertainment. Indeed, this year’s 81st edition brings Diamond Rio and Tim Hicks to the main stage.
Over the years the Stampede has grown with increased days and increased payouts. Ponoka’s payout — sometimes it gets athletes in the running for the Canadian Finals Rodeo — brings some of the biggest rodeo athletes from around North America and despite big names and big dollars, it has an home town feel to it. From the up-close seats to the rodeo action to the long score for steer wrestling, tie down roping and team roping, the PSA board knows what brings people to town.
There’s only a handful of long scores left in North America, says Vold, which helps create a small town rodeo atmosphere with big time prizes and professional rodeo events. Vold says the goal is to keep the week family friendly.
Along with the rodeo action is six days of busy chuckwagon racing with the World Professional Chuckwagon Association racing. Stands are usually full with racing fans as the drivers bring their thoroughbred horses through the 5/8 mile track.
Along with the rodeo action comes other acts including wild horse racing, entertainment — this year brings John Payne, AKA the One-Arm Bandit — plus pony chucks and more. The Friday before the rodeo starts will be a Professional Bull Riding event that the PSA took over recently. At this point the lots and parking will be full of campers ready to make a week of it at the Ponoka Stampede.
Tickets go on sale today. For more information check www.ponokastampede.com.
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