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Traditional powwow aligning with Western Chucks

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Rodeo and Indigenous culture are coming together this summer. The 2nd annual Grande Prairie Traditional Powwow will be held on the same weekend as the Western Chuckwagon Association races out at Evergreen Park for a dual event dubbed Boots & Moccasins.

While fans fill the Gordon Badger Stadium to see the return of Grande Prairie’s own Dean Dreger, powwow drumming and dancing will fill the Entrec Centre nearby. Powwow committee chairperson Walter White says the events complement each other.

“As a child, I remember powwows used to be on the same weekend as rodeos, so it used to be a destination weekend. We used to travel to different communities and go to the powwow and rodeo at the same time, so it’s kind of like a throwback to the old days.”

The inaugural powwow was held over one day last June in the field west of the Composite High School parking lot. While it came together in just a matter of weeks, it’s estimated 4,000 people attended. White hopes to see similar numbers in the new location.

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“We had such a huge response and huge reaction and turnout to support the event that this year it’s impossible not to grow on that. We’ve expanded to two days.”

White also hopes that being held at the Entrec Centre will encourage more non-Indigenous people to see what a traditional powwow is like. It differs from a competition powwow in that while there is singing and dancing, it isn’t a contest. Some ceremonies are also allowed to be included.

“That heartbeat of that drum, that resonates right down in your soul and is something you’ll never forget,” White says. “They get to feel pride in the homeland where they live and we all live and coexist together.”

The event will run June 16th and 17th with grand entries at 1 and 6 p.m.

The regular Guitars & Wagons event for this year has been cancelled, but the WCA will still hold a three day vent in its place. Friday’s chuckwagon racing will start at 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m.

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