Skip to content

Ponoka Stampede: Rodeo is the ‘greatest fraternity on earth’

Local athletes gear up for Ponoka Stampede

Since the very beginning, the Ponoka area has been well represented by local athletes at the annual Ponoka Stampede. Dynasty names like “Butterfield” and “Vold” are just a couple examples of those that have done well over the years at home and abroad. 

Vice President Bruce Harbin says that the Ponoka Stampede has been referred to as the ‘cowboy’s rodeo’ and the Ponoka district has a good nucleus of rodeo talent. 

This large and dedicated population of riders is one of the reasons Ponoka has the Calnash Ag Event Centre. The modern facility, which is home to the Canadian Rodeo Hall of Fame, gives locals a chance to compete and practice rodeo events during the winter. This opportunity to ride year-round just improves the quality of athletes from the Ponoka district. 

Harbin points out that not only is Ponoka well represented at their own Stampede, but at events like the Canadian Finals Rodeo and other top rodeo events all over. 

READ MORE: Ponoka Stampede: A world-class rodeo for world-class cowboys

He says one of the great things about locals involved in rodeo is there is a deep pool of talent, and nobody is afraid to share that talent with those around them. 

The community’s willingness to help out and teach is something he enjoys immensely and says that Ponoka athletes are perfect examples of it. 

The older generation is constantly giving back to younger generations, and it keeps the skills thriving in the sport. 

“Rodeo people have the greatest fraternity on earth,” said Harbin. 

Harbin himself started at Bobtail Rodeo in calf roping. Over the years he moved up through the youth rodeo programs and eventually competed in professional steer wrestling during the 90s. He happily commented that he had come up under the tutelage of Craig Butterfield and Wally Pugh. 

Harbin’s family is active in the Stampede in various positions. He noted his youngest seems interested in breakaway roping so he may find himself involved in the youth rodeo circuit again. 

Harbin says those who grow up in rodeo spend years travelling from place to place for competitions and get to meet a variety of people. Years later they often meet those people again and find them involved with their families in the rodeo like everyone else. 

He is reminded of a poem over the desk of Tom Butterfield that says ‘The world would be a much brighter star if more folks were as cowboys are.” 

READ MORE: Rodeo events at the heart of Ponoka Stampede

Local athletes to watch for

Jake Vold, a well-known name around town, and Jacob Stemo, with ties to Ponoka and Bashaw, compete in bareback while Jordan Hansen and Zane Lambert, also from Ponoka, compete in the eight-second exhilarating event of bull riding.
A couple hometown Ponoka cowboys likely to compete in team roping are Keely and Logan Bonnett in team roping. 

In the steer wrestling there’s Ponoka bulldoggers Chance and Brock Butterfield, Ben Ramey and Craig Weisberger. 

In the ladies barrel racing, some local names to look for include Justine Elliott and Stacey Ruzicka. 

Many other local names can be heard on the loudspeaker, competing in the various events throughout the week. 

Ponoka News is your source for all things Ponoka Stampede leading up to and during Stampede Week June 25 to July 1. Find more Ponoka Stampede stories here.