West Coast Amusements shakes things up for 75th Stampede

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Youngsters ride one of the midway’s fan favourites — the Super 8 drop tower.

Youngsters ride one of the midway’s fan favourites — the Super 8 drop tower.

ADAM JACKSON/Ponoka News

Excited screams and shrieks abounded last week at the Stampede grounds — and not all of it was for the rodeo events.

Back for its 10th year at the Ponoka Stampede, West Coast Amusements made a splash with thrillseekers with the addition of three new rides, including a fan-favourite Fire Ball.

“It’s been good so far,” said West Coast Amusements co-owner Robbie Houser. “It’s always great to be at the Stampede, and this year, since it’s the 75th anniversary, we decided to go a little bigger and put on a better carnival.”

“We’ve definitely heard a lot of good reviews on the Fire Ball.”

The midway was open on the north side of the grounds from June 27 to July 3, giving kids and adults alike an opportunity to spend time on the grounds even if they aren’t watching the rodeo.

Aside from celebrating the history of the Ponoka Stampede, West Coast Amusements brings history of its own to carnivals and fairs across Alberta and British Columbia.

The business took flight when Houser’s grandfather ran away from home at the age of 14 to join a travelling fair.

The travelling act included a major animal portion, including a lion, which is still West Coast Amusement’s logo.

Three generations later, the lineup has changed from animals to amusement rides, but it is still built on the same foundation.

“We always try to keep the tradition of how it started, but we also try to do new things and keep it fresh,” said Houser.

Life on the road is not easy, says Houser, but it’s worth it.

“It’s tough on us and our staff, but we make sure that we take care of them the best we can,” said Houser. “We realize how tough it is for most of them so we make sure that we do whatever we can.”

The 10-year partnership between the Stampede and West Coast Amusements is something that Houser appreciates and embraces.

“It’s great working with the people here,” said Houser. “Everyone is really helpful and makes sure that we have what we need to put on a good show. I really appreciate the hard work of everyone on the (Ponoka Stampede) board.”