Alberta Chicken Producers – Who Are We?

Today’s guest post is from the Alberta Chicken Producers. Who are they? Read on to find out and you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Alberta Chicken Producers is a provincial ‘farmer-run’ organization, representing our 245 registered chicken farmers in Alberta. Our chickens are raised for meat consumption.
Our farmers are local families who are passionately committed to providing consumers with safe, high quality, locally produced chicken, raised under the highest standards of animal care and food safety.

  • 100% of chicken farmers in Alberta are certified under national Animal Care and On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Programs as a condition of their licenses to market chicken.
  • Our farms are audited and certified annually by a third party auditors.
  • Our farms are 100% family owned and operated
  • By looking for the “Raised by a Canadian Farmer” label in your grocery store, you know you are getting fresh chicken. In fact, the majority of fresh chicken sold in Alberta was raised in Alberta.

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Our industry is growing sustainably.

  • Our 245 farms produce over 128 million kg live weight of chicken annually, with a farm gate value of over $203 million. All of this is accomplished without subsidies or taxpayer dollars.
  • 69% of Alberta’s Chicken farmers are between the ages of 18 and 49. In 2013, Alberta saw 9 new entrants into the chicken industry.
  • Our unique combination of youth and experience has cemented our place in Alberta’s dynamic economic environment for years to come.

We place high value on the partnerships that define our industry.

  • We are part of a community, an integrated value chain, working closely with hatcheries, processors, feed companies, researchers, and agriculture boards at the provincial and national level.

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Alberta Chicken Producers values our relationships with industry stakeholders, as exemplified by the Shared Industry Vision:

“To continue to grow, be profitable, and satisfy consumers by providing safe, high quality chicken products.”

In support of this Shared Industry Vision, Alberta Chicken Producer’s Mission is:

“To serve our producers by collaboratively providing an environment for profitable chicken production and encouraging a competitive, consumer-focused chicken industry.”

Our booth will be operated by the best experts in the chicken industry….our farmers!! We will have baby chicks, a chicken barn display unit and plenty of give-aways. Our farmers look forward to answering any of your questions.

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Chicken is the most popular protein in Canada, and we look forward to sharing our story!

Horsemanship at the heart of Aggie Days Extreme Cowboy Race

The Calgary Stampede is excited to be hosting an Aggie Days Extreme Cowboy Race on Sunday, April 12.  The race, which is a multi-faceted equestrian sporting event that showcases both horse and rider as they maneuver through a series of obstacles, shows amazing horsemanship and incredible speed. The event coincides with Aggie Days, an exhibit-style event geared to help youth learn about agriculture.

David Cowley, an extreme cowboy competitor, is eagerly waiting for this spring’s competition. “[The race] is a lot of fun,” he says, “and having a competition that focuses on the trust and relationship between horse and rider is great.” His first extreme cowboy race was in 2010 during Stampede time at the Cowboy Up Challenge and he has been a competitor in the Aggie Days Extreme Cowboy Race since last year.

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Cowley adding a little extra flair to the competition by standing on his horse to rope the dummy at last year’s Cowboy Up Challenge during Stampede time

Cowley is well-known in Calgary for bringing his horse to the top of the Calgary Tower during Stampede time. “There’s nothing better than seeing peoples’ faces when I walk out of the elevator at the top with my horse,” he says with a laugh. Cowley has trained and taken six different horses up the tower over the past 15 years. This year, he will be bringing Tucker, a palomino quarter horse. Cowley appreciates the opportunity to promote the Stampede and western hospitality. “People don’t often understand how strong the bond can be between horse and rider,” Cowley says.

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Cowley crouching on the glass floor at the top of the Calgary Tower with his horse Tucker

Training a horse to feel confident and comfortable enough to ride the elevator all the way up the Calgary Tower, then walk around and take photos with guests, is a big task and requires a strong bond between horse and rider. Cowley loves strengthening this bond and is thrilled to participate in a competition that focuses on this trust.

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Aggie Days then and now

Aggie Days, taking place from April 8 – 12 at Stampede Park, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. This educational program, which features displays, exhibits, animals and more, has grown significantly over the years.

In 1986, the first Aggie Days program was created for school children to experience agriculture up-close and learn where their food comes from. Aggie Days took place in a small part of the Agriculture Barns and featured a few exhibits and animals, mainly dairy cattle. The school classes were accompanied by a tour guide that took them through the exhibits, through the show cattle at the dairy classic, and made sure the students arrives at their scheduled demos on time.

In the years following, the Aggie Days team added to the animal experience by providing sheep shearing, cow milking demonstrations and wagon rides pulled by heavy horse teams. The experience of what life is like on a farm was beginning to round out. All of the demonstrations showcased the importance of agriculture and the various types of agricultural roles that shape our world.

Aggie Days’ success thrived; the classes returned, year after year, and the committee was eager to exceed their expectations. The interest youth had in agriculture was a driving force to heighten their Aggie Days experiences; even more exhibits were added. Cattle presentations, rope making demonstrations, butter making, wheat grinding and bread making were new highlights of Aggie Days. At this time, Aggie Days grew to occupy half of the Agriculture Barns and expanded into the Victoria Pavilion, which was used for the cow milking and sheep shearing demonstrations, and the noon hour entertainment.

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Aggie Days dairy exhibit in the Agriculture Barns 1993

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Harry the Horse turns 30!

Harry the Horse made his first public appearance on March 14, 1985 at Rodeo Royal, and he has been charming Stampede audiences ever since. During Stampede time, Harry makes about 100 appearances every day. He spends the rest of the year attending events all over Alberta and throughout the world.

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Harry posing in a jet outside the Scotiabank Saddledome

Harry’s Predecessors: Jim Dandy and Nellie

The Stampede’s first mascots were Jim Dandy and Nellie, an old-timer riding his trusty mare with a bushy tail. One year, Jim and Nellie attended the President’s Ball of the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. They gave the event some much-needed western spirit.

Unfortunately when Jim and Nellie turned to leave, Nellie’s bushy tail knocked right through a table, sending wine and more onto guests! Poor Jim and Nellie were put out to pasture shortly thereafter, and Harry the Horse was called to step in and take over.

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Jim Dandy and Nellie entertaining the crowd

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Agriculture in the Classroom

We are excited to have a new guest post on our blog today, especially because Aggie Days is all about teaching school kids about agriculture. Allison Ammeter is a grain farmer and Director with Alberta Pulse Growers.  Alongside her husband of 28 years, Michael, Allison operates a third-generation grain farm southwest of Sylvan Lake, Alberta. The Ammeters crop approximately 2,000 acres in a rotation of canola, wheat, barley, and peas, with occasional oats or hay in the mix, practicing minimum tillage and using variable rate seeding technology. Based in agricultural zone 2/3, with grey wooded soil, the farm experiences an extremely short growing season every year by North American standards. You can follow Allison on Twitter.

I was asked to write a blog post for Aggie Days about Agriculture in the Classroom, and my first thought was that of course I’d like to promote Ag in the Classroom, it’s an amazing program, but these readers would know all about it, right?  I mean, these are people who organize another amazing program, Aggie Days. My second thought was that maybe people reading this blog would just like to know what is being taught their children in school. I’m writing this for that second group. I’m a farmer – 100% of my yearly income comes from growing crops, and I’ve lived on a farm all but about 5 years of my life (single female years). I absolutely love agriculture and Canada’s ability to feed not only so many Canadians, but also so much of the hungry world. When I realized there was an opportunity to tell my story to 10 year olds who likely knew very little about the agriculture around them, I jumped at it. That is how I got involved in Ag in the Classroom.

The Classroom Agriculture Program (CAP) was started by Vickie King, a member of the Alberta Women in Support of Agriculture, with funds from the Alberta Cattle Commission. I got involved in 1987, was set to teach in a local school, and was given curriculum that told all about raising cattle and all the various consumer products that eventually come from the animal. I couldn’t do it – I felt like as a grain farmer, I was really not speaking about anything I knew, so I backed out. Flash forward 25 years, and I find out that CAP is now supported by the Alberta Beef producers, but also the Barley Commission, Canola Producers Commission, Chicken Producers, Egg Producers, Pulse Growers Commission, Veterinary Assoc, Irrigation Assocs, Olds College, and Agrium. Farmers of all types are encouraged to speak to children about what they, as producers, know and understand. I’m back in!

Classroom Agriculture Program
CAP’s mission is to provide students with quality, comprehensive agriculture learning experiences that lead to a greater understanding and support for the agriculture industry in Alberta. It is presented to Grade 4 students across Alberta at no charge. Volunteers deliver the program story-telling, engaging props and fun activities, and leave behind fun student booklets for the children to learn more about each of the main agricultural products in Alberta.

When I go into a classroom, I am prepared to talk to the kids about crops in our area, because that is what I know. When a chicken farmer goes in – they talk about raising poultry. When a vet goes in, they talk about their work. That’s the beauty of the program, the children (and their teachers) learn about agriculture from people who are doing it and loving it. So, what do I do when I go in? I take shoe boxes full of samples of all the main crops grown in Alberta – wheat, barley, oats, canola, peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas. As I’m passing them around, I ask the kids what they had for lunch, and point out what they ate that is made from what I grow (always enlightening for them). I give each of the kids a small handful of wheat for them to “make wheat gum, just like a farm kid”. I get one of them to grind wheat for me (with a portable hand grinder), to show them how flour is made. I roll out canola and show them the oil and the meal, explaining its use and purpose. I take hummus and show them the chickpeas it started as. I narrate a YouTube video from a friend’s farm of the growing season, answering questions as it plays.

Above all, I spend the hour interacting with the class (teacher included), answering any and all questions that are thrown at me.  My goal is to be a link between them and agriculture, and I always leave my contact information, telling them I’m available any time they have any questions or need any information. So much of Alberta’s population is no longer directly connected to our critical industry of agriculture, and I truly want to be a resource in my community for the teachers!

2015 Dairy Classic Championship Show

Last weekend, crowds gathered to the Calgary Stampede Agriculture Barns for the 2015 Dairy Classic Champion Show.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

On Saturday, March 21, I attended the Dairy Classic to learn about what it takes to raise award-winning milk cows. Those in attendance saw dairy farmers reaping the rewards of decades of labour and generations worth of effort. The cows featured at the Dairy Classic have been selectively bred for milk production and type– the udders shown in the show are noticeably larger and the bodies are more streamlined than beef cattle you’re likely to see on your drives outside Calgary.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

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2015 Canvas Auction

There was a lot of excitement and great energy at the 2015 Canvas Auction last night. More than 160 organizations attended the auction in hopes of being one of the lucky few who will become part of Calgary Stampede history.

Jamie Laboucane, professional Chuckwagon driver.

Pictured: Jamie Laboucane, professional Chuckwagon driver.

The annual Canvas Auction is known as an exclusive Albertan experience—an opportunity for advertisers to become a part of one of Canada’s most iconic events, the GMC Rangeland Derby.

Since 1923, Chuckwagon racing has been a part of the Calgary Stampede’s DNA. The auction, an annual tradition since 1978, helps to sustain this unique western Canadian heritage sport. Today, the GMC Rangeland Derby is enjoyed by a live audience of more than 190,000 and broadcasted nationally.

The 2015 Canvas Auction stage is adorned with beautiful Chuckwagon bronzes of  Calgary Stampede past.

The 2015 Canvas Auction stage is adorned with beautiful Chuckwagon bronzes of Calgary Stampede past.

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Stampede School students explore the meaning of truth and cowboy poetry

Stampede School is an exciting part of students’ school year; students come to Stampede Park and participate in many hands-on learning activities. Most recently, Stampede School was thrilled to host Roxane Oster’s fourth grade class from Brentwood school. Throughout the week, the students explored union cemetery, met and learned about horses, participated in a Treaty 7 cultural presentation, and met a very special guest lecturer. The special guest was Bryn Thiessen; together Thiessen and the class explored the concept of truth and cowboy poetry.

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Bryn Thiessen

Theissen, a rancher and a preacher, finds inspiration for his poems all around his ranch near Sundre, Alberta. Known locally as a poet and historian, Thiessen began his teachings with questions of “what is truth?”

Through a collaborative discussion, Thiessen and the grade four students decided that the truth is the same for all times, places and people; it never changes. Next, was the term wise counsel, which is advise given from a person who is widely trusted and known for having great knowledge. Wise counsel is not the same everywhere, so cannot be true at all times. Finally, there is personal preference; this isn’t considered wide truth, but is true to individual perspective.

Bryn ThiessenStudents participating in Thiessen’s lesson

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Around the World in five Days

Well, these last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity for the trio! We have been travelling fools lately, both literally and metaphorically speaking. We have recently returned from Berlin, Germany where we attended the ITB travel show.

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Kimberly Stewart, Mick Plemel and Haley Peckham with representatives from around the world

ITB Berlin is the largest travel trade show in the world. This show hosts booths from every country in the world, with representatives present to answer consumers questions about destinations and also to meet with other travel agents to set up travel alliances. There were 26 exhibit halls in total and each hall held anywhere from two to around 10 countries in each room. When we were able to walk around, we caught a glimpse of every country in the world; it was a very cool experience.

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The Stampede Queen and Princesses at the trade show

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The Showband Announces its 2015 Production: The Edge

With a successful winter performance season winding down, the Calgary Stampede Showband is excited to announce its 2015 production titled, “The Edge”. For those who aren’t familiar with the marching arts, these productions are typically 10-12 minutes and tell a story through music, movement, and theatre – very different than what you typically see from marching bands in parades. These productions are part of how the Showband provides outstanding performance and educational opportunities for its members, which include brass and woodwinds players, percussionists, a colour guard, and dancers. Last year, the Showband won its fifth world championship in Brazil with its 2014 field show, “Aurora”.

The Showband performing "Aurora" during Showbands Live! at Hellard Field.

The Showband performing “Aurora” during Showbands Live! at Hellard Field.

Inspired by popular children’s literature, “The Edge” will depict the journey from reality to imagination. As a young girl travels down a city sidewalk, her mind wanders as she plays at the edge. Like any young child, she plays with objects in reality and builds a whole new world in her imagination; she’ll leave dreary city streets and be transported to a world filled with adventure, joy, and hope. The edge of the sidewalk represents that journey of the mind, that moment or place where we drift away into that world of imagination.

The Showband’s visual coordinator Jacqueline Meyler, who has previously worked with Spirit of Atlanta Drum & Bugle Corps from Atlanta, Georgia, and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, says it will be a very visually-driven production. As explained by Jacqueline, “the marching members are learning to remove themselves from their comfort zone, and will be learning creative choreography that will help depict the storyline. The idea is that the ensemble removes itself from ‘the status quo’ completely and transforms into a world of imagination”.

Music for the field show, arranged by Michael Klesch, will include “Frozen Cathedral” and “Xerxes” by John Mackey and “Plastic Satin” by Ryan George. Assistant Director Ryan Hancock reveals that “Xerxes” will represent one of the darkest moments of the show and that the band finally embraces hope and imagination during “Frozen Cathedral”.

The Showband won a world championship title with its 2012 production, "The Legend Continues".

The Showband won its 3rd world championship title with its 2012 production, “The Legend Continues”.

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Stampede Queen’s top three memories of 2015 so far

Well hello again! I hope the winter hasn’t been too rough on you and that you are looking forward to the spring and upcoming rodeo season as much as I am!

These past few months have been packed full of fun adventures and it is hard to believe that the Princesses and I are almost at the halfway point in our reign. There are already countless stories that I could tell you about what has happened, but I will narrow it down to the top three.

The first very memorable incident took place a few months ago while I was on a family trip in Mexico. We all went out for dinner one evening to a small restaurant that had a picturesque patio overlooking the beach. I am sure you can imagine my surprise when I noticed three Calgary Stampede posters hanging on the wall, so out of curiosity I had to ask the waiter (who was also the restaurant owner) if he was a fan of the Calgary Stampede. He replied that yes, he was a big fan and that one day he and his wife would love to make the trip to Calgary to go to the Stampede. Well, he was just as surprised to find out that I was the 2015 Stampede Queen as I was to see the CS posters hanging in his restaurant. So naturally, we needed to have our picture taken together. I think this moment stuck with me the most because I have always known of the international fame of the Calgary Stampede, but had never directly experienced it until one evening on a family trip.

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Mick Plemel with restaurant owner and waiter in Mexico

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Warren Connell takes the reins as Calgary Stampede chief executive officer

 

Pictured: Calgary Stampede chief executive officer, Warren Connell

Pictured: Calgary Stampede CEO, Warren Connell

Enthusiastic employees from across the Park welcomed Warren Connell, in true Stampede style, on his first day as CEO. We lined the streets to guide Connell to the designated CEO parking spot. A red carpet outlined where the parking spot was located– and just in case Connell wasn’t sure where to park, we created a directional signs for this momentous occasion.

Connell was greeted by streamers, a lively Showband performance and cheers from the Stampede family. We are pleased and proud to welcome our new leader; we couldn’t be more excited to begin the next chapter of our story.

 

People and accomplishments celebrated at the 2015 Calgary Stampede Annual General Meeting

The Calgary Stampede’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) is a time to conduct the business of the organization, elect directors and celebrate the achievements of the past year.

Last night, shareholders* gathered and voted in 11 directors (two new directors and nine incumbents).

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We said goodbye to retiring CEO Vern Kimball, outgoing president & chairman of the board, Bob Thompson, director, Jackie Engstrom, and appointed director, Allen Hagerman. We also welcomed incoming president, Bill Gray, vice-chair, Dave Sibbald, second vice-chair, Dana Peers, incoming CEO, Warren Connell, and two deserving recipients of the Stampede Life Member award, Mike Ross and Peter Valentine.

Pictured: Vice-chair, Dave Sibbald, president & chair of the board, Bill Gray, second vice-chair, Dana Peers

Pictured: Vice-chair, Dave Sibbald, president & chair of the board, Bill Gray, second vice-chair, Dana Peers

As we reflected on the events and programming of the last year—from completely recovering after the 2013 flood, to the launch of the Agrium Western Event Centre, to our plans to relocate Indian Village and develop ENMAX Park, SAM Centre and Youth Campus, it’s clear that the 2015 AGM was about celebrating how the Stampede is successfully becoming a year-round gathering place for the community.

The evening was an emotional one as the Stampede family bid farewell to retiring CEO, Kimball, who has poured his heart and soul into the company over the last 29 years. Thompson kicked off the night by assuring the audience that the meeting did not signify “a point of departure from our energy and enthusiasm that fueled us for a hundred years, but was instead a broadening of our purpose through the development of a year-round gathering place for all to enjoy.”

There was a lot to celebrate last night—our recent achievements due to the “the energized passion from thousands and thousands of volunteers stretching from 1912 to today”said Thompson. Thompson also shared that Stampede volunteers are the fabric of our distinct culture and that our passion and dedication for the Greatest Show on Earth, maintains the Stampede as a constant, even in the face of devastating floods and economic uncertainty.

In his remarks, Kimball shared his perspective on the last 10 years of Stampede history. He revisited the organization’s achievements under the six presidents he worked with during his time as CEO. Kimball then offered congratulations and endorsement to new leaders, Gray and Connell, noting them as the best candidates to lead our organization into the next chapter. He thanked the community, volunteers and employees for working continuously to exceed the both the world’s expectations and his own.

As the evening came to a close, one final surprise was dropped on the audience—literally. To the beat of 12 drummers and hundreds of falling balloons, the final capital campaign total was revealed: $131,236,580!

Pictured: Bob Thompson, Vern Kimball, Foundation board chair, Ann McCaig, and Foundation board vice-chair Steve Allan

Pictured: Bob Thompson, Vern Kimball, Foundation board chair, Ann McCaig, and Foundation board, We’re Greatest Together campaign co-chair Steve Snyder.

The campaign funding enables us to continue our work in becoming a year-round gathering place for the community through the upcoming development of Youth Campus, ENMAX Park and the completed Agriculture Discovery Zone with the year-old Agrium Western Event Centre. As Thompson said, “the moment the organization opens its big barn door, steps out and sees a new invigorated Stampede Park, a gathering place for youth, world-class facilities, unlike anything we have had in our past.”

Everyone left the AGM feeling nostalgic for how far we have come as an organization, proud of our most recent accomplishments together and hopeful for the future.

Kimball said it best, “the Stampede’s work is not done; it is just beginning.”

Pictured: Vern Kimball, retiring CEO

Pictured: Vern Kimball, retiring CEO

 
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*Becoming a Calgary Stampede shareholder:

After a minimum of four years as an active volunteer, volunteers are eligible to become a shareholder. The board approves all shareholder nominations; once approved the volunteer purchases a $5 share to become a shareholder of the Calgary Stampede. Shares do not grant dividends or appreciate, nor can they be sold. Shareholders who don’t attend the shareholder meeting by proxy or in person for three years in a row will lose their shareholder status. The Calgary Stampede has 1,963 shareholders.

Alberta Farm Animal Care

Today’s blog post is written by Kristen Mortensen of Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC). You can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter.

Who are we?

Twenty-two years ago, Alberta Farm Animal Care was started by a livestock industry that recognized the need for moral consideration of farm animals in our care and, thus, is thoroughly grounded on ethical principles. We continue this tradition today by making animal welfare our main business as we develop into the collective voice of the livestock industry on matters of livestock care.

The value of AFAC lies in the focus on farm animals. Our staff have specialized in animal welfare and are skilled at understanding animal behavior, being able to interpret research, and providing expertise to our members on animal care or welfare issues/concerns.

So what are a few things that we have we been up to lately?

Well, coming up we have our annual Livestock Care Conference where members of the industry, researchers, students, government, and the public come together to address challenges and issues facing the livestock industry today. This year’s conference includes topics on social media, understanding animal welfare and consumer perceptions, and a cattle handling and body condition scoring workshop!

ALERT Line – A confidential call line for anyone to report livestock care concerns. We have a Resource Team that includes farmers and other rural community members who offer solutions to improve livestock care. As well we work with rural veterinarians, the Alberta SPCA and RCMP. The number is 1-800-506-2273.

So come by our booth and say hi! We have resources for kids, adults, and teachers on livestock welfare and care and are always happy to answer any questions!

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Kristen Mortensen and Kristen Hall with Mayor Nenshi at Aggie Days 2014

Stampede Talent Search hopefuls learned that auditioning is not just about impressing the judges.

More than 90 young performers between ages six and 21 attended a workshop at Lord Beaverbrook High School last Saturday to glean tips from industry professionals on how to give their best audition. This free workshop was the first event on the Stampede Talent Search calendar for 2015, and all the participants left feeling more confident to own the stage.

Before being assigned to speaker sessions focusing on their specific talent, participants were inspired, motivated and serenaded by Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, our 2007 champion.

MIchael Bernard Fitzgerald performing  next to his 2007 winning performance picture.

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald performing next to his 2007 winning performance picture.

“Striving for perfection in an audition is unrealistic and unfair,” said Fitzgerald. “Prepare to be you, be your best and love what you do.”

The singer/songwriter session was hosted by Canadian Country Music Association nominated vocal duo Wildflower, Jennie Clarke and Dean Selby. “When it comes to song choices, it doesn’t matter if you’re singing a cover song or an original,” said Clarke, “it’s the sincerity of how you sing it that will showcase your talent.”

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