The trailers, cowboys and animals have all left Ponoka and as the dust settles from a hot week of rodeo action, Stampede president Mike Stretch remembers the good times.
While it may not have been completely sold out crowds, Stretch said the final showdown was completely sold out and was a favourite day of the week. He enjoyed seeing a high caliber of rodeo athletes make there way into town.
“We had a lot of North American top cowboys and cowgirls participating with good stock,” said Stretch.
He suggested that the rodeo stock improves every year and feels it is a strong draw for the athletes.
With all the rodeo action over the week, Stretch quite enjoyed the quality races of the World Professional Chuckwagon Association.
“We had some of the greatest chuckwagon racing with some of the closest heat times,” said Stretch.
Another area he is proud of is the strength of hundreds of volunteers that help make the event possible. “It’s just outstanding to see how many will come back year after year.”
A volunteer appreciation banquet was held Friday, July 3 at the Stagecoach Saloon to thank them for all their help. While the rodeo is over, the stampede committee is already looking at ideas for next year’s event, 80th anniversary Ponoka Stampede.
First time for Miss Rodeo America in Canada
This was the first year a Miss Rodeo America attended the Ponoka Stampede, let alone a Canadian rodeo.
For Lauren Heaton, 2015 Miss Rodeo America, this was a fun experience and the start of a positive relationship. A recommendation from Miss Rodeo Canada, Katy Lucas, to visit the Ponoka Stampede helped convince Heaton and her board of directors.
“All she has been doing is rave about the Ponoka Stampede,” said Heaton.
“This is hands down the best rodeo I’ve been to,” said Heaton.
She praised the organizing committee, the volunteers and professional cowboys coming from around North America, for making the event worth the trip.
She added that for the last 60 years, the Miss Rodeo America organization has been a strong advocate for the sport of rodeo.
“We’re doing media. We’re doing all sorts of promotional things to get people excited about the rodeo,” said Heaton.
She expects to travel about 350 days this year promoting the sport. Lucas was last year’s Ponoka Stampede Queen.