Diamond Jubilee dazzles

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  • Jul. 6, 2011 5:00 p.m.

CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News

When the last bull came roaring out of the chute July 3 — a Northcott bull named Challenger that Denton Edge rode to the tune of 86-points — there must have been a collective sigh of relief from the Ponoka Stampede Association.

The 15 directors and countless organizers and volunteers worked long hours, often into the early morning, to make sure the 75th edition of the Ponoka Stampede went off without a hitch.

“I think we had a really successful show and we had lots of compliments throughout the whole week,” said Rick Wierzba, president of the stampede association. “It was very well attended and one of our better years overall.”

More than 72,500 spectators came through the gates to watch the best rodeo competitors in the world in Canada’s largest seven-day rodeo.

“We were very fortunate with the weather as well, and everything seemed to get away pretty good,” said Wierzba.

The thrill of the night was the Tommy Dorchester $50,000 Dash for Cash when Kelly Sutherland narrowly edged his son Mark by 0.01 seconds in a photo finish at the line.

“It was very exciting and to win it by one-one-hundredth of a second, it doesn’t get any closer than that,” explained Wierzba.

He had a special message for the volunteers.

“Thank you very, very much” said Wierzba. “All the volunteers and the fans, we couldn’t do it without them and we’ll have our volunteer supper Wednesday (July 6) to tell them again, how much we appreciate them.”

Wierzba is in his first year as the president of the association and admitted the weeklong event had taken its toll but he was already planning and looking forward to next year.

“It’s a good feeling that things did go as well as they did,” he said. “There are lots of people in town for the whole week and I thought the shows were great. We’re already planning for next year and our theme will salute the oil and gas industry, so we’re looking forward to working with their industry and acknowledging them for all they bring to Alberta.”