Ponoka to host historical anniversaries in summer 2011 – Reflections of Ponoka

A magnificent drawing of the late John Dodds

By MIKE RAINONE / For The News

Local residents and visitors from far and wide will be treated to a pair of gala community celebrations here in Ponoka in the summer of 2011. These milestone events will honour our first class psychiatric treatment centre, as well as our proud rodeo traditions, and will include the 75th Diamond Jubilee edition of the Ponoka Stampede (June 27 to July3), and the 100th anniversary of the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury from July 29 to 31.

Both of these historic and nostalgic celebrations will feature many special events and attractions for all generations of families, and as well as offering a host of souvenirs and the unique opportunity to mix and mingle with new and old friends and relatives in and around our always hospitable Ponoka community and surrounding districts.

Saluting the diamond performance of our Ponoka Stampede

Since George McKeddie opened the gate for the first performance of the Ponoka Stampede in 1936, generations of rodeo fans of all ages and all walks of life have been enjoying this thrilling annual July long weekend showdown. Of course, this annual rootin-tootin event hosted on a grassy hill at the southern edge of our growing town has grown by leaps and bounds over all those colourful years, but the traditions, the skills, and the keen community spirit and involvement will never change.

These thrilling competitions of rodeo, chuckwagon racing, and all the rest have now become an immensely popular and lucrative international sport, but let us never forget that it was around our prairies and ranches where those rugged and legendary cowboys and ranchers of the past got the wild fun started.

As always, the forthcoming 75th Ponoka Stampede will present the same great family weeklong attractions, including the rough and tumble rodeo action, chuckwagon racing, first class entertainment and beer gardens, midway, mile-long parade and special downtown events, western art show, and a whole lot more. Knowing the gung-ho Ponoka Stampede Association and their loyal community volunteer team as I have for many years, I know that there will be lots of great surprises and hoopla when the big show kicks in on June 27.

One of the feature highlights of the forthcoming 75th Stampede will be a fabulous 2011 souvenir calendar, which is already available for purchase for just $20 and is in support of the new Tom Butterfield Creating Cowboys Scholarship. Superbly drawn, designed, and prepared by talented 28-year-old Ponoka district artist Inge Sybrandi, this calendar salutes the proud history of the Ponoka Stampede. From the humble beginnings of tiny district rodeos, and wagon and roman racing at family picnics of the 1930s, the calendar vividly relates in illustration and word the efforts of our local legendary rodeo stars, builders, promoters, proud native heritage, community pride, and much more.

Featured within its action packed pages are a deserving tribute to the ongoing efforts of the Butterfield, Dodds and Vold families, George McKeddie, Sammy Sissons, Buster Doran, Tommy Dorchester, Mel Hyland, Glen Crandall, Em Pritchard, Shorty Jones, Frank Mickey, and many others, all for the love and support of the rodeo. Inge Sybrandi is a quiet, but extremely dedicated and ambitious young artist who came to the Ponoka district with her parents from Holland 15 years ago. She enjoyed working on the family dairy farm, but quickly developed an instant love for horses, including riding and later training the English variety in the Sylvan Heights area. Inge’s passion for art flourished while completing high school in Ponoka and later attending Olds College, always finding this hobby as an outlet to express her true feelings of her prairie home and environment. After doing many portraits and three previous calendars, rodeo was not in her initial portfolio, but she was quick to express that when you grow up around Ponoka you can’t help but catch the spirit of the rugged sport and its colourful cast of characters. Inge strongly believes that pictures are worth more than a thousand words, and that truly capturing the subject, theme, and flavour for your drawings is only achieved by actually meeting the individuals and their families. As she shared their stories and pictures, and experienced first-hand their skills, sincere pride and ongoing accomplishments, she was able to put this wonderful Ponoka Stampede 2011 calendar together. Inge found a great respect in the long and colourful history of this local event, and sincerely appreciated all the kind assistance from so many special people in helping her transform it all into the printed product.

Copies are now available at Jones Boys, CIBC, McC Feeds, Ponoka Western Wear, Ponoka Veterinary Clinic, Dino’s Office Lounge, or by contacting Inge’s Art at 403-704-5534 or email inge.sybrandi@gmail.com. Not only will it make a great Christmas gift, it will also be an historical community souvenir that will be treasured for a lifetime.

100 years of caring and sharing

The “100 Years of Caring” Reunion in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury (formerly Alberta Hospital and PMH) will bring present and past staff members, families, and guests for a great summer event in 2011.

Many great activities are planned both at the Hospital and around the community from Friday, July 29 through to Sunday, July 31, 2011, and these will include a banquet, tours, souvenir and picture exchange, and of course lots of time to reminisce. Advance registration is required, and more information is available by calling Marilyn Nakonechny at 403-783-7777, Marilyn Hoffman at 403-783-7862, or contacting the reunion website at http://100yearsofcaring-reunionweekend.weebly.com/

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