Fall reflections

Because the run up to and the 10 days (actually now more like two weeks) of Stampede are so busy it is no real surprise that August is a relatively quiet month around Stampede Park as many of our employees and volunteers take holiday time. One of the biggest stories of the summer was the Calgary Flames’ announcement of their proposed Calgary Next project in West Village. I think it is clear that the public consultation process for this project will be measured in years and not weeks or months and even if the project goes ahead the Flames are likely to be playing in the Saddledome for the next five years and possibly longer so we look forward to working with the Flames for at least that period.

Once September started, it was clear that everyone involved with the Stampede was back and working hard.  Lots has happened already this fall, including the following:


1. I attended the crowning ceremony for our new Calgary Stampede Queen and Princesses on September 28 in the Agrium Western Event Centre.  It was a great event and congratulations to our new Royal Trio, Calgary Stampede Queen Maggie Shortt and Calgary Stampede Princesses Chelsey Jacobson and Bailee Billington. I want to commend the outgoing Royal Trio, Mick, Kimberly and Haley, for being such great ambassadors for the Stampede and a fun bunch to work with.

206 Calgary Stampede Queen, Maggie Shorrt (middle), and Princesses, Chelsey Jacobson (left) and Bailee Billington (right) immediately following the crowning ceremony.

2016 Calgary Stampede Queen, Maggie Shorrt (middle), and Princesses, Chelsey Jacobson (left) and Bailee Billington (right) immediately following the crowning ceremony in the Agrium Western Event Centre.


2. I also had the pleasure of attending the Indian Princess crowning ceremony on Sunday, October 4.  It was an excellent and well-attended event and it was great to see five talented ladies vying for the position.  Congratulations to Vanessa Stiffarm who I know will be a great addition to our Royalty and a terrific representative of Indian Village.

2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, Vanessa Stiffarm receiving her crown.

2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, Vanessa Stiffarm receiving her crown.


3. On Monday, October 5 I was proud to unveil the original artwork for the 2016 Stampede Poster at an event at the Calgary Public Library.  The painting is titled “Born to Buck” and it represents and honours a stock breeding program carried on under the same name at the Stampede Ranch in Hanna, Alberta, as well as our successful rodeo stock contracting business, which services rodeos all across North America.  The artist, Michelle Grant, did a fantastic job of capturing the concept and she created a beautiful piece of art by any standard and the painting translates into an excellent poster.

Bill Gray, president and chairman on the board, artist Michelle Grant and the Calgary Stampede Queen & Princesses with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster artwork. Visit a Calgary Public Library between October 6 and 11 to take a selfie with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster and you could be entered to win a pair of tickets to the Rodeo or Evening Show and #Stampede2016. Visit www.calgarystampede.com/win2016poster for more details.

Artist Michelle Grant, the Calgary Stampede Queen & Princesses and me with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster artwork. Visit a Calgary Public Library between October 6 and 11, 2015 to take a selfie with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster and you could be entered to win a pair of tickets to the Rodeo or Evening Show and #Stampede2016. Visit www.calgarystampede.com/win2016poster for more details.


4. On a serious note, there is no question that many businesses and individuals in Calgary are facing tough economic times, as evidenced by the now almost daily announcements of job cuts.  Certainly the Stampede is not immune to the economic climate and you may be aware that we are revising our volunteer committee budgeting process accordingly. For the first time that I am aware of, a member of our Audit and Finance Committee Budget Group will be meeting directly with the Committee Chairs and staff liaisons to discuss and review the Committee budgets prior to their finalization.  The goal is to hopefully find some opportunities for savings but most importantly we wanted to involve the Committee Chairs in the decision-making process as I believe the Committees themselves know how their programs work and they are the best equipped to determine where cuts might be made and where they should not be made. I hope all the Committee Chairs will take the opportunity to provide their valuable input into this process.


School is back in session at the OH Ranch

The Calgary Stampede OH Ranch Grade Five Education Program began its second year of programming last week, welcoming classes from Altadore School in Calgary as our first visitors of the 2015/2016 academic year. At the OH Ranch, 9 km west of Longview, students, teachers and parent chaperones enjoy a fun-filled, interactive day of experiential learning “on the range”.


During the ridge hike, students gain an understanding of the geography of the land, and how the land contributes to our agricultural practices in Southwestern Alberta.


Here, Grade Five students contemplate the sights and sounds of the OH Ranch during a quiet reflection activity aimed at encouraging mindfulness.


Returning from the ridge hike, learners enjoy an exceptional view of our “outdoor classroom” and Steer Flats.

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Queen Mick’s Farewell

Hello there!

Seeing as I will soon be passing my crown, I feel as though I should get one last blog post in.

This past year has been nothing short of a great adventure. As with all life’s adventures, there were some highs and some lows, unexpected turns and a few plateaus, but most of all there were many, many memories made with wonderful people.

As my reign draws to an end many people are asking if I am sad that it’s almost over. I have to admit that after the unforgettable 10 days of the Calgary Stampede, I lamented a bit knowing that I would never be able to relive those 10 days. However, I entered this year knowing that it would inevitably come to an end, so while I could be sad and drag my heels, I have chosen to embrace this season and be nothing short of excited; excited for the next three young ladies who will be crowned and excited about my next chapter of life.


 Addressing the Grandstand during the Afternoon Rodeo.

This year’s competition brought out many extremely talented, smart, courageous, and beautiful ladies. I am sure glad I am not a judge; they have a very tough job to do! Whichever three ends up winning will certainly have earned the title. Continue reading

Stampede Employees in Action: Calgary Corporate Challenge 2015

Pictured: Team Calgary Stampede participating in the 2015 Torch Relay. Yahoo!

Pictured: Team Calgary Stampede participating in the 2015 Torch Relay. Yahoo!

The Calgary Stampede is proud to be part of Calgary Corporate Challenge (CCC) for the fifth year in a row! From volleyball to trivia, the Stampede RANGERS are ready for the challenge and eager to raise money to help support KidSport Calgary, the Calgary Food Bank, Heart and Stroke Foundation and Canadian Blood Services. Continue reading

The 2016 Royalty Trio crowning is almost here

You may think that all the excitement of the Stampede is over for another year, but for three integral Stampede volunteers, their year is just about to begin – while another three are savouring their last few weeks in their very special roles.

Most of you have already guessed who I am talking about: the Calgary Stampede Queen and Princesses.


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Back to school with the Calgary Stampede

Stepping off the school bus, after a long drive down a dirt road, with amazement in their eyes, a group of grade 5 students can’t believe the sight in front of them. The wide open Alberta skies and the blowing wind is nothing like the urban surroundings these students are used to. As the group heads towards the cabins and farm houses in the distance horses in a nearby field give them a warm glance, welcoming them to the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch education program.


Students astounded by the serene environment at the OH Ranch

At the same time, a second group of students are eagerly walking through the doors of the state-of-the-art, Agrium Western Event Centre in the heart of downtown Calgary. The rotunda entrance, complete with floor to ceiling windows and a view of the many Calgary skyscrapers in the distance, sets the stage for the program students are about to explore in Journey 2050.


The Agrium Western Event Centre, home to year-round agriculture programming in the heart of the city Continue reading

September is a Royal Month at the Calgary Stampede

The month of September has brought some major Royalty milestones throughout the Stampede’s 103-year history. Shannon Murray, historical specialist, walks us through this history as we eagerly prepare for the crowning of the 2016 Royalty Trio on Monday, September 28 at 7:30pm in the Agrium Western Event Centre on Stampede Park.

The first Stampede was held September 2-5, 1912. The event coincided with a visit from Their Royal Highnessess Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught (Canada’s Governor General), Princess Louise Margaret and their daughter Princess Patricia. The family stayed with Senator James Lougheed and his wife Lady Isabella at their home on 13th Avenue SW and attended the first Stampede Parade as well as a few Rodeo events. Ever the showman, Guy Weadick had a special welcome arch set up for the royals in an effort to draw more spectators to his event.


The Duke and Duchess of Connaught, riding in a carriage, pass under the “God Save the King” arch, specially built to welcome Their Royal Highnesses to Calgary.


The special box seats created for the Duke and Duchess of Connaught as they attended the first Calgary Stampede Rodeo in 1912. Continue reading

OH Ranch surpassed guests’ expectations during Alberta Open Farm Days

Breathtaking views and perfect late summer weather greeted nearly 500 guests at the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch during this August’s Open Farm Days. For the first time since the historic property was gifted to the Calgary Stampede Foundation in 2012, the OH Ranch opened its doors to the public for this unique event.


Guests learn about the North-West Mounted Police outpost at the OH Ranch

“I wanted to see it in the worst way” said Calgary Stampede volunteer alumnus Kevin Doyle, after taking the tour. “This country is one and a quarter steps from heaven. It really is special.” Those sentiments were echoed by many who took the opportunity to stop in for a visit. Some, like Doyle, have ties to the Calgary Stampede as volunteers or employees. Others curious about the OH Ranch came from as close by as Longview, Alberta to as far away as the Netherlands to see it for themselves. Continue reading

4-H Rodeo participants take Agrium Western Event Centre by storm

This summer, a dream came true for 16 year old Taylor Holt. “I’ve always watched the Calgary Stampede and it was so cool to compete there,” she said of taking part in the Stampede 4-H Rodeo. Holt is one of nearly 70 young athletes from 37 4-H clubs across Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia who came to Calgary for the annual event on August 22and 23.

“This is such a great event, 4-H is so amazing.” Holt said, after returning back home to British Columbia from the competition. Wins in the Senior Breakaway Roping and Goat Tying events, along with strong performances in three other events earned her the Senior High Point Championship. “I didn’t think I would win all-around, that was a bit of a surprise,” she admits, but adds it was well worth the drive to Calgary from Cranbrook, BC.

4-H1 4-H member competing in the Pole Bending Continue reading

O Canada!

Breathtaking, incredible, inspiring– these are just some of the terms used to describe the 2015 TransAlta Grandstand Show: Canadian Classic.

The 2015 TransAlta Grandstand Show - Classic Canadian

The 2015 TransAlta Grandstand Show – Classic Canadian

It’s hard to say what made this year’s show so amazing; between the tribute to Canadian innovation, allusions to our nation’s natural wonders, The Hockey Song and electrifying pyro technic displays, each set was just as astonishing as the last. But what made me tear up every single time without fail, was the nightly citizenship ceremony.

For 10 nights, live in front of an audience of 20,000 people, 13 immigrant families came onstage with The Young Canadian’s of the Calgary Stampede to take their citizenship oath and were celebrated in spectacular Stampede style.

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Labor Day Classic for Stampede Horses in Ellensburg

It may have been the Labor Day long weekend, but for the Calgary Stampede’s stock and crew it was business as usual out on the rodeo trail. The first stop of the weekend was the Armstrong Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede. I joined Barry McGrath, Catherine Laycraft, Tyler Kraft and the rest of our Calgary Stampede help to produce one of the top rodeos in Canada. The crowds were outstanding for each of the five nightly performances of rodeo, and the Calgary Stampede’s stock gave them a lot to cheer about.

This year’s Calgary Stampede Champion Bareback Rider, Clint Laye, matched up with a young horse named Wanaka Rocket for an 87.25 score and the win in the bareback riding. This win helps secure Clint’s chances at qualifying for his first National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

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Doors Open YYC is returning to the Calgary Stampede Grandstand!

On September 26 and 27, come get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the Calgary Stampede’s most unique areas. The Stampede tour was among Doors Open YYC’s most popular last year, and we are thrilled to be participating once again. This year, check out the Young Canadians’ costumes, enjoy the view from the Eye in the Sky, get an up-close look at the chutes, and new this year, tour the Infield suites.

Photo Credit: Shaun Robinson / Calgary Stampede

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A Summer of Success for Calgary Stampede Stock

Under bright blue skies, dozens of Calgary Stampede horses enjoy some rest and relaxation after a night at the rodeo. It’s life on the road. And judging by the recent run of success at rodeos south of the border, it’s a lifestyle that definitely agrees with them.

Pictured: Calgary Stampede horses in St. Paul, Oregon

Pictured: Calgary Stampede horses in St. Paul, Oregon

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OH Ranch Welcomes Hundreds During Alberta Open Farm Days

Fascinating. Beautiful. Incredible.

Those are just a few of the words visitors used to describe their experience at the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch for Alberta Open Farm Days! The Calgary Stampede is proud to have welcomed more than 500 people on Sunday, August 23. This is the first time, since the historic property was gifted to the Calgary Stampede Foundation in 2012, that the OH Ranch has opened its gates to the public.


Pictured: guests listening to OH Ranch manager, Ken Pigeon

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