By Adam Eisenbarth
Homegrown talent was on display at the 74th Ponoka Stampede.
Seven Ponoka competitors advanced to the rodeo finals on Sunday afternoon, a matchup of the top 12 in each event from the week’s go-rounds.
While none of the Ponoka competitors moved on to the Showdown, it was an impressive week, one that most were pleased with.
“I always wish I could win more, I’m kind of greedy, but I’m happy. I wish I could have made the four round but it’s been a good week,” said Luke Butterfield on Sunday after finishing sixth in the saddle bronc finals. He ended up being the brightest local star however, when he was named all around champion on Sunday evening.
Butterfield has been in a few Ponoka Stampedes now, but the excitement of the hometown rodeo hasn’t worn off.
“It’s been a dream to compete here and it’s always been a goal to make it back. It’s the best rodeo in Canada and it’s pretty neat to have your hometown rodeo be one of the best in North America.”
Barrel racer Shayna Dodds took a tumble in the finals as her horse took a sharp turn around the barrel, giving her a no-time. “She turns hard. I just was popped up and wasn’t ready for it.”
While she may have walked away a little sore, her enthusiasm for the week remained, even moments after the incident.
“This is the first time I’ve made it to the short go here and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Dodds had a strong week. She was in third place going into the finals. “There’s good days and there’s bad days and you take the good ones when you can get them.”
She wasn’t the only cowgirl to compete in the barrel racing finals. Dee Butterfield entered in sixth but came just short of a spot in the final four with her sixth-place finish.
“Of course it’s always nice to make it to the top but I was really pleased with how my horse worked.” She was riding a fairly young horse and hasn’t been competing full-time in the past few years, so the result was a positive. “I was very happy with it.”
A pair of local steer wrestlers also competed in the finals.
Both Brock and Chance Butterfield were pleased with their results on the week.
“It was pretty good. I came in, my first run was pretty decent and came back and my second horse kind of cut me off a little bit and we had a few problems,” said Chance. The run made for a challenge to reach the final four, but he nearly pulled it off.
“In all honesty, I came in at the 12 spot and realistically I probably shouldn’t have gotten that close but I had a hell of a run there and things kind of fell into place.”
Chance finished sixth, 1.3 seconds off the four spot.
Brock came in right behind him in seventh.
“It wasn’t quite as good as I would have liked to have had but I’ve never really had much luck here in the past.”
The pressure can mount in your hometown rodeo, and the two Butterfield steer wrestlers have different ways of looking at the big event.
“I don’t really look at it being the hometown rodeo, for me it’s just another rodeo,” said Brock.
For Chance however, it’s a much different feeling.
“This is one of the only rodeos that I still get pretty nervous going into. It’s not just the set up that it’s hometown, it’s the magnitude of what’s on the line. There’s a lot of money here and you can make or break your year.”
Both however, recognize what a spectacular event it is.
“Thanks to the committee and thanks to the volunteers who make this rodeo what it is,” said Chance.
Ponoka was also represented in the only team event in rodeo. Tyrell Gordon and Kenton Fawcett entered the finals in the 11 spot and worked their way up to a ninth place finish.