It was the first time that the finals have been held indoors in Ponoka, but for organizers it will not be the last.
Team Roping Canada (TRC) held its biggest event of the season Sept. 13 to 15 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre and kept the place busy from sunrise to well after sundown all three days.
A total 1,576 teams competed in 10 separate events, with the competitors running nearly non-stop from 8 a.m. until almost 10:30 p.m. each night.
However, in the end for those near the top, it was well worth the time and effort as many walked home with at least some of the $400,000 in cash payouts and prizes which included saddles and other items.
Art Gallais, co-owner of the TRC, along with his wife Marion, bought into the idea of starting up the series as a business with another couple 15 years ago and felt the time was right to move the top event to Ponoka.
“We started out in Olds and have been in Calgary, but the time was right to come and try things out here,” he said in an interview between events Sept. 15.
“Being our first year here, we have been so happy and love how they work with us on everything. It’s been some long days though. Overall, the set up here was better than we have ever had and all of the competitors liked it as well.”
The TRC has 1,000 members that range in age from eight to 86 with a lot of families roping together and separately.
“When team roping changed how it operates in the early 1990s, moving from cards to a handicapping classification system, ropers were suddenly granted a fair chance to win and come away with money,” he said.
“The change also helped the sport to grow and prosper, bringing in a lot more young ropers, so it helped escalate the sport to where it is now. There are all kinds of kids coming up, in fact one 13 or 14-year old won an event here with his dad.
“One roper here alone walked away with around $35,000, so things have really started to escalate.”
Gallais added that the number of female ropers is also continuing to climb, as indicated by the large group that took part on the weekend as well as the 254 teams that competed at an event in Ponoka last month.
The event used about 15 employees to keep things going smoothly, from collecting registrations and entry fees to managing the steers to announcing and timing, in addition to the 300 head that Gallais noted were getting a bit tired by the end of the weekend.
Open: Dawson Graham and Keely Bonnett, 38.35 seconds (six runs); Super 10: Lorne Davey and Murray Linthicum, 70.73 (six runs); No. 8 shootout: Lorne Davey and Harold Baldwin 68.88 (six runs); No. 9 shootout: Allan Groeneveld and Dan Osadczuk 68.63 (six runs); No. 11 shootout: Travis Nickolson and Colter Dunn, 49.62 (six runs); No. 7: Don Leavitt and Brad Anderson, 44.54 (three runs); No. 12: Kavis Drake and Stacy Cornet, 46.21 (six runs); No. 14: Kavis Drake and Tyrel Flewelling, 43.76 (six runs); Century: Daryl Symington and Dan Osadczuk, 57.97 (six runs); Ladies: Denie Lynch and Brenna Chappel, 77.37 (five runs).