By Tiffany Williams
The Ponoka Stampede Showdown finals were held on July 1 in front of a packed crowd during the 72nd annual Ponoka Stampede.
The stampede drew 66,465 people to watch the many great events going on during the largest professional rodeo in all of Canada. PSA president Blake Butterfield was very pleased with the rodeo.
“I think it went well,” said Butterfield. “The rodeo was outstanding everyday; we had good stock, top cowboys and great weather. The first thing you need is nice weather, which we had, the cowboys and fans like that. It just seems like everything fell into place.”
Ponoka cowboy Trygve Pugh made it to the top 12 in steer wrestling. In his first go he had a time of 5.4 seconds earning him $1,506 and in the average he had a time of 23.9 seconds earning $521. He thought that it was a great rodeo with lots of money and good fans and that it was nice to be close to home. His first steer he had trouble with it but he was still pleased with it.
“I didn’t have a very good steer. The guy before me had that steer at a time of 20 seconds on his go. He was a bigger steer and he wasn’t the pick of the pen,” said Pugh. “It wasn’t a good run but it was a good time. They don’t send you a picture of it in the mail.”
In the finals he ended up doing a dance with his steer and wrestled him down with a time of 11.5 seconds.
“It’s the luck of the draw. Whatever you get you have to compensate on. I just tried to get him down as fast as I could,” said Pugh.
Pugh won a total of $2,027 at the Ponoka Stampede and also split 3/4 at Williams Lake earning him $2,563 for a weekend total of $4,590.
“It was a good weekend. There are lots of guys who didn’t win anything. I won almost $5,000. I’m getting closer to the finals at the end of the year.”
So far this season Pugh has earned $8,252 on the circuit.
The Ponoka Stampede steer wrestling showdown champion Cody Cassidy also has a Ponoka connection. He is the nephew to Blake and Rose Butterfield who were beaming with excitement and pride after his win. Cassidy would often go and practice with the Butterfields when he was younger, dreaming of competing at the Ponoka Stampede. Cassidy won the showdown with a time of 5.2 seconds on a sprained ankle. On June 30 he was practicing at the Butterfields and sprained his left ankle. Through the pain Cassidy was smiling ear to ear with the win.
“It’s the best, I can’t complain it was awesome,” said Cassidy. Curtis and Dad both have their names in the Longscore Saloon and now mine will be up there. It is a real sense of accomplishment and it feels good.”
Before the go he was thinking of the 2004 Calgary Stampede. Where he was in a run off for the $50,000 championship because he was tied. All he needed to win was a 14.0 run and he missed his steer.
“I felt so bad for the crowd they just had this huge sigh and I wanted to redeem myself,” said Cassidy. “I didn’t want to break the barrier. The horse and Dad (hazer Greg Cassidy) both did great. I didn’t do nothing spectacular I just did my job.”
Cassidy earned $12,350 at the Ponoka Stampede and also split 6/7 at Williams Lake. He thought that this was the best weekend because he usually doesn’t place at two rodeos in one weekend.
As he admired his championship buckle he said that it means a lot to him.
“This is the best rodeo, look at the crowd. It’s second to none here and everyone knows about the Ponoka Stampede,” said Cassidy. “It is run by cowboys and they try to make it better every year. Some rodeos don’t add any more money and the PSA has really stepped it up with the addition of the Showdown.”
As the rodeo comes to an end this year’s plans are already in the works for the 2009 edition of the Ponoka Stampede, which promises to continue to be the best in Canada.