By Tiffany Williams
The Ponoka Stampede will have television coverage of rodeo events and the chuckwagons on Shaw cable channel 10 and StarChoice starting June 26. The Shaw television crew will be at the Stampede grounds for the whole day and the highlights will be shown starting at 9 p.m. for an hour and a half. The commentating will be done by Les McIntyre, Dr. Lynn Phillips and Brianne Hurlburt on Shaw.
President of the Ponoka Stampede Association Blake Butterfield says that all of the committee’s hard work is about to pay off. He says that as soon as the stampede is over they start planning for the next year and he is very excited for the stampede.
“It’s nice to see it. Everyone is a little nervous when it starts. You want to put on as good of production as you can. We want to entertain people to the fullest extent,” said Butterfield. “With a town the size of Ponoka, 30 per cent of the town volunteers and the town and county are all behind us. It’s really Ponoka’s rodeo. It’s not just the directors we just coordinate it.”
McIntyre hosted the kick off press conference at Wolf Creek Golf Resort on June 23 for more than 100 people. He said that one of the best things about the Ponoka Stampede is the calibre of stock.
“Everyone will walk away knowing that it is the best stock and rodeo in the world. It is the 8th Wonder of the World,” said McIntyre.
In the Ponoka Stampede Showdown Final on July 1 the crowd at will be able to watch Grated Coconut who was the PRCA bareback horse of the year for the second year in a row. The 10 year old stallion has won the award for the fourth time in the past five years.
On June 26 Rod Hay will be riding World Champion Saddle Bronc Horse Cool Alley from Kesler’s Championship rodeo stock.
“Those two horses have won more awards and are world class. It all ties together we get the top stock, prize money and we attract the top cowboys,” said Butterfield.
These are just two of the excellent stock that will be on display at the stampede. There will also be stock from the Vold Rodeo Co., Calgary Stampede, Northcott, Gerlitz, Franklin, B and S Livestock, Havens and Woodriver Ranch.
One of the top barrel racers in the world Lindsay Sears from Nanton was at the PSA kickoff. In 2007 at the National Finals Rodeo she won five go rounds and took home $119,254.80. She thinks that Ponoka is the best rodeo over the July 4 weekend and that the committee does a very good job of promoting the sport of rodeo.
“In Canada it is one of the biggest crowds. For barrels it is a challenge because the arena is more openand you have to deal with the weather because we deal entirely with ground conditions hopefully it will be fair conditions throughout,” said Sears. “Ponoka is a unique rodeo because of the setup. There is the longscore and it is set aside from the rest of the rodeo and the crowd really enjoys it as well.”
Sears who will be competing in nine different rodeos this week will be racing in the slack on June 25.
Greg and Cody Cassidy were also in attendance at the kick off and were looking forward to the stampede.
“Ponoka, they take care of their cowboys. They do everything the can to make it better for the cowboys. Some committees have had it the same for prize money year after year. Ponoka looks to add more each year,” said Cody. “The committee does a heck of a job, especially for the fans and it is more user friendly than some of the other big rodeos.”
The crowds at the Ponoka Stampede will also get to watch Cassidy’s steer wrestling horse of the year, Willy, for most of the performances. Cody will be competing in steer wrestling on June 30 and his brother will be in tie-down roping on June 26.
The Ponoka Stampede officially starts on June 25 with the pro rodeo starting at 7 p.m. The pro rodeo action will start at 1 p.m. from June 26 to July 1 and the showdown will be at 6:30 p.m. on July 1.