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WPCA Mourns The Loss Of Rodeo Legend And Chuckwagon Active Supporter Harry Vold


Harry Vold (R) with Tiny Towes (C) and Cliff Claggett (L)
January 29, 1924 - March 13, 2017

The World Professional Chuckwagon Association was saddened by passing of rodeo legend and former chuckwagon active supporter Harry Vold on Monday, March 13, 2017 from natural causes at the age of 93 years.

Harry Vold grew up in the Asker area east of Ponoka, Alberta. Following in his father's footsteps, Vold started auctioneering at age 15. Harry was an auctioneer for one year at the Edmonton Stock Yards, and then for 8 years at the Calgary Stock Yards. Vold and his brother Ralph, along with Bill and Shorty Jones, then purchased an auction barn in Ponoka, Alberta. Vold, Jones, and Vold, was a very successful auction business for over 50 years. Vold continued to work as the auctioneer at special events until just a few years before his death.

Vold was a cowboy. Growing up in the Depression era times were hard, and as a child Vold broke and traded horses to help earn money. Along with his brothers, Vold built the Asker Stampede Grounds and held the first rodeo there in 1944. In the spring of 1947, Harry went to work for legendary rodeo and chuckwagon promotor Cliff Claggett and was one of the originals in the very first "Cliff Claggett Stampedes” rodeo and chuckwagon racing circuit in northern Saskatchewan. The following year in 1948, Harry Vold, Red Pillisbury and Tom Dorchester got together and entered a chuckwagon at the Calgary Stampede under the name of Harry Vold - Ponoka. With Pillisbury handling the outfit, the Harry Vold outfit cashed cheques in two rounds in its debut year. The trioentered the wagon a second yer in 1949 as well.

By 1948 Harry had put together a small bunch of bucking horses and put on some small rodeos of his own. Vold also competed in the saddle bronc and bareback riding during that time. As a result of buying, selling, and trading all classes of horses Vold began selling bucking horses to Leo Cremer of Cremer Rodeo Company in Big Timber, Montana, one of the premier stock contractors of the time. In 1952 Vold had a load of horses to ship to Cremer in Montana, but the border closed due to a foot-and-mouth outbreak. Vold was able to convince the rodeo committee in Ponoka to let him buck the horses there. They bucked so well the committee in Stettler, Alberta, asked him to provide the horses for their rodeo. Vold and his brother trailed the horses 75 miles to that rodeo, and his career as a stock contractor was well underway.

Vold first got involved in the rodeo business in the United States in 1967. He purchased a large ranch southeast of Pueblo, Colorado, in 1968. After being associated with several other notable stock contractors, Vold formed the Harry Vold Rodeo Company in 1970.

Vold has provided stock to rodeos around the country, including many of the largest and most prestigious rodeos, serving as the stock contractor continuously for over 20 years for many of them. He was well-known for the quality of the production of his rodeos as well as the quality of his stock. He has provided bucking stock to the National Finals Rodeo every year since its inception and has served as the stock contractor for the College National Finals Rodeo for many years. Vold has had many of the most acclaimed horses and bulls in professional rodeo, with many of them being named bucking horse or bull of the year for the PRCA. Harry Vold Rodeo Company continues to provide bucking horses to numerous rodeos, most recently Denver, San Antonio, and Houston.

Vold became a legend in professional rodeo, earning the nickname "Duke of the Chutes." He was named Stock Contractor of the Year for the PRCA 11 times. He has been inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, the Canadian Hall of Fame, as well as the Hall of Fame for numerous rodeos, including Cheyenne, Pendleton, Pikes Peak, Fort Smith, Ellensburg, and Dodge City. He was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and named ProRodeo Hall of Fame Legend of Rodeo. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper and magazine articles and at least 1 book.

Vold was respected and admired for his sound business judgment, honesty, fairness, and his willingness to help virtually anyone. He was always calm and was known for his sage comments, his wit, his charm, and his unselfishness. He served on numerous boards and committees in professional rodeo and on the board of the US Bank in Pueblo, Colorado. He was a mentor and good friend to contestants, rodeo committees, stock contractors, announcers, clowns and bullfighters, pickup men, and others involved in rodeo. He was also highly regarded by people outside the rodeo business, including ranchers, bankers, and business people. In spite of his popularity with such a wide variety of people of all ages, including many well-known celebrities, Vold always remained modest and humble and enjoyed the phone calls he received every day, visiting about everything from politics to cattle prices, and enjoyed having people come to the ranch.

Vold grew up next to an Indian reservation, and he had a deep affection and admiration for the Indians. He was extremely proud to have been named an honorary Chief of the Sarcee Indian tribe in 1964. Appropriately, he was called Chief Many Horses.

Vold married Eileen Fessler of Ponoka, Alberta, in 1944. They had four children: Wayne, Dona, Doug and Darce. He married Karen Womack in 1972, and was blessed with her daughter, Nancy. They had one daughter together: Kirsten. Vold is survived by his wife, Karen, his children, Wayne, of High River, Alberta; Dona (Bill) Larsen, of Casper, Wyoming; Doug (Allison) of DeWinton, Alberta; Darce, of Greeley, Colorado; and Kirsten, of Avondale, Colorado; 12 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren, his brother, Ralph, of Ponoka, Alberta; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, daughter Nancy Vold, and brothers Clifford and Norman.

Vold's arrangements are being handled by Eaton Family Funeral Home of Fowler, Colorado. A private funeral and burial will be held in Fowler. Pallbearers are Darrell Barron, Mark Cotter, Brad Churchill, Vannie Halliday, Scott Walton, and Kenny Carpenter. Honorary pallbearers are Billy Ward, Rick Tune, Kip Olsen, and Randall Hund. A celebration of his life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on March 20, 2017, at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, 101 ProRodeo Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

On its Facebook page the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association has invited the community to a live stream at the Stagecoach Saloon of the Harry Vold memorial. The live stream starts at 1 p.m.

Harry will be missed by all in the WPCA, and we extend our sincere condolences to the Vold family.

Billy Melville


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