International

Getting to the Ponoka Stampede

After a day during Edmonton it was time to get into rural Alberta. If anything became clear over the next couple of days Alberta is more Texas than Texas. I was really surprised how far into the valley Edmonton really was. It definitely sits out on the wide-open plain. Ponoka is about 75 minutes south of Edmonton down highway 2. The drive was easy as highway 2 is super slab between Calgary and Edmonton. I was listening to quite a bit of local radio and came across the song “Canadian Girls.” Dean Brody is a Canadian country artist whom they don’t seem to export back to the United States. The song really caught my attention for it’s quick wit and references back to The Beach Boys “California Girls.” Yes, I know I’m not the target demographic for the song but it was still fun! I’m definitely American as I had to look up a number of the references.  🙂

Just about all of the rodeos I’ve been to have been fairly small town. Either Jeremy nor I had no idea how structured the rodeo would be as the small ones are completely open seating, do what you want events. When we rolled into Ponoka we saw the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. It was a fun surprise and I was curious to see what was inside having been to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Panoka Rodeo 1001

The Canadians are into rodeo just as much as we are. There are parts of “American culture” like country music, rodeo, and baseball they just feel uniquely American but actually aren’t. Canadians share many of our same traditions yet uniquely have their own take on them. It’s fun to see those differences. While the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas is the big event here, the Canadian Finals Rodeo takes place in Edmonton.

Panoka Rodeo 318

It’s interesting seeing the rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton. Even in the midst of all of the flooding the Calgarians would never have entertained having the rodeo in Edmonton given that the venue was under several feet of water. Leaving the Hall of Fame, Jeremy wanted to get a photo with the big bull.

Panoka Rodeo 330

Once we got to the actual rodeo grounds we found that the Ponoka Stampede was a very structured event. The bleachers were shaded but the best spot for photos were out in the open sun.

Panoka Rodeo 301

We took the area out in the open sun. 🙂
It was fun to walk around the rodeo grounds and see some of the horses. I’m continually surprised how friendly and social horses actually are. Seeing these two together you would almost think they were trading secrets about all the cowboys in the arena.

Panoka Rodeo 667   Panoka Rodeo 651   Panoka Rodeo 663

The rodeo clowns have the distinct jobs of distracting an angry animal so that the cowboy has a chance to get away after he dismounts. Aside from bull riding, I think it’s one of the most challenging and dangerous events in rodeo. That being said, every clown I’ve seen takes his role with such confidence and grace.

Panoka Rodeo 763

I was able to rent a 70 – 200 lens in Edmonton for the event. I had such fun for 5 whole minutes in Sacramento when I was able to put that lens on my camera. The extra 95 mm of reach really do make an outstanding difference. There’s honestly too much photography for one post so I’m splitting the Ponoka Stampede across several posts.

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