The Miss Ponoka Stampede Queens from 1948 to 1998 were special guests of the annual July long weekend rodeo in 1999 for a gala reunion. Shown in the back row are: Lynette Galloway

The Miss Ponoka Stampede Queens from 1948 to 1998 were special guests of the annual July long weekend rodeo in 1999 for a gala reunion. Shown in the back row are: Lynette Galloway

Reflections of Ponoka: Ponoka Stampede Queen tradition returns in 2013

An exciting feature of the long-standing color and tradition of the Ponoka Stampede has been the annual crowning

An exciting feature of the long-standing color and tradition of the Ponoka Stampede has been the annual crowning of the Queen of the Rodeo. Since 1948 — with a few breaks in between — a bevy of exuberant young ladies from our town and surrounding districts have enjoyed the unique and exciting opportunity of becoming the First Lady of the world renowned Ponoka Stampede.

As the directors of the Ponoka Stampede Association and staff prepare for the gala presentation of their 77th Stampede from June 25 to July 1, they were pleased to announce this week that after a seven-year hiatus that they will be looking for Miss Ponoka Stampede 2013. Young ladies 18 to 23 years of age interested in joining in on the exciting opportunity of becoming the next Miss Ponoka Stampede will be required to have assets that include: horsemanship, public speaking, some knowledge of rodeo, an outgoing personality, and the ability to attend events and make appearances. Resumes or any questions should be directed to the attention of the Queen Committee at Fax 403-783-5858 or email: stampede@ponokastampede.com. Applications from those who wish to take part in an experience of a lifetime will be accepted until 4 p.m. on Monday, April 8.

Successful candidates will be interviewed by a selection committee and then will have the opportunity to meet and greet citizens of all ages in and around town, while attending many delightful events throughout the community in the busy weeks that lead up to the thrilling seven days of rodeo action, concerts, wagon races, parade and hoopla that always goes with the Ponoka Stampede. All of the ladies vying for the 2013 Stampede Queen title will be hosted along the way by a congenial Stampede Queen Committee, which includes members of the community and the PSA.

Miss Ponoka Stampede 2013 will receive a trophy saddle, trophy buckle, wardrobe and the possibility of competing for Miss Rodeo Canada. The new queen will also become a colorful ambassador of the Ponoka Stampede and the town and county of Ponoka at numerous other rodeos, parades and other special events throughout Alberta and beyond. Her ongoing adventures in the rodeo world promises to be both challenging and rewarding, as well as a great inspiration for whatever future endeavours she may choose to pursue.

Our salute to our 27 Stampede Queens of the past

The humble beginnings of our classic Ponoka Stampede took place in 1936 on the same grounds that they do today, under the direction of manager George McKeddie. The Ponoka Sports Association hosted a thrilling two-day rodeo and fair that over the years has steadily grown to become one of the biggest and richest events in the world.

While adding the first wooden bleachers, barns and other family attractions in the early years, the annual Ponoka Stampede attracted thousands of fans to rugged and skilled events such as chuckwagon and chariot racing, wild horse race and cow milking, Roman riding, Indian races and steer decorating, as well as fun events such as kids races, ball games, a parade, and many great attractions and goodies for the whole family. With the wild rodeo sports of bull-riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, ladies barrel racing, and team roping being added to the mix along the way, the popular event grew by leaps and bounds and has attracted the best competitors in the rodeo world.

Along with countless new attractions such as a midway, dances, and much more the Ponoka Stampede committee decided to invite participants to vie for the honour of becoming the first Rodeo Queen in 1948, with Bertha (Santee) Courser receiving the coveted crown. Many former Ponoka Stampede Queens over the years still live in and around the district, have married and settled down to raise their families, but are still very much involved in the great and growing sport of rodeo. The list includes: Mary Ellen (Jones) Wilson 1956, Jean (Dodds) Twa 1959, Sheila Stickney (Koller) 1966, Shannon (Boles) Howorko 1984, Cheryl (Robson) Daines 1985, Lynnette (Scott) Galloway 1986, Shelley (Houston) Dyrland 1987, Colleen (Bexson) Coleman 1988, Rhonda (Hartman) Miller 1989, Tracy Crawford 1990, Angie (Lundgren) Andersen 1991, Karen (Black) Skeels 1992, Michelle Williams 1993, Jessie (Randles) Scott 1994, Diana Davies 1995, Jody (Bougerolle) Leach 1996, Brook Robertson 1997, Karina Tees 1998, Kim Hughes 1999, Nadia Content 2000, Bobbie Jo Sauder 2001, Brianna Ernst 2002, Mandy (Angelveldt) Dux 2003, Cody Jo Lawes 2004, Crystal Albers 2005 and Nichole Campbell in 2006.

Milestones of the successful Ponoka Stampede Queen festivities over the years have included the exciting victory of four of our Ponoka representatives at the annual Canadian Finals Rodeo competing for Miss Rodeo Canada. The first reigning Miss Ponoka Stampede to become Miss Rodeo Canada was Rhonda Hartman in 1990, followed by three MRC crowns in a row: Jody Bourgerolle in 1997, Brook Robertson in 1998, and Karina Tees in 1999. Over the years the search for the Stampede Queen has also been kindly supported by countless community sponsors, volunteers and fans.

Young ladies of Ponoka and districts are encouraged to become involved in the excitement and camaraderie of the search to find Miss Ponoka Stampede 2013, and watch for more highlights, photos, and reports in future editions of the Ponoka News.