The dust has settled and the numbers are in: 72,939 tickets were sold for this year’s Ponoka Stampede; the number even exceeded last year’s 75th annual Stampede.
In the Stampede Showdown, two Ponoka competitors performed to a large hometown crowd; Luke Butterfield in saddle bronc riding, and Tyrell Gordon as the heeler in team roping with partner Tel Flewelling from Lacombe.
Butterfield went a few seconds before he was bucked off his bronc. He was disappointed in the results, but proud to compete in his hometown. “I’ve never made it this far in Ponoka.”
Despite not finishing his ride, Butterfield felt positive about the experience.
“It’s a world class rodeo from the cowboy’s perspective.”
Butterfield is a third generation cowboy and a fourth generation resident of Ponoka. He was grateful to Ponoka for supporting such a large rodeo. “I thank everybody that puts this rodeo on. I can’t stress how great a rodeo it is.”
He headed to Red Lodge, Mont. right after the Stampede to compete in another rodeo.
Gordon, with his partner Flewelling, had a quick start to the team roping challenge, but had a five-second penalty after roping only one leg. Despite the miss, both were proud of their accomplishments.
They started working together in May and their training paid off to bring them into the Showdown. Gordon has been team roping since he was eight years old and his dream came true. “I got my dream to compete in my home town arena.”
Flewelling said his parents were team ropers and he felt team roping was something to try. Both will compete in an amateur rodeo this weekend.
As this year’s Stampede closed, members of the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association are already planning for next year. President Rick Wierzba said the goal is to entertain and put on a solid rodeo.
Director Blair Vold felt having local competitors in the Showdown was a testament to the town. “That shows what comes out of Ponoka.”
Wierzba said they plan to bring other events each year to draw larger crowds. “We keep getting good acts in.”
With the full seven days complete the winners for each event were:
• Dusty Lavalley, bareback riding, 90 points.
• Clif Cooper, tie-down roping, 8.3 seconds.
• Tanner Milan, steer wrestling, 5 seconds.
• Riley Wilson and Clay Ullery, team roping, 5.6 seconds.
• Denver Daines, saddle bronc, 84 points.
• Carlee Rae Pierce, barrel racing, 17.307 seconds.
• No qualified rides for bull riding. Scott Schiffner was the overall champion.