The future filled with heritage and tradition, sprinkled with a few new items, is what fans of the Ponoka Stampede can look forward to.
That’s where new president Blair Vold plans to lead the Ponoka Stampede Association after being acclaimed as president at the organization’s annual general meeting held on Oct. 31. Vold, who was vice-president for the past two years, will hold the post for the next two. That moves Mike Stretch to the post of past-president and Bruce Harbin was acclaimed as the new vice-president.
This will be Vold’s third time taking on the role and there’s been big changes since his first stint.
“Back then, the Stampede was just five days. What probably has been the biggest change is there were no concerts then,” he said in an interview following the meeting.
“It’s been quite the transition and been a good revenue source, as is the introduction of the PBR event. A definite focus for us going forward and a key is bringing those things back, but also expanding somewhat. It’s an important part of the Stampede now and been great in providing fans some big stars for a very reasonable price.”
Vold added that the free camping with tickets and keeping those prices at the same level was appreciated by ticket buyers as the event broke an attendance record.
“Some people enjoyed this as a holiday and wanted to be a part of the Stampede. It’s also due to our great volunteer base, who are just tremendous and we couldn’t do it without them,” he said.
As well, the Stampede recognizes that contribution through giving back to the community, something not a lot of people understand. Stretch explained that about $330,000 was put back through direct support to various groups and employing partners to operate facilities during the week-long event with Ponoka receiving an estimated $10 million in economic activity during the Stampede.
For Stretch, the past two years as president was an exciting experience and he knows the board will continue to build upon what some regard as his legacy.
“Our attendance was up and it was great to see our sponsors stick with us in these lean times,” he said.
“It was nice to have some on the board thank me for being able to bring people together in order to make the event work and for making the association more visible. I very much appreciate that and hope that is part of the legacy I left behind.”
As for the future, Vold knows there are some proven good ideas out there the board will be following up on for all aspects of the event. It’s his hope to check those out and revamp some segments in order to make improvements, while never forgetting the heritage and tradition of the Stampede.
Following the tornado scare this past year, the Stampede is in discussions with the town on strengthening its emergency management plan.
Vold stated they do have one in place, but that it was found there is a need to address some issues that were raised and that they are moving ahead on developing a new plan in conjunction with the town. He also said they are researching ideas from rodeos in the United States to see how to better address issues surrounding campers and livestock in an emergency.
Despite the difficult economy, the financial status of the Stampede remains fairly strong as Gord Parker from Roland, Parker and Associates presented the audited financial statements to the board.
While this year the event attracted a record number of fans, revenue from the Stampede — including ticket sales, sponsorships, tarp auction, posters and other items — was down around $42,000 over last year, to $2.228 million while food and beverage sales at $508,000 was also down by close to $50,000. The new PBR event brought in almost $169,000, a jump of $60,000 from the Jace Harty Memorial held in 2015, but gaming and facilities rental revenue was lower with gaming bringing about $469,000 (a drop of $12,000) and rentals at $189,000 (down $21,000).
On the expense side, direct cost to run the Stampede — such as prize money and costs for the poster and auction — increased by $44,000 to $1.468 million. Also up were the costs for the newest event, the PBR, which saw close to $147,000 spent as compared to just $68,000 last year on the Jace Harty Memorial, as well as what was spent on food and beverages coming in nearly $7,000 more at about $226,000.
Where the Stampede managed to save money was slashing the gaming costs nearly in half, spending just $130,000 compared to the $225,000 in 2015. Overall though, spending was down in 2016 by $108,000 and that managed to get the Stampede into the black by $10,000 — a drop of more than $50,000 from the year before.
There were a few changes to the board directors:
New directors: Rick Cline, Tyler Fessler and Brad Raugust, three-year terms
Directors: Jason Cline, Greg Gordon, Gary Harbin and Dale Olsen. President Blair Vold, vice-president Bruce Harbin and past president Mike Stretch.