By Tiffany Williams
The sixth annual Jace Harty Memorial Bull Riding event saw some cowboys get bucked off their bulls even before they got out of their chutes and others have some of their best rides ever to make the event a great success.
It was held four miles west of Ponoka at Duane and Vicky Robinson’s ranch with over 1,200 people in attendance on June 23.
“It was one of our best years yet,” said Patrick Lentz, one of the organizers. “There was a lot of community support. I think the crowd is great and hopefully everyone sees what it is all about.”
Harty passed way in October 2002 in a tragic automobile accident and the event is to ensure his legacy always lives on according to organizers. Harty was from the Ponoka area and competed in the Professional Bull Riding association and Canadian Professional Rodeo events, the Calgary Stampede, the Ponoka Stampede and events all over North America.
Aaron Roy was the short go winner with a score of 79 on Tumblin’ Dice’s Inferno for a total of 164 on two bulls. He was the only cowboy in the short go to stay on his bull for a full eight seconds. Also making it to the short go was Zane Lamert with a score of 85, Scott Schiffner with a score of 83, Max Fortmuller with a score of 82.5, Tyler Thompson with a score of 81.5 and Dusty Ephrom with a score of 78.
The junior bull riding champion was Ponoka’s Wacey Finkbeiner with his best ever score of 80.5.
“I’m pretty happy with it being my hometown and it means a lot to me because I knew Jace,” said Finkbeiner.
He said that Harty was a really good guy and was a lot of fun to be around.
“I really like coming here because it’s a fun event for all ages and anyone can have fun here,” he said.
Finkbeiner was really pleased with his ride because that same bull had bucked him off twice before and was happy to ride him.
The crowd also enjoyed watching the cowboys holding on and getting bucked off. Some of the bulls even stayed in the arena a little longer, which gave the crowd a little more time to enjoy the great weather and the friends around.
For Rieley Kay it was his first time out at the Jace Harty event and thought it was a good kick off to the Ponoka Stampede.
“It’s a great event and it’s for a good cause,” said Kay. “It’s pretty friendly, inviting and relaxing.”
Ron Anderchuck, who used to raise bucking bulls, has been coming to the event started.
“I like to see the young up and coming bull riders,” said Anderchuck. “It’s really nice too that all of the kids who put it on knew Harty.”
The intermission featured Mexican bull soccer with Sunny 94 and Toyota City Wetaskiwin competing in a friendly game of soccer. The two teams of four played soccer as two bulls (with protection over their horns) were released into the arena. The Sunny 94 won 2-0 but the real accomplishment was the fact that everyone came out with no serious injuries.
The event raised money for various local charities including $500 to the Ponoka Victim Services Unit, $1,000 to NABIS, $1,500 to Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine, $300 to the Ronald McDonald House from the monster truck rides from Western RV and $2,590 to Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital.
After the bull riding was over there was a cabaret with music from the Allen Christie Band. Lentz said that he knew that Harty was looking down on the event with the sunshine and as the letter on the program to Jace says ‘We have you Jace, to thank because you have been our sunray as you sit on the gate and watch from above…Keep all our cowboys safe as the ride, when the last chute has cracked and they can stand with pride, tip their hats off to you and give you a nod, we rode Jace’s way and we gave it our all.”