For the first time in history, Ponoka is sending a competitor for every event of the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR), including bull fighting and the Miss Rodeo Canada queen competition.
Wednesday, Oct. 29 was a night to rejoice as the community celebrated 11 of the toughest and most talented rodeo world competitors as they qualified to attend the CFR.
Held annually at the Rexall Place in Edmonton, the CFR takes the world’s top cowboys and girls, offers up top prize money and pushes to see who can run the fastest, spur the hardest and hold on the longest.
This year’s attendees are: Luke Butterfield, saddle bronc; Brett Monea, bullfighting; Tyler Pankowitz, bull riding; Dean Edge, tie down roping; Levi Simpson, team roping; Tyrel Flewelling, team roping; Logan Bonnett, team roping; Brook Robertson, barrel racing; Trygve Pugh, steer wrestling; Jake Vold, bareback and Katy Lucas for the Miss Rodeo Canada competition.
“I’d just like to say it’s always a pleasure to come and now that we’ve got the best facilities, the best cowboys . . . everything that makes us proud,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett.
“My hat goes off to you making the CFR. We know you’ll make us proud,” he added.
This year will be Butterfield’s seventh time qualifying for the CFR and after his rough performance last year, he is coming back with the Canadian championship title in his sights.
“It just didn’t work out,” said Butterfield referring to his penniless 2013 CFR experience.
“You always want do to good, that’s where you make your money,” he added.
Despite Butterfield missing a month of rodeoing over the summer due to a knee injury, he placed ninth in the CFR saddle bronc riding qualifiers.
Now he is resting, hitting the gym and staying healthy in preparation for the indoor rodeo.
Despite competing at the CFR for six years already, Butterfield says the excitement never fades. “No matter what, every year this is what I try to take care of.”
Team roper Logan Bonnett will be experiencing the CFR for the first time and has earned his pro card to bring along. “I’m excited, that’s for sure.”
“This is what I’ve worked up to, it’s one of my dreams,” he added.
There’s a few nerves leading up to his first time but Bonnett has been competing against the other qualifiers all season and rodeoed right up until the CFR to keep his edge.
During his season, Bonnett won at Brooks, Okotoks and Pincher Creek events. His third place finish at the Grassroots Finals Rodeo pushed him into 12th place in the standings.
“It’s a dream come true, I’ve worked to be here since I was a little kid,” said Bonnett.
Bareback rider Jake Vold has qualified for his sixth CFR run and after a winning season, he is looking forward to the competition. “This has been the best season I’ve had yet so far.”
“I’ve accomplished my dream of being season leader,” he added, a title he narrowly missed last year.
Vold says he expects smooth sailing during the CFR despite the unpredictability of rodeo and his nerves are calm, as he had learned to “do his job.”
“It’ll be a little tougher this year, there’s a couple of tougher pens,” said Vold.
“I look forward to it every year,” he added.
This is tie-down roper Dean Edge’s eighth appearance at the CFR and while he has never won the coveted championship title, he is hoping this is the year. “It’s what I’ve been trying to do, trying to win, most of my life.”
In preparation to win what he is calling his life’s greatest accomplishment, Edge is bumping up his workout routine to even out with his roping practice.
Rodeoing until the end of September followed by a series of jackpots also helps him stay competitive.
“It’s been a nice, consistent season,” he explained.
Having competed at the CFR so many times Edge says, over time, qualifying becomes easier to accept. “The further along you go you realize you’re in a league you belong in.”