OPINION: Buckle up, it’s Ponoka Stampede time

Western Canada’s largest seven-day pro-rodeo has arrived, buckle up for the ride

Buckle up folks for the Ponoka Stampede has arrived.

Ponoka News staff have just completed another 40-page Ponoka Stampede supplement highlighting all that is related to the rodeo. This special edition (now award-winning) takes many hours and work on the part of all Ponoka News staff, but it’s worth it.

While the Stampede comes with some controversy in the community, the reality is there are countless local associations and groups thriving in Ponoka thanks to this busy week.

It’s a lot of work for organizers but the work brings benefits for those who have the foresight to see what comes from those many busy hours. And yes, it’s a ton of hours.

The Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association came together and had the imagination to grow the rodeo (you know, Wainwright used to be bigger) and residents ended up coming along for the ride, some unwittingly.

Yes, it’s a lot of work and yes, it really creates a challenge when taking left turns but ask the groups who help out during the Stampede — year after year — how it benefits them. Their answers may surprise even the toughest critics.

Then there’s the countless volunteers who spend their days helping out with the numerous tasks that come with the busy week. From vehicle parking, to levelling the rodeo grounds, to providing support for the Rodeo Challenge, to clean up, to security. The list goes on but these folks know and understand what Stampede is all about.

For those who aren’t sure about the whole Stampede thing, ask these folks why they do it. For many, and I can’t speak for everyone, I imagine it’s that they see the benefits to this small community that is Ponoka.

There are also countless individuals who are well-respected within the rodeo industry who grew up in Ponoka and are part of the rodeo. Ponoka Stampede is renown for its old time rodeo feel that brings in the pros and the big bucks; broncs and cash. It’s as western as it gets and it’s all set in the little Town of Ponoka, population 7,000.

While there are challenges that come with the rodeo there are also good things that come with the experience. For my part, it’s a time to dust off the old cowboy hat — any cowboy will tell you it’s not a real cowboy hat — and bring out the camera gear.

After five years of photographing the Ponoka Stampede the gems are in the details and that’s exactly what one hopes to capture.

Ponoka News will be updating daily on ponokanews.com with photos and highlights of Stampede and we invite you to come along for the ride.

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