Ponoka Stampede Association (PSA) is growing, and so is the purse for its entire week of rodeo action.

The association has always prided itself on being a leader in professional rodeo when it comes to paying the cowboys, this year at almost $920,000.

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.

For 2024 the commitment to contestants reached new heights as Ponoka Stampede announced the rodeo purse would be moved up yet again, to the phenomenal amount of $60,000 for each of the seven major professional rodeo events, team roping includes $60,000 or the header and $60,000 for the heeler.

 “We’ve been at $55,000 for a while,” explains PSA President, Rick Wierzba about the rodeo purse increase to a new high. “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. “It’s been quite amazing, honestly,” marvels Weirzba.

He credits a combination of factors for the success and 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 far out in front as the richest individual event on the season’s CPRA calendar. And it puts Ponoka in the top 20 richest rodeos for the PRCA as well. 

**With information provided by The Ponoka Stampede Assocation