Canadian Olympic speed skater, and Olympic medallist, Catriona Le May Doan will be this year’s Ponoka Stampede parade marshall.
With the 2018 Ponoka Stampede just over a month away, the Ponoka business community got an update on the 2018 edition of the rodeo.
Stampede president Blair Vold spoke to the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce May 15 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre.
“This year’s parade theme is focused on the 2019 Canada Winter Games (CWG) in Red Deer. We are proud to support this in a joint sponsorship with the Town of Ponoka,” he said, “And we are excited to have Catriona Le May Doan as our parade marshall.”
Vold added the hope is the partnership will help showcase the Stampede to a new audience, noting a strong contingent of CWG staff and sponsors will be entertained during the week-long rodeo. The hope is this could draw more sponsorship to the Stampede in the future.
“Ponoka is now among the top 10 richest rodeos in North America and is now the only Canadian stop on the U.S. Wrangler Pro Rodeo Tour,” he stated.
“Being able to offer that kind of prize money and keeping the tickets reasonably priced for families is really due to our sponsorships and we are very fortunate to have the support we do. Being able to enhance that sponsorship will help keep rodeo alive and will be a big part of what we do in the future.”
Vold noted a few of the highlights for this year include a new trick-riding show during the rodeo performances and country music superstar Trace Adkins’ concert to go along with a bigger field of rodeo competitors and a number of new chuckwagon drivers.
One item that won’t be back this year is the pre-Stampede bullriding showcase, with Vold explaining the event just wasn’t getting the support the Stampede board thought it would and that something like it may return in the future.
Stampede midway area being paved
Vold also spoke to the two big construction projects the Stampede has prioritized, the first of which is currently underway.
The midway area, that is also used for parking the rest of the year, is in the process of being paved while the recently announced new luxury suite grandstand construction won’t start until August.
“The new 16 suite grandstand will include a rooftop bar with a 360 degree view that will also be available for other events year-round,” he stated.
“It’s exciting, but it’s going to cost a lot, which is another reason more sponsorship money is important.”
The added capacity with the new grandstand will bring overall potential attendance for a single performance to over 10,000.
Chamber president Barry Grant noted the recent trade fair went well, with 30 per cent of floor filled with Chamber members while some of the new vendors helped with the positive growth of the event.
That said, some improvements are still needed as the curling rink attendance wasn’t as anticipated and the move to half-booths weren’t big enough for most vendors.
And, due to a conflict with Lacombe, the 2019 trade fair will run April 12 and 13 — two weeks earlier than usual.
In other news, the chamber is looking into setting up a speaker series featuring guests and topics of interest two or three times during the year. Grant stated this is in the planning stages with the hope of having the first session in September.