WPCA Honors Those Who Achieved Greatness In 2018

2018 World Champion Chuckwagon Driver Kurt Bensmiller proudly accepts a gold and silver trophy buckle Caley Hill, Regional Marketing Manager for GMC.
Photo By Fred Vidiuk

A night of celebration took take place at the Grey Eagle Casino in Calgary with the 38th 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 2018 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 Calgary Stampede Track Announcer Joe Carbury, active supporters Sharon Poberznick, Don Claughton, May Mann, Donnie Walker, Garth Lawrance and Diana Savage, former chuckwagon judge Gary Towers, champion chuckwagon horse Cougar Mountain Lodge, and former competitors Oris Lyster, Cody Bengtson, Ernie Irving and Roy David.

2018 World Champion Outrider Rory Gervais (R) receives a trophy buckle from
WPCA President Ed Wittchen (R).

Photo By Fred Vidiuk

Kurt Bensmiller was the top honoree this year as he captured the 2018 World Chuckwagon Championship for the 3rd time in his illustrious career, and Rory Gervais was the 2018 World Champion Outrider for the for the first time in his career. 

The 2018 "Jim Bottomley Trophy" for WPCA Chuckwagon Person of the Year
was presented to recipient Logan Gorst (R) from WPCA President Ed Wittchen (L).

Photo By Fred Vidiuk

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 chuckwagon driver Logan Gorst receiving the prestigious award.

Wendy Daniel (L) of the Ranchmans Cookhouse and Dance Hall presents a commemorative plaque to former driver Neal Walgenbach (L) for being recognized with the 2018 WPCA Special Tribute Award.
Photo By Fred Vidiuk

The WPCA Special Tribute was given to former chuckwagon great Neal Walgenbach. Vern Nolin received the WPCA Clean Drive Award for least penalized driver and the Herman Flad Memorial Award for Most Improved Driver Award, while Ethan Motowylo received the Rod Glass Memorial Award for Most Improved Outrider for the second consecutive year.  Josh Hrynyk was named the WPCA's Top Rookie Driver, and Brendan Nolin was named the WPCA Top Rookie Outrider.

Outrider Eddie Melville (far right) from Import Tool Corp. Ltd., presents the
2018 Equine Outfit of Excellence Awards to:
(L-R): Evan Salmond on behalf of his horse "COWBOY," Kurt Bensmiller on behalf of his horse “GRATITAT,” John Walters on behalf of his horse “DANCER.”
Gary Gorst on behalf of his horse "UNQUIET," Jason Glass on behalf of his horse "ED,"
Eddie Melville on behalf of Mike Vigen's horse "BUTCH."

Photo By Fred Vidiuk

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 for the second consecutive year, “GRATITAT” of Kurt Bensmiller’s outfit on Left Lead, “COWBOY” of Evan Salmond’s outfit on Right Wheel, “BUTCH” of Mike Vigen’s outfit on Left Wheel, and “unquiet” of Gary Gorst’s outfit and “ED” of  Rick Fraser/Jason Glass’outfit were the champion Outriding Horses.

Vern Nolin (R), the recipient of the Herman Flad Memorial Award revives a trophy buckle from chuckwagon driver Troy Flad (L).
Photo By Fred Vidiuk

Other award winners included Western Financial Group, Fortis Alberta and H & E Oilfield Services Ltd. who each received a WPCA Active Supporter Award, the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede received the WPCA Top Race Committee Award, The Photographers - Fred Vidiuk, Shellie Scott and Paul and Carol Easton - received the WPCA Media Award, Bonnie Walters received the Ty Tournier Memorial Award, and Dave Rookes received the WPCA Judging Award. Steve Durbak also received Special Recognition from the WPCA.

The event, hosted by track announcer Les McIntyre was a tremendous success, and congratulations to all the 2018 champions and award winners.

Billy Melville