The Ponoka Stampede tarp auction continues to bring the biggest names in the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) to town.
Not only the drivers and riders, but also the companies that want to showcase those drivers on the WPCA circuit, converged on Ponoka May 5 at the Stagecoach Saloon, which saw three drivers each take a top bid of $18,000: Kurt Bensmiller for West Industrial, Chad Harden for Image Distributors and Troy Dorchester for Team Rig and Supply/PureChem Services.
The next highest bid went to Rick Fraser for Friends of Team 23 at $14,000.
Ponoka Stampede president Blair Vold has always enjoyed the auction, which paves the way for six nights of chuckwagon racing. “What an opportunity with all the fans we’ve got. It puts a lot of the sponsors together with the chuckwagon families and the chuckwagon drivers.”
“It’s a real heritage deal that we’ve been a part of for many years,” said Vold.
Before the big sale started a print of this year’s Stampede Poster, which features legendary Ponoka cowboy Bud Butterfield, went up for auction. While folks hoped for a chance to get the print, it was his family who ensured the winning bid on the poster.
With 80,000 tickets sold on average each year, Ponoka has become a real draw for the western heritage sport but also for the fast action that comes with the races.
Chuckwagon races didn’t come to Ponoka until the 1940s, explained Vold, but before that fans were able to watch Roman riding and chariot races, which eventually built up to the WPCA races. He also pointed out that there are quite a few racers who have made a family affair of the experience, the Sutherland, Dorchester, Flad and Gorst families to name a few.
Another celebration of the night was the official crowning of Michele Greer as Miss Ponoka Stampede for 2017. She takes over the crown from Jadey van der Vlis who held the crown as Miss Ponoka Stampede 2016.
Sutherland charity race
After decades of racing in the WPCA this will be Kelly Sutherland’s last year.
To commemorate his many years of racing a special one-of-a-kind race is being held the first Tuesday of the Stampede, explained Vold. Right after the rodeo performance Kelly will race with Kirk, Mark and grandson Dayton. Three generations of Sutherlands racing together for one race only.
“You’ll never see this race again in Ponoka,” said Vold.
“It’ll be a pretty special night. You’ll get to see history in the making.”
A special tarp auction was held right after the main auction, which raised $23,000 for the event. The Sutherlands announced they are donating half of the proceeds to the Ponoka Festival of Trees and the other half to their Pacekids program in Calgary.
Full auction results:
Kurt Bensmiller – West Industrial – $18,000
Chad Harden – Image Distributors – $18,000
Troy Dorchester – Team Rig and Supply/PureChem Services – $18,000
Rick Fraser – Friends of Team 23 – $14,000
Obrey Motowylo – H and E Oilfield Services Ltd. – $13,000
Codey McCurrach – King Oilfield – $12,000
Kelly Sutherland – Red Deer Motors – $12,000
Blaid Flad – Compass Access Solutions Ltd. – $12,000
Troy Flad – Ironwood Building Corp. – $10,500
John Walters – Pidherney’s – $10,000
Luke Tournier – Eagle Builders – $9,500
Mark Sutherland – Vold Jones and Vold Auctions – $9,000
Doug Irvine – B and R Eckel’s Transport Ltd. – $9,000
Mitch Sutherland – Adams Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd. – $9,000
Colt Cosgrave – High River Autoplex and RV – $8,500
Gary Gorst – Big Valley Ranch – $8,000
Cody Ridsdale – Triple K Oilfield Services – $8,000
Roger Moore – Bobcat of Camrose/Ray’s Trailer Sales – $7,500
Jason Glass – Birchcliff Energy Ltd. – $7,500
Dustin Gorst – Flying Dust First Nation – $7,500
Layne MacGillivray – Camrose Glass and Overhead Doors – $7,500
Kirk Sutherland – Stagecoach Saloon – $7,000
Jordie Fike – Morskate Manufacturing – $7,000
Darcy Flad – Wetaskiwin Ready Mix – $7,000
Vern Nolin – Tunstone Venture Corp. – $6,500
Chad Fike – Safari Club International Calgary Chapter – $6,500
Ross Knight – The Kidz Wagon – $6,500
Logan Gorst – Sheer Luxury – $6,000
Mike Vigen – Big Valley Ranch – $6,000
Cliff Cunningham – Big Valley Ranch – $6,000
Chanse Vigen – Go Uncle Ben’s RV – $6,000
Dayton Sutherland – Midwest Pipelines Inc. – $6,000
Layne Bremner – Horseshoe Paving Ltd. – $5,000
Evan Salmond – Calnash Trucking – $4,750
Curtis Morin – Busted Ladies Lingerie – $4,750
Jim Knight – Arena Beer Gardens – $4,500
The auction was $12,000 under last year’s total dollars.