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Weekes' Wade Salmond wins top rookie award at Stampede

Wade Salmond had an exciting first Calgary Stampede.
Wade Salmond of Weekes won the 2023 Orville Strandquist Memorial Award for being the top rookie at the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races.

WEEKES — A local chuckwagon racer finished his time at the Calgary Stampede on a high note

Wade Salmond of Weekes got the top rookie honour, the 2023 Orville Strandquist Memorial Award.

He also defeated Chanse Vigen in a race. Vigen is a five-time World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) World Champion outrider who placed third at the Stampede.

Wade spoke with and said winning that final race against Vigen and also claiming the top rookie award made for an exciting first Calgary Stampede.

“Chanse has been the fastest in the WPCA all season and to be able to compete and come out with a win against him just proved I can run with the best of them.”

Wade also wanted fans to know that he was also racing for two people who he and his brother, Evan lost just recently, his uncle Raymond Salmond of Weekes and Dale Hill of Tisdale/Crooked River area. Both Salmond brothers lost men in their lives who taught them so much about horses and racing chuckwagons.

Wade ended up tied for 11th place in Calgary. Evan Salmond, who was ranked third in the WPCA tour, ended up placing 13th. Evan’s horses weren’t quite running as fast as they had been but staying clean and having no penalties also paid off with some cash payouts for him. Wade ended up with 13 seconds of penalties which proved hard to get into the top three positions for the dash for the cash.

Both Salmond brothers are in High River next, with Strathmore, Dawson Creek and Rocky Mountain House to finish the WPCA season off with the final races in Calgary.

Wade Salmond’s daughter Jorja had also gained a following during the Stampede. Kim Salmond, Wade’s wife, said that Jorja didn’t know she was going to be competing in the Wild Pony race until a couple weeks prior to the Stampede. Jorja competes with her best friend, Maddie Jo Irvine from Bonnyville, daughter of Doug Irvine, also a veteran chuckwagon driver at the Calgary Stampede, and anchorman Mason Mercier, also a family friend of Doug Irvine. Kim said they tried to get them entered in Calgary but it was full. Her daughter’s team was then asked to compete in Bonnyville, and when they did well there, they were asked to compete Ponoka and when they won there, Calgary invited Jorja and her team to compete in Calgary. Jorja and her team ended up with the most rides, winning the wild pony event.

One video on the Cowboy channel now has over 300,000 views since she competed at the Calgary Stampede.

Jorja said that the most memorable moment for her at the Calgary Stampede was having her dad win top rookie and of course winning the Wild Pony Race.

Wade and Evan both said they recognize that their success stems from supportive families and also mentioned their father, Neil. It takes many hands to ensure the horses are ready to go when it’s race day. De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. are Wade and Evan's main sponsors throughout the season.