After a lengthy deliberation on June 1, the Ponoka Stampede Association (PSA) board of directors made the decision to postpone the 2021 Ponoka Stampede.
“The general consensus of the board after a three-hour discussion was there were too many uncertainties,” said PSA president Bruce Harbin in an interview with Ponoka News.
The board had been optimistic after the province’s announcement on May 26 after the phased reopening plan, but the ultimate decision was the timeline was too tight for the possible easing of restrictions.
A decision on Phase II of the province’s reopening plan is expected June 10. If Phase II were to go ahead, the PSA would have been able to hold the Stampede with 30 per cent of their seating capacity.
They could hope for Phase III, but it wouldn’t have come in time for the scheduled start of the Ponoka Stampede.
“The most over-used word used at our board meeting was ‘if,’” he said.
“We’d better build on bed rock rather than if’s.”
Harbin says it was decided it was smarter to wait and see if the restrictions are fully lifted and an opportunity arises for the Stampede to be held in July or August.
With other events being cancelled, there are dates available, but before any planning can go forward, the board needs to know when restrictions will be fully lifted.
He stressed that planning can’t go ahead until they have a date free of restrictions.
Harbin says that for 85 years they’ve been building the brand of the Ponoka Stampede, and they want to deliver the best possible Ponoka Stampede, that is also safe for the community.
Had the PSA kept the original dates (June 28 to July 4, 2021) no competitors currently in the United States, whether they’re American or the top Canadian athletes currently rodeoing in the States, would be able to cross the border due to current border restrictions and quarantine requirements.
According to Harbin, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association had been concerned that if the Ponoka Stampede had been approved under the current border restrictions, that dollars won in Ponoka and trips for stock would have been relevant for national and world standings.
Whenever the border opens, restrictions are lifted and the Ponoka Stampede is able to go ahead, he expects cowboys will be “ready, willing and able” to compete.
The PSA will be monitoring the situation with Alberta Health Services and Premier Jason Kenney’s plan for reopening Alberta.
Current ticket holders will be contacted by mid-June.
“I look forward to putting the pandemic behind us,” said Harbin.