This year’s 40-bred heifers have made the long trek to their new home to the delight of their new owner.
Jim Yablonski, along with his wife Diane who live near Meadow Lake, Sk., were the winners of the Ponoka Stampede’s annual cattle raffle after their ticket was drawn from among the 60 finalists during the rodeo Showdown on Sunday, July 3.
What’s unique about this year’s win isn’t the fact that he took the cattle – this is only the second time in quite a while that someone did – but it’s the reason they even had a shot to win in the first place.
“My brother and sister-in-law, Lawrence and Barb Yablonski, bought us the ticket as a gift for our 25th anniversary earlier this year,” said Yablonski when he came to the Stampede grounds on Tuesday, July 5 with a cattle hauler to retrieve the cattle.
“When they called, I was in some shock. It’s been two days and I’m still finding it hard to believe. Now I have a fence to fix when I get home.”
Yablonski used to have a cattle herd on their farm, but sold it off about 15 years ago when the beef industry took a huge hit in that province following the disease scares of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and anthrax. That was when he took on raising elk – he presently has a herd of 50 – and got into cleaning animal skulls using beetles to do the dirty work.
For the Ponoka Stampede, the cattle raffle has been a grand success since they began the draw back in 1993.
“It’s been a great project with great support from all of the local cattle owners and elsewhere,” said Jim Dodds, the Stampede director in charge of the raffle.
He added the reach of the 5,000 tickets that are made available continues to grow every year, with tickets being sold from one side of the country to the other.
The other 59 finalists were: Ponoka – Mike Olson, Gavin Epp, Vern McLeod, Norn Nelson, Lynnette Hycha, Rob Gauvreau, Wayne Boisjoli, Michael Yadlos, John Sorensen, Megan Nichols, Joan Gates, Nicole Rausch, Patti Pugh, Dunc Grant, Craig Haan, Denis Daudet; Lacombe – Derek Majerech, Marlene Kapiniak; Rimbey – Debbie Nagel, Brian Huseby; Duffield – Joe and Mavie Milne, Darrell Wagner; Wetaskiwin – Anne Kenyon, Don Hildebrand, Dan and Steven Shantz, Murray Brown and Ed Fedun, Simona Arnold and Marty Etherington; Alix – Rena Moulton and Jack Nielsen; other parts of Alberta – Vi Budzilka, Justin Rosadiuk, MJ Williams, Shane Ferster, Edward Frieson, Coleman Robinson, Paul and Maureen Radcliffe, Rick Landmark, Philip Laurie, Wilma Staggs, Dave Mailer, Gordon McFadden, Al and Sara Finshan, Les Scobey, Miles Tomaszesky, Dale Brown, Ann Nicholson, Parker Hughes, Peter and Nicole Brown, M. Lespevance, Dennis Olstad, Dale Erickson, L and N Christienson, Gary Torpe, Jeff Desutter; Joyce Smith of Chilliwack, B.C. and Darrell Schwartz from Congress, Arizona.