CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News
Not too many things last 75 years these days.
The Ponoka Stampede is the exception.
Built on the hard work of many volunteers and the tradition of rodeo in Ponoka, the Stampede hasn’t merely existed for 75 years but gotten bigger and better each and every year.
Rick Wierzba is in the first year of a two-year term as the president of the Stampede Association and is looking forward to kicking off the festivities.
“It’s been good. We’ve been getting ready for the 75th and everyone is really excited and putting in long days in preparation for getting the week started,” said Wierzba. “We’re working this year to try to honor the past and carry on with the future and we hope everyone shows up and really enjoys it.”
One of the reasons the Stampede has been able to grow and flourish through the years is the fact the event respects the tradition of the sport while at the same time offering new and exciting activities around the rodeo action.
“Monday is really a unique day for us this year. We’re doing a lot of extra stuff like the Wild Wild West Show and Gord Bamford concert and door prizes that includes a Dodge truck so it’s a good way to get the week started and we’ll go from there,” explained Wierzba.
The diamond jubilee year of the event is an important milestone and one that will be honored in a truly special way.
“We’re inviting back all the past champions or descendants of past champions, so there will a lot of history and tradition here this year,” said Wierzba. “It’s our 75th and we’re really encouraging people to get in the spirit of it and wear the more traditional dresses and outfits.”
Wierzba couldn’t confirm the exact number of tickets sold to date but did say they are ahead of last year’s pace.
He also said the Stampede wouldn’t be possible without the volunteer base that supports the event every year.
“We’re always looking for a few extra volunteers. We’d love to have as many people involved as possible and we have such a great group that helps every year,” said Wierzba.
The Ponoka Stampede will straddle Canada Day, beginning June 27 with Pro Rodeo, Wild Wild West Show and Gord Bamford. Dwight Yoakam will perform June 30 and the show concludes with the Pro Rodeo Finals and $50,000 Tommy Dorchester “Dash for Cash” on July 3.
“We’re excited about it and looking forward to it and hopefully we’ll put on a good show for everyone that turns out,” said Wierzba.