Buckle up for a busy Ponoka Stampede with thousands ready to converge on the community to see some of the best rodeo action in the world. Big dollars are up for grabs for competitors. File photo

Hammertime: Let loose for the Ponoka Stampede week

It’s time to buckle up for a busy Ponoka Stampede week

Mike Rainone


In and around this great little community of ours it doesn’t really matter if you are a rodeo fan or not, because most everyone just can’t help but getting caught up in the spirit and hoopla of the Wild West of 36 celebration, which this time around will be the 82nd gala edition of the annual Ponoka rodeo classic.

There is absolutely no doubt that our good old Ponoka Stampede showdown has come a long way since that very first one-day family show hit the ground way back in 1936 on exactly the same location that thousands of family fans will soon be invading once again from June 26th all the way to the super finals and showdowns on Monday, July 2nd. So now is the time for all of you super cool dudes of all ages to dig out your best western outfits, and get ready to let loose.

Whether we choose to join Canada’s best rodeo fans up in the bleachers for each and every performance, wagon race, or concert, spend lots of time out amongst the noisy West Coast Amusements midway rides and attractions, or spend time down at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex and around town, there is guaranteed to be seven days packed full of fun and frolic for the whole family. Along with seven thrilling days of action featuring the world’s best rodeo stars, specialty acts, and really tough and determined stock, the 6:30 p.m. evening performances will include the Kids Wild Pony Race and the thrilling chuckwagon racing, followed by red hot stage shows featuring: The Road Hammers on June 26th, the Talent Showcase on June 27th, and Trace Adkins on June 28th, all followed by the glorious fireworks displays. If you want to stick around for a while after the evening performances there will also be some free entertainment by live bands at the Stagecoach Saloon.

For those who love to listen to great knee-slapping music in the company of good friends the popular beer gardens and dances are set for Friday, June 29th and Saturday, June 30th, both at 8:30 p.m. down at the arena, with music provided by Trinity Bradshaw and Trevor Panczak. The very popular annual Chicks for Charity Champagne Brunch Ladies event is set for Saturday, June 23rd from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Stagecoach Saloon (tickets at 403-783-0100); as well as the wonderful Stampede Rodeo Challenge at 10:30 a.m. on June 30th at the infield of the main grandstand. Other delightful special events will include: the 10th annual ATB Outlaw Round-Up and pancake breakfast on Thursday, June 28th from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Ponoka Legion, a pancake breakfast and Cowboy Church Service at the main grandstand on Sunday, July 1st from 8 to 11 a.m. and the Canada Day BBQ at 11 a.m. in the IGA parking lot.

Another exciting special event going on throughout the Stampede will be lots of action over at the Calnash Ag Event Centre, where the skilled Canadian mounted shooters event will be held on June 27th to 29th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, followed by team roping on June 30th to July 1st from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and where everyone is welcome to browse through the Canadian Rodeo Hall of Fame upstairs.

The unique Ponoka Stampede western gift shop will be open June 29th to July 2nd from 10:15 a.m. to 6:15 at the arena, the Western Art Show and Sale will be hosted at the Tommy Dorchester Paddock from 10 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. daily from June 29th to July 1st, with the gala auction of paintings, sculptures, and original paintings featured on Sunday, July 1st at 4 p.m. at the Stagecoach Saloon.

The always popular Stampede Farmer’s Markets are set for June 25th to 27th from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the arena, and the fabulous three-mile long Ponoka Stampede Parade will begin rolling through town on Friday, June 29th at 10a.m. sharp, where the theme will be a salute to the Canada Winter Games, which will be held in Red Deer in February 2019. Please bring along the lawn chairs and grab your parade spot early, and don’t forget to cheer loudly for Canadian Olympic speed skating Champion Catriona Le May Doan and all the other fabulous entries in the parade.

1948 Ponoka Stampede salute poem

O, I say folks, Ponoka’s the town for skating and curling and hockey,

And during Stampedes, from miles around comes every cowboy and jockey;

For chuck-wagon races and chariot run, so hitch up those traces, the fun’s just begun.

Now open the chute, out comes a horse; He’s a stubborn brute, but the man is worse.

If you want to see a real action town…Ponoka’s the best that can be found.

Enjoy the Ponoka Stampede or whatever else you choose this forthcoming July long weekend at your pace, but please play and party safe, and have a great week, all of you.

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