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39th annual Stompede kicks off in Grande Prairie

The Grande Prairie Stompede is officially underway. The 39th annual event kicked off with a Bust Out barbecue Tuesday, and rodeo and chuckwagon events got started Wednesday.

Putting on the event is no small feat, and requires the hard work of many organizers. Each year a committee member is recognized as Stomper of the Year for going above and beyond, and this year that volunteer was Jason Skene. He says this was his first year on the board, but he’s spent many in the background.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with the chuckwagons and chuckwagon racing and being involved there. I got into rodeo and I’ve just always been in the back scenes and this year they asked me to come forward. It’s been a huge enjoyment; lots of fun learning lots.”

At the same time, a well-known member of the chuckwagon community has been named this year’s Stompede Wagon Master. Ron Kimble was born and raised in Grande Prairie and has had horses all his life.

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“I’m quite honoured to be asked to do that. I guess someone has to do it so… it’s our turn, I guess.”

When giving Kimble the recognition at Tuesday’s Bust Out Barbecue, Jim Watson said he couldn’t think of anyone locally who has done more to benefit the Stompede. Kimble will be introduced before all of the chuckwagon events this week and took part in the Stompede parade. He says he’s most looking forward to helping out his son, 2010 and 2011 GMC Pro Tour Champion Lane Kimble.

Meanwhile, Maranda Erickson has been crowned the 2016 Stompede Queen. She says the title was three years in the making and the result of hard work and determination.

“I want to help out the community as the best I can and show the younger generation how great the sport of rodeo is just to promote it even more, because a lot of kids don’t understand where do the animals come from, what is rodeo, what’s so great about it.”

While she says her focus now is on representing Grande Prairie, she’s not ruling out running for another crown in the future.

The Stompede runs through Sunday at Evergreen Park, with special guest Amber Marshall from the CBC show Heartland making an appearance over the weekend. She’s part of a new event called “From the Heart” and will be making appearances both Saturday and Sunday.

Photos of the Stompede parade are below:

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