By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Ponoka News
After sitting idle for nearly 18 months, the chuckwagons are returning to Ponoka.
And that is not all that is in store for the community Sept. 2 to 5.
The Wild West Chuckwagon Championship will be held from Sept. 2 to 5 along with a variety of other activities, including a tradeshow, a Pony Express style race with a $5000 prize purse, a stock-dog show, an exhibition of the Junior Jockeys of Flying Cross Ranch and an evening of bullriding action with a stop of the Canadian Professional Bull Riding tour on Sept. 4.
“This is basically the night show of the Ponoka Stampede,” said Ponoka Stampede President Bruce Harbin.
“There should be lots of excitement. I’m hoping for a full slate of 36 wagons. At this time, it sounds like we are close to that.”
In addition to the full size chuckwagons, who will be competing under the World Professional Chuckwagon Association banner, the event will also be hosting pony chuckwagon events, bringing a good mix to the show.
According to Harbin, the support from the community has been overwhelming.
“The County of Ponoka and the Town of Ponoka have really stepped up to support this event,” said Harbin.
“Thursday night there will be a free beef-on-a-bun supper, sponsored by the Town and the County. I’m overwhelmed with that level of support.”
On Sept. 2, the gates will open at 5 p.m. allowing ticket holders to get their beef on a bun before taking their seats in the stands for the show, which is starting on 6 p.m.
“We’ve missed lots of events at the Stampede Grounds due to Covid,” said Rick Klein, who is organizing the supper.
“This is just a way to celebrate reopening as a community, (and) getting together as a community again. It is awesome to see our municipal leadership come together, (and) work together for the benefit of the community.”
Also, during one of the days will be a Ranch Horse Relay Race, a sponsored event with no entry fees.
“Each team consists of three people and three horses,” said Harbin.
“The rider is given a mail bag and has to ride each horse around the track for one lap each. All the riders start at the same time, and the first one to run all three laps with the mail bag around his arm is the winner. We thought it would be a fun event for anyone local, or anyone with three fast horses.”
Up for grabs in the race will be a $5000 prize.
On the Saturday evening, starting at 6 p.m. will be the Wild West PBR Bull Riding Classic.
The format for the bull riding will be a long-go and short-go style event with 25 riders competing in the long-go, before the top 10 come back in the short-go for the championship round.
Five contractors will be supplying the stock for the event, and with the southern border still closed will mainly feature competitors from western Canada.
“It’s going to be a top show, with top guys, definitely,” said primary stock contractor Nansen Vold.
After the bulls finish on the Saturday night, there will be a concert at the grounds, with an artist to be determined.
“There’s going to be something going all day long,” said Harbin.
“$120 will get you in for the whole weekend, which is pretty affordable, and probably a pretty enjoyable thing to do before we look at winter.”