Defending Ponoka Stampede WPCA champion Kurt Bensmiller took in $25,000 during the Ponoka Stampede tarp auction May 4. The sale brought in a strong $375,750, up $57,000 from 2017. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Ponoka Stampede tarp auction breaks $375,000 mark

The development of a new corporate suites with stands was announced at the auction

A total of $375,500 came through Ponoka for the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) tarp auction.

Held at the Stagecoach Saloon May 4, the auction featured the 36 WPCA drivers who will compete for six nights of speed and horses at this year’s Ponoka Stampede. The amount raised is $57,000 more than last year.

For Blair Vold, Stampede president, the auction is not only a showcase of great chuckwagon racers, it continues a strong western heritage.

“I’m always excited with Ponoka. It’s been a traditional heritage rodeo forever and we’ve kept that focus,” said Blair.

Despite being among the largest paying rodeos in North America, Ponoka manages to keep that traditional heritage alive.

Chuckwagon auctions rebounding

If the recent tarp auction sales are any indication, the economy looks to be coming out of a slump.

In Ponoka for example, defending Ponoka champion Kurt Bensmiller took in $25,000, which was $7,000 more than last year.

WPCA president Ed Wittchen said the Calgary Stampede tarp auction hit the $2.4 million mark, which was more than $800,000 from 2017. “It was the fourth largest tarp auction in Calgary history.”

He pointed out that in 2017 there were several wagons under $60,000. However, at this year’s Calgary Stampede auction, the lowest bid was $60,000. “Calgary had nine new sponsors to the sport.”

The same could be said for the auction in Grand Prairie. Wittchen says the association is seeing more groups coming together to bid on a wagon, which has been a boon for the sport and drivers.

Things are moving well for the WPCA, added Wittchen, who pointed out that in previous years there used to be a cash call mid-season from the WPCA to ensure operations could continue. Now, events and programs such as the WPCA radio show are seeing a profit.

Wittchen loves bringing the races to Ponoka. “Here, between the rodeo and us, we are the show.”

He pointed out that many of the drivers, sponsors and members of the Stampede association have been working together for decades. “Other than Calgary it’s our best purse,” added Wittchen.

Development of new stands announced

The tarp auction also brought the big announcement that the Ponoka Stampede Association will develop new luxury suites.

In an interview with Allison McWilliam, the director of suite operations and sales for the association, the premium Wild West Suites are something that has customers buzzing with excitement. “The Ponoka Stampede hasn’t had suite availability in forever,” said McWilliam.

The rooftop has seating for 150 people and a capacity for 350 people and eight more suites will go along with that. Companies that are taking them can purchase multi-year deals, which gives those companies a chance to brand the suites with their own logos if they want.

They will be built on the southwest side of the stands in clear view of the bucking shoots.

“It’s going to be an all-new, all-suites grandstand,” said McWilliam.

Construction on the specialty suites is set to start after this year’s Stampede and should be ready for 2019.

The entire suite experience is being enhanced, and the new building will be more handicap accessible and have a range of features. Demand for the suites is high.

She’s excited to see this new space being developed and McWilliam added that she’s already started to receive deposits on suites.


The Ponoka Stampede Association announced during the tarp auction the development of new corporate suites. Set be built on the southwest side of the infield, construction is expected to begin right after the 2018 edition of the Stampede. Stampede illustration

A big announcement at the Ponoka Stampede tarp auction was the announcement of a whole new set of corporate suites with stands above to go on the southwest side of the Stampede grounds. Construction is set for right after the 2018 edition of the Ponoka Stampede. Stampede illustration

Just Posted

WCPS uses cannabis legislation to fully review drug, alcohol and tobacco policies

Cannabis is not permitted in schools; WCPS focused on providing education and support

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

Alberta readies itself for cannabis sales with 17 stores (for now) and a new provincial website

Ponoka mayor & council takes on province for recreation funding

Mayor Rick Bonnett wants school requisition for three years

Ponoka County on the hook for rubber tire shredder

Cost of large shredder may yet fall completely on county as problems arise

Ponoka council approved a cannabis retail sales bylaw

Along with retail sales, the cannabis consumption bylaw was approved

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

Legalized marijuana sparks conversation on social stigmas

Ponoka area resident Mitchell Calkins enjoyed some cannabis on the first day of legalization

After 50 years, ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird puppeteer retiring

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Britain, EU decide to take some time in getting Brexit right

Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said “we need much time, much more time and we continue to work in the next weeks.”

Parole denied for convicted killer-rapist Paul Bernardo after 25 years in prison

Paul Bernardo plead for release on Wednesday by arguing he has done what he could to improve himself during his 25 years in prison.

B.C. Lions look to cement CFL playoff spot with victory over Eskimos

B.C. can cement a post-season berth in the wild West Division on Friday night with a home win over the Edmonton Eskimos

Canada ban on asbestos takes effect but mining residues are exempt

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna plans to announce the new regulations implementing the ban on Thursday in Ottawa

Most Read