Ponoka’s rodeo immortals finally coming home

At last year’s Ponoka Stampede

At last year’s Ponoka Stampede

By CHARLES TWEED

Frank Mickey is moving to Ponoka, again.

No, Frank Mickey never moved away from Ponoka, so if you’re asking yourself, ‘How can a man move to a town he already lives in?’ the answer is simple.

Mickey will have his plaque, along with those of several other Ponoka residents, hang on the wall of the new Ponoka Ag Events Centre (PAEC). The PAEC society reached an agreement March 14 with the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame (CPRHOF) to make the centre the new home of the 157 inductees into the hall.

“It’s wonderful, we’ve been trying to get a place for it for 30 years,” said Mickey.

Mickey was inducted into the hall in 2005 in the builder category for his work with the Ponoka Stampede.

The hall of fame had been on one of the most epic bronc rides in the history of the rodeo — up, down, spun around and back again and now the CPRHOF finally heard the buzzer.

“It started in 1979, when we first started inducting people and from that point on they kept talking about a place for it. They built a place in Cochrane and that didn’t turn out — then they went into Calgary at the Stampede grounds and got it half organized and then they needed the space and the stuff had to be moved.

It’s been in canisters ever since,” said Mickey.

“What a good deal it is,” said Harry Vold from his ranch in Arizona. “Anybody that wants something done in Ponoka, if they get the right people behind it, it’ll happen.”

Vold was raised in Ponoka and inducted in 1992 in the builder category. Vold’s bucking stock is legendary and now the legends of pro rodeo will finally have a proper resting place.

“It was a good smart move to move it to Ponoka. We’ve tried to keep up the tradition and in order to keep up the tradition you have to have places like the hall of fame and you have to have it in the right location,” said Vold.

Vold is also planning on being in Ponoka for the 75th anniversary of the stampede. He emphasized the importance of rodeo holding on to its rich heritage but did concede things may have changed a bit as well.

“When I was a boy, 75 years ago, it took me all day to ride a pony from out at the ranch into Ponoka and I’ll be coming in a jet aeroplane that flies 650 miles an hour and they said I’d be up there for less than three hours. Now that’s progress,” said Vold.

Progress indeed, just ask the CPRHOF who can finally get off its 32-year-long-ride — one where they held on till they could land on their feet and in the process scored a 99.