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Active volunteer Stampede’s honorary president

he Ponoka Stampede Association has a notable woman in the community. Laura Wierzba, an active volunteer in the community, will be the honorary president for the Ponoka Stampede and the first woman to have this title.
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Laura Wierzba

By Eraina Hooyer

Staff Reporter

The Ponoka Stampede Association has a notable woman in the community.

Laura Wierzba, an active volunteer in the community, will be the honorary president for the Ponoka Stampede and the first woman to have this title.

Wierzba was given the news that she will be the honorary president on her 90th birthday. It came as both a shock and a joy to Wierzba and she is excited to have been chosen for this honour.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” said Wierzba. “When they told me the news I practically passed out, I couldn’t believe it. I have always been very interested in rodeo and the Stampede. I’m in awe of the whole situation, I just have to feel good about it.”

Wierzba has a strong family history in the stampede and there are members of her family that are still involved with rodeo today.

Wierzba’s father, Lawrence Doran was actively involved with the Stampede and had a passion for rodeo. Doran, himself, was nominated twice for the honorary president. The year he was to scheduled to receive the honour he became sick and passed away.

Doran was among the organizers of the first Chersterwald Stampede which was held in 1914 as an addition to the annual picnic and served as an active member of the board.

In 1919 he helped organize the Ferrybank Stampede which was held each year on July 1 until the last Stampede in 1935.

Doran was in charge of horse racing during that time which expanded to include cart races. He retired from the farm in 1942.

Wierzba is pleased that she will be able to dedicate this honour to her parents and family and shed light on the stampede’s rich and vibrant history.

“This honour is a tribute to my parents and the real pioneers in the Stampede fields,” she said. “I’m proud that I am able to represent them and make people realize that there has been stampedes for many years.”

Wierzba will be gracing the Stampede and will be sitting in an open car in the parade. She will also be at the grand opening of the Stampede riding in a stage coach.

Gary Harbin, PSA executive member, was pleased to recognize Wierzba with this honor and believes that she is a great person to represent this event.

“It’s a privilege for the Ponoka Stampede to have her as honorary president,” said Harbin. “Her family has been involved with rodeo and has been an important part of her life.”

Wierzba was a teacher all of her life and taught at Sylvan Heights School. She recently worked very hard compiling the history of the old schools in the area and published a book titled ‘Rural Schools of Ponoka County.’

“I think the volunteer spirit that she showed in working on her book exemplifies the same spirit of the 700 plus volunteers that make the Ponoka Stampede an annual success,” said Harbin. “It is such a privilege and an honour to have her as our honorary president. She is the volunteer of the year and it takes 700 more to put on the stampede.”

Harbin says that Wierzba was chosen because of all the work she has done for other people and her continued volunteering within Ponoka.

“She’s the citizen of the year and has contributed a lot to the community,” he said. “We admire people who give a lot of themselves to the community and make it a better place and she’s one of them.”