By Tiffany Williams
The 72nd annual Ponoka Stampede is officially here. The professional rodeo action kicks off June 25 at 7 p.m. In 2007, the stampede attracted more than 75,000 people for the largest seven day professional rodeo in Canada. The Ponoka Stampede in 2007 was named the CPRA committee of the year and the WPCA committee of the year.
Ponoka Mayor Larry Henkelman is looking forward to the stampede and thinks it is a huge event for the Town of Ponoka.
“The Ponoka Stampede definitely has a large economic spinoff for the Town of Ponoka. It definitely brings the town together. The volunteers and the stampede board are what makes this attraction well-known worldwide,” said Henkelman. “It’s something our town can be proud of!”
MLA for Ponoka Ray Prins says that he wouldn’t miss the Ponoka Sampede and will be in this year’s parade and other events. He says that it is absolutely the highlight of entertainment for central Alberta in the summer time.
“First of all it is a huge event, it is the largest pro rodeo, it is that calibre and it is the most exciting small town rodeo in all of North America. People who come can get really close to the action,” said Prins. “It is all done by volunteers, they come from the surrounding area and put on a world class event. They have done it for more than 70 years and they have proven with the commitment that they can put on a world-class show.”
He says that the parade itself is one of the premiere parades of all of Alberta, when the weather is good it is the nicest parade you can see and it is great for people of all ages. The Ponoka Stampede Mile Long Parade will take place June 27 at 10 a.m.
But one of the most exciting things for Prins is what happens during the grand entry.
“I get to ride in the stage coach the last few years in the grand entry, with the thundering horses, the dust and the dirt and being right their in the action is a thrill of a lifetime.”
“I think that is a great theme, I know that there are young people from the area who are serving and it is very timely to pay respect to our armed forces. Especially to all of those who are serving at this time,” said Prins of this year’s theme of a ‘Salute to the armed Forces.’
MP for Wetaskiwin and Ponoka Blaine Calkins will be hosting the Military Family Resource Centre from the Edmonton Garrison. They will be holding a barbecue fundraiser on June 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kinsmen Community Centre.
“I think it will be a complement to the parade. When I was on the Defence committee I traveled there and I was very impressed with the programs and services that they have and I was moved by the need of those programs and some of the trying things that military families have to deal with when their loved ones are overseas,” Calkins said of the resource centre.
Calkins was very impressed with the theme of the stampede and is looking forward to saluting the troops.
“I commend the stampede board for having this as their theme. I think it is absolutely fantastic that they are recognizing what our soldiers are doing overseas and it is a great gesture form the board and it is an appropriate theme, especially on Fridays to wear red for the theme and they are to be commended for raising awareness for the great work our troops do,” said Calkins.
Calkins says the Ponoka Stampede puts Ponoka on the map, it is the largest event in central Alberta.
“It just raises the profile of Ponoka and frankly it is a great cultural event for Western Canada and a great family event,” said Calkins.
The Stampede has many great events including a craft show, the parade, professional chuckwagon action and much more for a rootin’tootin’ fun filled seven days!