By Adam Eisenbarth
It was a week of focused competition from cowboys and cowgirls, but July 4 was the biggest of them all.
The Showdown was an intense wrap on a week of big money at the Ponoka Stampede. With $10,000 in each rodeo event on the line, it was all business on Sunday evening as the top four in each event battled it out for the money.
But before the rodeo got underway, it was an even bigger jackpot on the line in the Tommy Dorchester $50,000 Dash for Cash.
Defending champion Obrey Motowylo, of Bluffton, drew the three barrel, and looked to strike again.
It wasn’t to be however, as veteran Kelly Sutherland took the top prize, something he’s quite familiar with. This was his seventh Ponoka Stampede win, tying a record set by Ralph Vigen.
Off the one barrel, Sutherland stopped the clock at a day best 1:16.20. He was followed by Grant Profit, Motowylo and Jerry Bremner, all who finished in accordance to their barrel positions. Next up on the chuckwagon schedule is the Calgary Stampede, which starts July 9.
After the tense race, it was on to the rodeo events.
In bareback riding, Dusty Lavalley of Bezanson posted an 87.5 to take the win over three American cowboys.
Tuf Cooper’s time of 8.4 seconds in tie down roping landed him a big win. He was competing against three other Americans on Independence Day.
In steer wrestling, Curtis Cassidy of Donalda came up clutch with a sparkling 4.3 seconds, beating Scott Wyzykoski’s 6.6 seconds.
Klay Whyte of Bashaw and Levi Simpson of Claresholm teamed up and squeaked out a victory with their 5.9 seconds in team roping.
All Issac Diaz had to do was ride in the saddle bronc competition as the other three riders were bucked off. The Texas cowboy scored a 79.25.
While Lindsay Sears of Nanton turned in an impressive 17.34 in the barrel racing, it was Lisa Lockhart who stole the show with an outstanding 17.19 time. It was the fastest time of the week.
Ty Elliott was the only bull rider to hang on for eight seconds. The Turner Valley cowboy scored an 89.25 to wrap up the 74th Ponoka Stampede.
Ponoka’s own Luke Butterfield was named all around champion and Curtis Cassidy was named high point champion.
As spectators and competitors drained out of town Sunday evening, the final attendance was marked at 63,040, a jump of about 5,000 from last year.