WPCA Awards Gala Honors Those Who Achieved Greatness In 2017

2017 World Champion Chuckwagon Driver Kurt Bensmiller proudly accepts the keys to a GMC Truck, a gold and silver trophy buckle and a beautiful bronze trophy from (L-R): Greg Vogel from Summit Fleet, Myrnie Sands-Malvin from KMC Sales, Kurt Bensmiller, Corey O'Shea from GMC.
Photo By Paul & Carol Easton Wagon Photography

A night of celebration took take place at the Grey Eagle Casino in Calgary with the 37th annual World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) Awards Gala that honored those who achieved greatness this past season, as well as those who have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the most exciting professional sport in the world today. The evening was a tremendous success, with one of the highlights being the video presentations highlighting the 2017 season and all the champions were well received by a near capacity crowd.

As well, the WPCA remembered those who "went west" over the past year which included WPCA Founder Jim Bottomley, active supporters Harry Vold, Harris Dvorkin, and Duke Russell, former chuckwagon driver Ralph Johnson, champion chuckwagon horses Chief's Encounter and Wild Caribe, and former Calgary Stampede Arena Director Winston Bruce.

2017 World Champion Outrider Casey Knight (L) receives a trophy buckle from Randy Cripps (R) of Bush Ape Supervision.
Photo By Paul & Carol Easton Wagon Photography

Kurt Bensmiller was the top honoree this year as he captured the 2017 World Chuckwagon Championship for the 2nd time in his illustrious career, and Casey Knight was the 2017 World Champion Outrider for the for the first time in his career. 

The 2017 "Jim Bottomley Trophy" for WPCA Chuckwagon Person of the Year
(L-R): to Denise Bottomley presenting, Tammy Kristiansen,
Neil Bottomley presenting, WPCA Vice President John Lee.

Photo By Paul & Carol Easton Wagon Photography

The Jim Bottomley Trophy given to the WPCA Chuckwagon Person of the Year is the WPCA’s highest annual honor. This year’s recipient being WPCA Director of Partnerships Tammy Kristiansen receiving the prestigious award. The George Normand Lifetime Builders Award is a very special award in the fact that it is not always presented annually, and the recipients become part of a very special and exclusive group.This year's recipient was retiring driver Kelly Sutherland.

Wendy Daniel (R) of the Ranchmans Cookhouse and Dance Hall presents a western sculpture to former Outrider JIm Shield (L) for being recognized with the 2017 WPCA Special Tribute Award.
Photo By Paul & Carol Easton Wagon Photography

The WPCA Special Tribute was given to 5-time World Champion Outrider Jim Shield. Layne MacGillivray received the Herman Flad Memorial Award for Most Improved Driver Award, while Ethan Motowylo received the Rod Glass Memorial Award for Most Improved Outrider.  Dayton Sutherland was named the WPCA's Top Rookie Driver, and Dean Arcand was named the WPCA Top Rookie Outrider. John Walters was the winner of the WPCA Clean Drive Award for running the entire 2017 WPCA race season penalty free..

Outrider Eddie Melville from Import Tool Corp. Ltd., presents the
2017 Equine Outfit of Excellence Awards to:
Back Row (L-R): Evan Salmond on behalf of his horse "ZIP," Kurt Bensmiller on behalf of his horse “TENTH POWER,” Eddie Melville presenting, Jason Glass on behalf of his horse "CALM," Gary Gorst on behalf of his horse "GT."
Front Row (L-R): Chanse Vigen on behalf of his horse "SLICK," and John Walters on behalf of his horse “DANCER.”

Photo By Paul & Carol Easton Wagon Photography

The horses also shared in the awards through the WPCA Equine Outfit of Excellence. Equine outfit of Excellence winners included “DANCER” of John Walter’s outfit on Right Lead, “GT” of Gary Gorst’s outfit on Left Lead, “TENTH POWER” of Kurt Bensmiller’s outfit on Right Wheel, “SLICK” of Chanse Vigen’s outfit on Left Wheel, and “CALM” of Jason Glass’ outfit and “ZIP” of Evan Salmond’s outfit were the champion Outriding Horses.

Jeff DeSutter (L) of Midwest Pipelines Inc. Reveives a 2017 WPCA Active Supporter Award from radio and television color commentator Billy Melville (R).
Photo By Paul & Carol Easton Wagon Photography

Other award winners included the Grande Prairie Chuck Wagon Heritage Foundation and Midwest Pipelines Inc. who each received a WPCA Active Supporter Award, the Strathmore Stampede received the WPCA Top Race Committee Award, Rob Kerr of the Fan 960 Radio  received the WPCA Media Award, Angie Motowylo received the Ty Tournier Memorial Award, and Cruse Bensmiller received the WPCA Judging Award. Darlene Bensmiller also received Special Recognition from the WPCA.

The event, hosted by track announcer Les McIntyre was a tremendous success, and congratulations to all the 2017 champions and award winners.

Billy Melville

GMC 2017