Ag event centre brings more fun during Stampede

Rodeo fans had their choice of where to entertain themselves during the Ponoka Stampede.

Rodeo fans had their choice of where to entertain themselves during the Ponoka Stampede. Not only was the pro rodeo and chuckwagon action in full force, the Calnash Ag Event Centre brought two events people would not normally see.

From June 25 to 27, the Canadian Cowboy Mounted Shooters Association (CCSMA) brought fast horses, Colt ’45s and even rifles to their Canadian Finals Mounted Shooters. The firearms were loaded with blanks and contestants had to pop balloons as fast as possible.

More than $27,000 was added in prizes, bringing the total purse to $40,000, says Don Litvak, director and organizer with the CCSMA. “We had bigger and better sponsors.”

This is the second time the association has come to the event centre during the Stampede and Litvak hopes to continue with the program.

The top winners were able to show off their stuff in the grandstands June 28. The top five men with pistols, the top three women with pistols and the top two rifle competitors brought their A game to the grandstands.

One of fastest growing equine sports in North America has only one thing holding them back — pistol laws. Despite using blanks, those wanting to get involved must be certified to use the firearms and that takes time, explained Litvak.

He suggests those who want to try mounted shooting should contact him to set up a clinic or even to see how they function. Horses need to be trained as well and this too can take some time. “Guns and horses is a pretty good combination.”

“It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on,” he added.

There were 82 competitors from Western Canada and the United States.

For more information contact Litvak at 403-740-2853 or

In Ponoka News’ Stampede special section it was stated the Alberta Mounted Shooters Association would be competing.

This was incorrect.

The group was the CCSMA. We apologize for the error.

Penning triples in size at ag centre

Last year there were 260 teams at the cattle penning event hosted by the Ponoka Agricultural Society. This year brought 767, says organizer and Ponoka Ag Event Society director, Link Drynan. “It was an overwhelming response.”

Total payout this year is $100,000, one class had a payout of $25,000.

“Which is pretty much unheard of,” stated Drynan.

He believes many cowboys came to compete at the ag event centre rather than the Calgary Stampede. To meet the needs of this many teams, Drynan worked with Parkland Farms from Falun, who has more than 5,000 head of cattle.

“A phenomenal cattle supplier…They’ve been a really big asset for us,” he added.

There were many local competitors as well as people from around Western Canada and some from Texas. At one point Drynan had two pens going at once, as soon as one group finished, he would turn around and judge a team, while the next group prepared behind him. “It worked extremely well.”

Volunteers and penners competed from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. the next morning, June 29, and although Drynan was pleased with the numbers, he feels they will either restrict the number of teams or possibly try to add another day to the contest. He thanked the volunteers for their dedication, some of which worked from 5 a.m. to midnight and then returned early the next morning to help.

The sponsors also helped drive interest. “We had some phenomenal sponsors. Without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

Grant Sterling, chairman of the Penning Classic committee, enjoyed the weekend. “It’s always nice to have a show like this in relation to the Stampede.”

He believes penning is growing at a healthy rate and is eager to see what the next few years will bring. The Penning Classic has also changed its home to the Calnash Ag Event Centre. “The ag centre, the Penning Classic and Calgary Stampede show the demand.”

“None of them are faltering,” he added.