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2024 Ponoka Stampede prize money close to $1M

The Ponoka Stampede Association is raising the stakes this year, increasing the total prize money to almost $920,000
2023 Ponoka Stampede Aggregate Winner, $75,000 Tommy Dorchester Dash For Cash Winner and Record Book Breaker.

Already known as the largest seven-day professional rodeo in Canada with some of the best prize draws in professional rodeo, the Ponoka Stampede Association (PSA) is raising the stakes this year, increasing the total prize money to almost $920,000. 

For the rodeo purse, that means $60,000 in prize money for each of the seven major professional rodeo events (team roping includes $60,000 or the header and $60,000 for the heeler).

The purse for the WPCA chuckwagon racers is at $425,000, plus another $20,250 for the All Pro Pony Chuckwagons. Then there’s $25,000 for the PBR event, and $4,500 for novice rodeo riders.

READ MORE: Rodeo events at the heart of Ponoka Stampede

 "Directors strive to navigate that delicate dance between investing in their facilities to accommodate future growth, keeping the rodeo affordable for fans, and making sure the sport’s very best competitors are circling the Canada Day long weekend as ‘Ponoka time’ on their calendars," stated a press release.

“We’ve been at $55,000 for a while,” said PSA president Rick Wierzba about the rodeo purse. “With inflation and everything, we just want to help the cowboys out as much as we can. They’re the foundation of our sport. We always just feel if we can give back, we should. That’s a big thing for us.”

The increase comes on the heels of back-to-back record years for the Ponoka Stampede, with attendance over 100,000 the last two years, according to the Stampede.

Weirzba credits a combination of factors for growth, including the addition of the Wild West suites building, which has boosted corporate sponsorship and involvement.

Last year the Showdown Dance Hall debuted to become a hot spot for fans at the grounds.

“We want to make the Stampede as successful as we can. That’s why we do it, and to keep the sport alive. It’s a big community effort, for sure. We have the cooperation of the town, and county (of Ponoka), and the support of Central Alberta to make it happen. Lots of groups come in from surrounding communities to help out, as their fundraisers. Bigger cities don’t have summer events that come anywhere close to size of Ponoka Stampede,” Wierzba adds.

The bump in prize money leaves Ponoka in front as the richest individual event on the season’s CPRA calendar and in the top 20 richest rodeos for the PRCA as well. Competitors know if they can score big at Ponoka, that takes them a long way towards their dreams of qualifying for the CFR in Edmonton, or the NFR in Las Vegas.

Four-time world and Canadian champion saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston was helped along the way to both championships last year by his third Ponoka title, and it’s accompanying $18,000 boost in the standings.

“(Ponoka) is one of the best rodeos you’ll ever go to," said Thurston, who is from Big Valley. "It’s a cowboy’s rodeo. It’s western, and great bucking horses. It’s darn sure my favourite rodeo.”

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.



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