By Tiffany Williams
The 72nd annual Ponoka Stampede is the largest professional rodeo in all of Canada and is also the best show in the country. In 2007, 2006 and 2001 Ponoka was named the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association largest committee of the year. In 2007 they were also named the World Professional Chuckwagaon Association committee of the year.
PSA president Blake Butterfield says that the committee works very hard each year to make the event the best it can be.
“People really appreciate coming to nice facilities,” said Butterfield. “We work to keep our track in good shape and the prize money is a big factor as well.”
This year there will be over 500 cowboys and cowgirls competing at Ponoka. There is $37,500 up for grabs in each of the seven rodeo events including the Rodeo Showdown on the final day matching the top four in each event for a $10,000 bonus. The WPCA has an all time high in prize money and sponsorship. The total prize money makes Ponoka the largest prize money rodeo in North America over the Canada Day weekend and with the chuckwagon prize and sponsorship money prize money reaches over a million dollars. It is Canada’s biggest sporting event over the July 1 weekend.
The rodeo will run over six days and the chuckwagons will run over five nights. On the final night July 1 the Ponoka Stampede Showdown will start at 6:30p.m. After the rodeo showdown is over the top wagons will compete in the $50,000 Tommy Dorchester Dash For Cash.
“I think in today’s economy the prices are very reasonable for non-stop entertainment,” said Butterfield. “We try to keep our prices down because we like families to come because 15 years from now that is who are fan base will be.
On the final night there will also be the Cattle Raffle. The Ponoka Stampede Association uses the money to help make improvements to the stampede grounds. First prize is 50-bred heifers or $40,000 cash. There are only 2,500 tickets sold and on each day of the rodeo 10 finalists are drawn and they receive $50 each.
“It really relates to the rodeo. That’s how we built the new washrooms in the park,” said Butterfield.
The Ponoka Stampede has many activities for the whole family and promises to be the best show in Ponoka all year long.