Ponoka Stampede parade salutes a century of 4-H and Canada 150

Celebrating the 4-H and Canada’s 150th in this week’s Ponoka News Reflections.

Since that very special day when Ponoka officially became a town in 1904 the growing population and ongoing generations of both our town and county have achieved and celebrated a long and colourful history of exciting milestones and successes that have been proudly celebrated by countless exciting events and spectacular parades.

These gala celebrations in and around town have included the 50th and 100th anniversaries of our vibrant community, province, and nation; the constant movement of soldiers and military equipment; the solemn and thankful marking of the end of two devastating World Wars annually saluted by the Legion Remembrance Day services; visits of prominent International groups; Air Cadet processions; colorful individuals and marching bands; and no less than 80 rootin’-tootin’ Ponoka Stampede parades; only to mention a few.

This year’s thrilling three-mile long 81st annual Ponoka Stampede parade on June 30 starts at 10 a.m. sharp, and will be absolutely no exception to all the rest of all those fabulous festivities that so many thousands of folks and families of all ages have gathered here together to enjoy for so many colorful years past. The theme of this year’s very popular kickoff for Canada’s largest seven-day professional rodeo will be honouring our nation’s 150th birthday as well as 100 years of the very active 4-H youth program in Alberta. The procession will feature a glorious splash of color and pride that will proudly celebrate and salute the long-standing traditions, heritage, costumes, and nationalities of all of those citizens and families of all ages over the years to our present day who have passionately worked, shared, and combined their skills and culture together to make our free and peaceful nation one of the best places to live in the world.

A long and amazing history of dedication and success

As each and every one of us will always look forward to celebrating the ongoing anniversaries and other special events and milestones of our Town, our Province, our Nation, and our own personal family lives we must also salute our long and colorful history. Let us never forget those hardy generations of our ancestors and pioneers who set the stage, and have strived to honour and carry on the strong and dedicated efforts that have assured us all of countless successes as well as the safe and friendly community life-styles and amenities that we enjoy each and every day.

The real story of Ponoka and surrounding districts did not start with the coming of the railroad in 1891 into ‘Siding No. 14’ and the celebration of our town status in 1904. We all need to humbly appreciate the fact that by that time so much history had already been seen by our still usually placid Battle River and the surrounding rugged and rolling countryside. It was there where the footsteps and efforts of famous explorers and missionaries, patient fur traders, North West Mounted Police, noble First Nations tribes, and others who had already played the vital roles that would assure the early establishment and the beginnings of the long and successful settlement of this lush and lucrative area.

Ponoka has, and always will be well known for its friendship and keen western hospitality. In July of 1912 a Canadian Pacific Railway train on its way to Red Deer was packed with no less than five Brass bands for a mammoth music rally, but unfortunately went off the track just south of Ponoka. Our vibrant community would respond very quickly, ushering the slightly ‘shaken up’, revellers into town and offering them food and shelter for the night, but because they were already well into the ‘party mood’, they set their instruments up in the CPR parking lot and proceeded to parade around the streets and entertain the locals with their fine music and shenanigans. As the night rolled on the local taverns, who were due to close at 10 p.m. issued a special Proclamation to re-open, rolled out their best Scotch at 15 cents a glass, and the fun and frolic would carry on until 6:30 a.m. when the visitors piled back on a relief train and bid a fond farewell to thank you to their great Ponoka hosts.

As always the welcome mat will be out for everyone and it will be a great week at the 81st edition of our Ponoka Stampede, featuring the thrilling rodeo action and wagon races, giant midway, top-notch entertainment, special and unique displays of art, pancake breakfasts, and lots more non-stop fun and celebrations in and around town for the whole family.

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