From the moment the first feisty horse and brave rodeo contestant came roaring out of the wooden chutes in 1936 at the first 1936 Ponoka Stampede, this annual summer event on the same hill at the southwest end of town has grown to become one of the most prestigious rodeos in the world.
In those early days it was the Ponoka Sports Association that organized this exciting one-day shindig. Now many decades later as the Ponoka Stampede Association gets set to host the 75th Wild Wild West of ‘36 showdown, they will proudly salute those dedicated sponsors, volunteers, and our community who have always pitched in to make it all possible.
Right from those humble and dusty beginnings, volunteers from our town and county have always willingly come forth to give a helping hand in all areas of this popular community hosted event. This great support from so many individuals, clubs, organizations and businesses along the way has included the setup and cleanup for all the many attractions on the grounds and around town, before, during and after the Stampede.
Along with the promotion and operation of the rodeo events, there is also a busy schedule of organizing the parade, pancake breakfasts, cowboy church services, concession stands, games, jitney dances and entertainment, sidewalk sales, Chamber shuttle, farmers’ market, art shows, and so much more. A long list of sponsors have also jumped on board the Stampede bandwagon throughout these thrilling 75 years to kindly assist with the annual prize money and buckles for the rodeo, as well as graciously supporting and organizing other events for the enjoyment of families and fans of all ages.
That same great community tradition has carried on over all these years, with the fine spirit of volunteering, sponsorship, and support thriving not only for the Ponoka Stampede, but also in all areas year round for our vibrant and active town and county populace. There is no doubt that without the ongoing dedication and support of these hundreds of volunteers and sponsors, and the keen presence of those always avid fans, that most of our year-round community events would not be possible, and would not generate the wonderful successes and legacies that they have provided for so many.
In ongoing appreciation of this never-ending support, the Ponoka Stampede Association proudly gives back around $150,000 annually to the many volunteer organizations and individuals who play a vital role in the massive production of this seven- day event.
Organizations who have benefited from this program through the years include: Air Cadets, Bluffton Tops, Broncs Basketball and Football, Central 4-H, Chevy Oldstars, Dance FX, Girl Guides, Knights of Columbus, Needsmor Stables, PCHS Cheerleaders, Ponoka Fire Department, Ponoka Fish and Game, Ponoka Food Bank, Ponoka Lions Club, Ponoka Minor Hockey, Ponoka Pool Sharks, St. Mary’s Anglican Church, West 4-H Beef, Wetaskiwin Ski Club, Ponoka United Church, and the Winfield Lions, with others being added every Stampede.
It is quite likely that the PSA has given back more than a million dollars to their volunteer organizations, who in turn have used these funds to conduct their vital community programs — projects and events, to purchase uniforms and equipment, to build playgrounds, sports fields and facilities, and to support wonderful year-round causes that will benefit all age groups and all walks of life long into our very bright future.
Other proceeds of each of our Ponoka Stampedes over the years have also been dedicated to upgrade and expand the facilities, to maintain the campground, and to carry on the high standard and reputation that will attract the very best contestants, stock, and entertainment that has thrilled the huge crowds each and every summer.
Our Ponoka Stampede Association has also proudly worked with others in the town and county to establish the magnificent new Ponoka Ag Event Centre that will open soon. It will host the Rodeo Hall of Fame, and will serve as a longstanding year-round legacy, attraction, and participation point for everyone.
Like the many generations who have served on the Ponoka Stampede Association over the past three-quarters of a century, the volunteers and community support has always been there to make it happen.
Please join our former rodeo champions, officials, their families and special guests for this 75th celebration from June 27 to July 3.