“The Calgary Stampede is such a hard week, it’s a lot of work, we want the guys to have fun when they come to Bonnyville,” it’s well-known throughout the Chuckwagon circuit that Bonnyville is the fun stop, says Tina Michaud. “We try to make it as fun and relaxing as possible,” Tina explains of course race night is serious business, money and pride is on the line, but in between the races Bonnyville makes sure to let loose.
For the drivers and their family’s there’s a certain anticipation for Bonnyville because they know the Ladies of the WPCA Day Spa and the Pontoon Boat Party on Moose Lake are coming up.
Nine years ago, when the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) came back to Bonnyville, Tina’s mom, Joanne was instrumental in bringing the sport back to town. Joanne had followed the Rainbow Wagon (Rae, Burt & Rae Jr) for years, both in the news and on the circuit. What she noticed was the ladies worked just as hard as the men, only no one knew it, explains Tina. “It was mom’s idea, of course, because she’s the brains behind most things,” laughing Tina recalls following the Croteaus on the circuit, “we see the women, the wives, the daughters, doing so much work. Not only do they do the cooking, the cleaning, watching the kids; but now they’re washing the horses, cleaning stalls. You name it, they’re doing it.”
“No one wants their autograph, no one is inviting them to the pancake breakfasts, they don’t wave to the crowd; the get almost zero recognition,” thus the Ladies of the WPCA Day Spa was born, says Tina. “We appreciate you here in Bonnyville, because we know how hard you work.”
The ladies are treated to numerous spa treatments from local professionals. Many hair stylists, nail technicians, pedicurists, estheticians, massage therapists, and other specialists come to give the lady’s the full works; all donated time and free of charge. For years the event was held at the bowling alley, which the Michauds owned, but since selling the building to Ross & Sylvestre’s the location has moved, but the love out of the building remains. Ross & Sylvestre Chartered Accountants are the main sponsor of the spa and without them it wouldn’t be possible, says Tina.
“The women are so generous, and they usually leave tips,” Tina says the tips are turned into donations for a local charity. This year any money raised will go to Redneck’s With a Cause.
“The Pontoon Party just kind of happened,” says Tina. What started with one or two boats has turned into an unwritten tradition on Moose Lake. What happens is some kind of magic, “the residents who live on Moose Lake, who ever has a bontoon boat, will just come out.” Tina says the boat owners just kinda know to show up and they’ll host different ride for the drivers, and their families.
“At each stop there’s different things for drivers and the adults to do, but Bonnyville is the only stop where the kids get to be kids,” Tina says a lot of the time the wagon kids’ summers are taken over by chores and the routine of the circuit. Unlike many other kids they don’t get to enjoy the lakes as much. In Bonnyville, the committee makes sure the kids get to enjoy the water, go tubing, and have some fun while they’re here. “It’s really great to see.”
Both events are private for the WPCA, but involve a lot of community donations and volunteerism. Even Tina is no longer on the Chuckwagon committee, but she’s always found on the grounds before the event, staying late and getting up early to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. She takes the lead on the Day Spa and is known to walk the barns to make sure every outfit is comfortable and enjoying their stay in Bonnyville.