Organizers postpone Ponoka Stampede over 'uncertainty' around COVID-19 restrictions

(Source: Facebook / Ponoka Stampede)

The Ponoka Stampede is postponing this year's event – temporarily, for now – citing uncertainty navigating provincial COVID-19 restrictions. 

"With the uncertainty surrounding the current pandemic related restrictions the Ponoka Stampede has made the difficult decision to postpone the 2021 Ponoka Stampede," the organization announced Wednesday evening.

"The Ponoka Stampede Board of Directors will be working with our key Stakeholders to establish possible later 2021 dates. Ticket holders will be contacted by mid June."

The 84th event was scheduled to run June 28-July 4 with a kick-off barbecue on June 22. It was postponed in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Although the Alberta government projects the province fully reopening by July, in time for big summer events, Ponoka Stampede organizers are not alone in their uncertainty.

Northlands officials in Edmonton announced on June 1 there would not be a K-Days 2021 event, a decision they said came from a "hard look" at whether they "could deliver a high-quality event given limited timelines and resources." 

The province only entered the first of three stages of reopening on Tuesday by expanding outdoor gathering limits, retail capacity, and allowing outdoor patio dining and personal service appointments.

If Alberta can keep hospitalizations below 500 – according to the latest data Wednesday, there were 435 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19 including 122 in ICUs – and hits a vaccination target of 60 per cent of those eligible, it will move to Stage 2 as soon as June 10. Under Stage 2, outdoor gatherings – including events like concerts and festivals – will be capped at 150 people, except grandstands will be limited to one third of seating capacity.

All restrictions – except isolation requirements for positive cases and some protections in continuing care and hospital settings – will be lifted in Stage 3, when 70 per cent of the eligible province has received at least one dose.

The government expects to reach Stage 3 by July, in time for Calgary Stampede July 9-18.