The Almita Piling jumbotron was a big hit in its debut year at the 83rd annual Ponoka Stampede. Photo by Emily Jaycox

Ponoka Stampede attendance up from last year

Positive feedback received about jumbotron

A total of 80,000 people came through the gates of the 83rd annual Ponoka Stampede, which is up by about 4,700 people from last year’s attendance.

“We’re happy with the numbers given the weather,” said Ponoka Stampede Association (PSA) president Bruce Harbin.

The PSA received a lot of positive comments, says Harbin, adding the volunteers “do a lot of good work.”

People also seemed pleased with the look of the grounds, with the new Wild West suites and the panoramic view from the rooftop of the chuckwagons and the town, says Harbin.

The Almita Piling jumbotron sound quality proved to be “second-to-none” and was well-received at the rodeo performances and the stage concerts.

About the only negative feedback he heard was that the sound from behind the screen could be improved with some filler speakers as the sound system was west-facing.

All of the concerts were well attended but Washboard Union had the most interaction with the fans, says Harbin, as the Canadian band was onsite for the whole day, “walking around the midway eating burritos,” he said,.

Harbin added they were very down-to-earth, “good-hearted guys” and they may have stood out just a little bit with their beards.

Lee Brice performed on a rainy night, but the fans still came out to that concert as well.

The enhanced Mammoth Beer Gardens with the VIP party booth drew a larger attendance this year as well, and the Friday night dance was well-attended, perhaps because the weather outside was poor, says Harbin.

The volunteer appreciation dinner for the just over 800 Ponoka Stampede volunteers was fairly well represented, with almost half of the volunteers being able to attend, with 383 tickets being given out. The dinner was held July 3, though some volunteers may have already left town.

Harbin says they were hoping for more to attend, but the number that came “represented a good portion of the volunteers.”

All the volunteers who attended received a door prize.

The directors are currently gathering feedback and are already planning on how they can make next year even bigger and better.

Harbin says the PSA are busy answering questions and signing some cheques but they’re “working on 2020 right now.” He thanks everyone who came to, performed and worked at, the 83rd annual Ponoka Stampede and hopes they “enjoyed it enough to come back.”

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