Rodeo Hall of Fame opens June 30

Homeless for more years than they would like to acknowledge, the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame (CPRHF) has found

Homeless for more years than they would like to acknowledge, the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame (CPRHF) has found new accommodations at the Ponoka Ag Event Centre.

Grand opening is June 30 at 4 p.m. during the Ponoka Stampede.

“In the rodeo world it’s probably the biggest deal ever. It’s something that’s been needed for some time,” said Judi Wilson, CPRHF secretary and treasurer.

There has been a large amount of excitement from young and old rodeo fans alike, said Wilson. She looks forward to being able to display rodeo artifacts, which have until recently been stored in a sea-can for several years.

Originally the hall of fame was located in Cochrane, but it closed in January 2005 because of the expense.

Two things were against the CPRHF; maintenance was costly for the size of building it was housed in, and they relied heavily on grants, donations and volunteers, which Wilson said was unsustainable. Some memorabilia was given back to inductees and the rest have been without a home. “We’ve had nowhere to showcase them until now.”

Wilson had seen the blueprints for the Ponoka Ag Event Centre while attending a Ponoka Stampede and the beginnings of an idea formed. She saw the potential of having the hall of fame being a part of the centre. Shortly after plans for a different location fell through in March 2011, the CPRHF signed a lease agreement on April 15.

The hall of fame assisted with the construction of the second floor, which Wilson said was not planned for completion until later.

Rodeo competitors have anxiously anticipated the grand opening of the CPRHF, which has given today’s cowboys extra incentive to excel at their sport, explained Wilson. “The rodeo hall of fame has taken on a new life.”

Over the years rodeo legends have been inducted, but there was nowhere to showcase their accomplishments. The hall of fame has gathered enough artifacts to have items shown on a revolving exhibit to give fans a reason to return.

She feels Canadian cowboys deserve to be recognized.

“Canadian cowboys are among the best in the world,” she stated.

Signs on Highway 2 north and south, Highway 2A north and south, and Highway 53 east and west will give tourists another reason to visit Ponoka.

Wilson has received calls from a tourist company in Europe and in California enquiring about the hall.

“The one question we’ve had from all of them is, ‘Is there a Tim Hortons in Ponoka?’” Wilson exclaimed.

The hall will be open to the public after the grand opening in the summer hours every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no entry fee, “strictly on donations,” from entrants.

The grand opening is planned to be in front of the Ponoka Ag Event Centre with Rona Ambrose, minister of public works and government services and minister for status of women, MP Blaine Calkins, Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Rod Fox and three cowboys who have yet to be announced to cut the ribbon.