Athletic skills essential to Ponoka Stampede success

It’s very appropriate that the Ponoka Stampede happens during the celebration of our country’s birthday because the cowboy way of life played a huge role in how western Canada was developed, most old timers will tell you.

Blair Vold and his family have been involved with this show for dozens of years and they are very proud to have seen the stampede roll on for 75 years in the community.

“It’s just a great traditional rodeo to celebrate Alberta’s history I think,” said Vold on the launch of year 76. “It shows us where we come from in our farming community when we first started and how it evolved into such a tradition of our great province.”

Thousands of people cram themselves into the stands each year to watch saddle bronc riders, barrel races, calf ropers, steer wrestlers and the rock stars of the rodeo world, the bull riders. On top of that you can end the night taking in the heart-pounding chuckwagon racing affectionately called the ‘half mile of hell.’

People have their own favourites at each rodeo but one thing is a constant at the Ponoka Stampede – people from all over the region and further away make their way to the Central Alberta town to take in the show.

“We draw a lot of fans from overseas, Europe, they come here from the states and they get treated to something they’ve never seen before.”

Vold said there are close to 1,000 people entered into the stampede through the rodeo events and the chuckwagon races making it one of the largest rodeos in the country.

“Well in Canada I call ourselves the largest seven-day rodeo,” said Vold , adding that in North America the Ponoka Stampede ranks number five overall.

An army of volunteers and stampede board directors get involved and Vold says that is the key to pulling off a smooth show each year which the participants and fans alike appreciate. It also helps to attract the money through sponsorship needed to attract the big name cowboys and cowgirls who compete for a paycheque.

The community and the support they give along with the volunteers and the directors who give of their time in order to put this show on are the strength of the stampede,” he said.

“The sponsors we do get want to be behind it, we don’t have to chase a lot of them,” Vold explained, adding how much the community support of the stampede also has a positive impact on sponsors getting onboard.

Another component to making this stampede such a success are the animals which the cowboys ride and Vold said each year the stock gets better and better which makes for great matchups with the professional cowboys.

Vold said over the years the cowboys and cowgirls have evolved along with the rodeo itself, pointing to the fact many show up in trailers which are light years ahead of how the cowpokes of the past made their way to Ponoka.

In the old days they just rode in the back of pickups with stock racks and they slept underneath the trucks or in tents.

“These guys are high-tech now, you see the stock trailers, the push outs, the horses, the training. Barrel racers with their trainers are here.”

There is also a very up-to-date medical treatment centre for the athletes to work out the kinks and treat the minor injuries which can occur when sitting on top of two tons of angry bull for example.

And make no mistake about it, these men and women are athletes and with so much cash on the line they go to all lengths to make sure they are as fit as possible to compete against the rest of the field.

“It’s gone to another level and you’ve got to be on top of your game, you’ve got to have the best horses, the best equipment just to compete and you’ve got to be in shape.”

Just Posted

Rebels lose 13th straight against Kamloops

Red Deer hasn’t won on home ice since Oct. 28th, 2017

Kings and Queens sweep Briercrest

RDC basketball is begining to gear up for the ACAC playoffs

WATCH: Setters Place officially opens in advance of the 2019 Canada Games

Red Deer is one step closer to the 2019 Canada Winter Games the opening of Setters Place

City council approves operating budget to a tune of $364 million

The 2.02% hike includes 1% for capital investment and 0.11% for the carbon tax

Province not providing aid to Red Deer for its June storm

Cause of storm wasn’t ‘extraordinary’ according to province

WATCH: Alberta Party leadership candidates present visions to Red Deerians

Party members will vote for their new leader on Feb. 7th

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Las Vegas shooter acted alone, exact motive still undetermined: Sheriff

Stephen Paddock was behind the gunfire that killed 58 people including two Canadians

Botox, bomb shelters, and the blues: one year into Trump presidency

A look into life in Washington since Trump’s inauguration

Most Read