BONNYVILLE – Last minute preparations are under way as the Bonnyville Agricultural Society prepares the rodeo grounds to host the World Professional Chuckwagon races and Pro Rodeo from June 8-11.
The Bonnyville rodeo will be hosting the second event for the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) as drivers lean into a new season of races.
The WPCA will be kicking off its first event at the Grande Prairie Stompede over the May 31 to June 4 weekend.
Following the wagon races on Saturday and Sunday, the Pro Rodeo events are sure to keep audiences engaged with saddle bronc, bull riding, barrel racing and steer wrestling. Wild pony races and trick riding also promise to captivate the crowd.
“We’ve got good rodeo stock coming from southern Alberta this year,” said Richard Procinski, the president of the Bonnyville Agriculture Society.
Every year, the Bonnyville area rallies together to make the rodeo and chuckwagon races an ongoing success. Procinski says it doesn’t take much persuading - if any at all - to get local businesses and community members to get involved through sponsorships, attendance and volunteering.
“And in turn, we try to put on the best show that we can,” added Corey Dows, the Bonnyville Ag Society treasurer.
“There is a need for the community to come together to have an event like this. It takes a lot of people and a lot of money to make it happen,” Dows said.
When it comes to the Bonnyville rodeo grounds, every penny earned through events and functions gets put straight back into the grounds.
When rodeo-goers return for this year's events and dances they will notice facility upgrades ranging from more lighting on the grounds and upgrades to LED lights in the arena to a professionally refinished infield and the addition of sound baffles in the hall.
Based on last year’s turnout, organizers expect to draw in between 1,000 to 2,000 visitors per day, made up of locals and out of town rodeo enthusiasts.
“The WPCA is a big draw for this town,” noted Dows.
Last year, the rodeo saw a record number of participants signed up and larger crowds in the stands. “When there is good weather, the whole town goes,” he added.
Event organizers also expect the 18-plus evening dances to bring in a late-night crowd. Last year, the hall was full by 11 p.m. with a lineup of people hoping to get in before last call.
This year, live music will take place on both evenings. The Mainstreet Band will be playing on Friday and the Dirt Road Maniacs and Calvin Vollrath will be taking the stage on Saturday.
Cowboys and chili
The Chamber Chili Cook-off is also expected to draw out some cowboys, says Procinski.
The Friday afternoon event run by the Bonnyville and District Chamber of Commerce will have some wagon drivers from the WPCA on hand to take pictures and sign autographs.
Event organizers are still seeking user groups who want to volunteer to raise money for their organizations or charities.
Last year, roughly 100 volunteers a day helped to keep the entire event running smoothly.
Anyone interested in purchasing tickets, volunteering or sponsoring the event or a wagon, can email [email protected].