Stampeding towards Canadian championships

With fall season comes end of season for Canada’s Pro rodeo tours, culminating in the Canadian Finals Rodeo, held in Edmonton November 5 to 9.

After weeks enjoying the pastures of the Stampede Ranch near Hanna (pictured below),  36 top bucking stars will soon climb aboard the Calgary Stampede trucks for the trip north - rough stock horses and bulls who qualified for Canada’s pro rodeo finals through consistently strong performances all season long. buckers3

This combination of Canada’s top bucking horses and top cowboys is sure to add to some great performances to determine Canada’s champion cowboys and Canadian horses and bulls. The Stampede stars are definitely in the running for go-round buckles and possible some bronze.

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In the saddle bronc event, 16 Stampede broncs will show their best at the CFR. This list includes Stampede Warrior (above), who has been astounding both north and south of the border in 2014, including a virtually-perfect 94-point ride with Cody DeMoss at Rodeo Houston to shatter the arena record that made headlines in Canada and abroad. You can see this amazing mare – sired by legendary Stampede bareback horse Grated Coconut – at the Friday night performance and again in the final Sunday round at the CFR.

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Also on the broncs list are mainstay stars like Lynx Mountain (above) and Mad Money, the “delivery brothers” of Urgent Delivery and Timely Delivery, plus a host of rising stars, such as Weary Joke, Warped Logic and Wild Cherry.

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A total of 13 bareback horses qualified for CFR this year. Exceptional stallion Special Delivery won the 2012 Canadian Bareback Horse of the Year and is in the hunt for the CFR Bareback Horse title this year after an exceptional season. He’ll be the one to watch Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.

Bareback mare Twin Cherry is also up for the ride north to Edmonton after a spectacular season, which included boosting Richard Champion to a $1.1 million win at the new All-American Rodeo at Arlington in January – rodeo’s richest-ever single day payout to a cowboy. Watch for this feisty mare on Thursday and Saturday evenings at the CFR.

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Watch for other bareback stars, including Muffled Cries and Nightmare Rocket, both well-known stock highly anticipated by cowboys for great rides and consistently high scores. Up-and-coming stars making their mark include Simply Marvellous (pictured above), Wanaka Rocket and Unfortunate Carma, while mainstay bronc Licorice Baby promises a sweet ride for some novice cowboys.

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Six Stampede bulls are bringing some serious brawn to Rexall Place, including top-billed Pawn Star and Low Life (pictured above). Rodeo fans will be thrilled to welcome back Classic Hit,Man in Black, Gator and Burn it to the Ground, bulls well-recognized in rodeo circles as tough competitors sure to give the bull riders and fighters a run for their money.

 

Donations become a lasting legacy

It all started with a vision and the bricks and mortar. Now, eager participants are bringing it all to life.

Thanks to the generous donations from hundreds of Albertans, the vision of Stampede Park as a year-round gathering place is becoming a reality. A number of these contributions have been made by Calgary Stampede volunteers. Nicole Henson, a proud seven-year Stampede volunteer and chair of the Agriculture Media committee, is passionate about agriculture and youth education. When Henson donated to the capital campaign, she chose to give to the Agriculture Discovery Zone.

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Nicole Henson

The Agrium Western Event Centre – part of the Agriculture Discovery Zone – plays host to an innovative, inquiry-based learning program and a variety of regional, national and international equine championship events. One of the first lucky riders in the new Agrium Centre was Faith Stewart, a 16-year-old member of the Big Hill West Light Horse 4-H Club in Cochrane.

Stewart felt privileged to ride in this new cutting-edge facility. She described the building as “wonderful, so clean and bright” adding, “the larger arena gives the horse and rider the freedom to run full, big patterns.” In fact, this 125×250 ft. arena is referred to by competitors as one of the top 10 facilities of its kind in North America.

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Faith Stewart and her sisters

Besides hosting youth agriculture programs, the Agrium Centre is providing a home to events typically not seen at Stampede Park. Some of these events include the Arabian Horse Association Region 17 Championships and the Royal West Show Jumping Tournament.

Henson is thrilled to see these events and youth programs at the Agrium Centre. She grew up on a family farm and “wants to help keep agriculture alive” for future generations. Henson’s generosity helped contribute to a place where youth like Stewart can showcase and celebrate their western heritage.

If you make a donation to the “We’re Greatest Together” capital campaign you can choose where your money goes. Your donation can be applied to the general capital campaign, or to one of three designated areas – Agriculture Discovery Zone, ENMAX Park and Youth Campus.

The Calgary Stampede’s Mobile Stages are a great addition to any event

Cowboys started serving pancakes out of their chuckwagons in the nineteenth century. Calgarians took up the tradition in 1923 when Jack Morton began serving breakfasts of out of his chuckwagon in the downtown core. The only thing better than a free breakfast is one with live entertainment. That’s why the Calgary Stampede has three mobile stages and a volunteer subcommittee to manage them.

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Community events use the stages in a variety of ways including hosting performances, award shows and bands. The stages are used year-round and travel outside of Calgary, giving a western theme to any event. In fact, this past February, the group took its newest stage to Banff, for the opening ceremonies of the Alberta Winter Games.

This wasn’t the first winter sporting event for the stages. The Winter Olympics used two stages for the cross-Canada torch relay in 1988. Two years later, the Stampede took possession of them. And the Calgary Stampede still has these original stages. In 2007 a clamshell unit with a 32 feet wide performance area was added to the fleet. They have continued to host many more celebrities and entertainers such as George Fox, Jewel, Gord Bamford, Tim Hus and Carolyn Dawn Johnson.

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The Mobile Stage group loves hosting performers but most of all enjoys giving back to the community. The Stampede supplies stages free-of-charge to community events. This allows these events to hang onto funds that would otherwise be used for staging. For example, the Aspen Crossing Music Festival this summer reallocated stage money to the STARS charity. Similarly, other participants, such as 4H and the Lions Club were able to keep funds they raised at the same event.

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As the mobile stages have become known across Alberta, more and more events are requesting them. As a result, and part of succession planning the group has begun replacing the 1988 vintage units. In 2013 the group took delivery of a new 53 foot semi trailer type stage. The Mobile Stage group also provide sound equipment to events needing sound but no stage. One example is the Happy Trails events that the Promotion committee has started. Happy Trails brings western hospitality to seniors who cannot come to Stampede Park.

Make sure to be on the lookout for the Calgary Stampede mobile stages throughout the year. When you see the stages, you’ll find our Mobile Stage subcommittee, a subgroup of the Promotion committee, in action. Don’t forget, the stages also help out the Caravan committee pancake breakfasts during Stampede time. So join the more than 100,000 people to receive a free breakfast and enjoy some western entertainment.

The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede present A Christmas Spectacular!

Tickets go on sale Friday, November 7 for the 2014 Young Canadians “A Christmas Spectacular!”. Bring your loved ones, friends and neighbours to share the Christmas spirit with us this December. The show details are as follows:

When: Sunday, December 7, 2014 – 7:30 pm
Where: Jack Singer Concert Hall
What: A Christmas Spectacular!
Who: The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede
Tickets: Epcor Centre Box Office: https://www.epcorcentre.org/VisitorInformation/BoxOfficeAndCentreMap.aspx

How quickly the years go by. The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede are now celebrating their 47th year. As we near the end of 2014, one of Calgary’s annual traditions will soon be upon us: The Young Canadians Christmas Spectacular at the Jack Singer Concert Hall. Presented by The Rotary Club of Calgary, Enbridge and the Calgary Stampede Foundation, this show rings in the Christmas season with incredible singing and dancing like only The Young Canadians can deliver.

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Classic Christmas music is performed in song and dance by small ensembles, incredible soloists and of course stage-filling, full-force production numbers; the show has something for everyone and for all ages.

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For new and returning Young Canadians alike, there’s something special about this first show of season. It’s a chance to give back to the community, to the Rotary Club of Calgary as they present the show to many local senior citizens, and to the citizens of Calgary that cheer The Young Canadians on in the TransAlta Grandstand Show during Stampede time.

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Years ago when I was a Young Canadian, our Christmas tradition was to perform at the Kinsmens Centre (currently where the Scotabank Saddledome exists), and then later, simply at our own rehearsal studios. Now for several years at the Jack Singer Concert Hall (thanks to the Rotary Club and Enbridge), The Young Canadians can pull out all the stops and have established an annual “must-do” Christmas event.

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For each Young Canadian, it’s also an opportunity to put their training to the test. Our school year begins each September and nothing bonds a new company of Young Canadians quite like mounting such a large production. In this way, the show has been quite a gift to the school as well. For young artists who love the roar of the crowd, Christmas marks roughly the halfway point in the year from Stampede to Stampede. So in December, the Young Canadians hit that Jack Singer Concert Hall stage with more Christmas spirit, music, energy and excitement than they can contain.

Calgary has many excellent Christmas activities and traditions and The Young Canadians are proud of this annual event. I can tell you that already they are fondly reminiscing about last year’s show and speculating with an over-abundance of curiosity as to what material they will perform in 2014. It’s like they’re kids on Christmas already.

And a great gift is coming… The Young Canadians are also thrilled with anticipation of the fast arriving Calgary Stampede Youth Campus. This new facility that will help them not only train and build their artistic skills but help to continue to elevate their performance capabilities benefitting the shows they participate in annually including the TransAlta Grandstand Show and the Christmas Spectacular.

The Young Canadians can’t wait to perform for you this Christmas and hope to see you all on Sunday, December 7.

2015 Stampede Queen Mick Plemel trades her hip waders for royal outfits

Hello there! My name is Mick Plemel and I was recently crowned as the 2015 Stampede Queen! I am very honoured to have the opportunity to represent the Calgary Stampede this year, but let me tell you, immediately after I was crowned, my life began to dramatically change.

You see, I have always been a very low maintenance, outdoorsy girl. Sure, I would get dressed up once in a while, but those times were somewhat few and far between. I went to Olds College and studied Land and Water Resource Management and after I graduated last spring I took a job as a “Field Technical” with the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish for short). I had a wonderful time spending all summer traveling the province doing health assessments on pasture land and grazing leases, but due to the nature of the job (always outside around water) I spent most of the summer in a ball cap and hip waders.

So as you can imagine, after I was crowned and the trio was outfitted by our wonderful sponsors with a new wardrobe, make up, and jewelry, it has been a challenge for me to get used to the new “look”.

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One thing that I have found out is that it doesn’t matter what clothes a person is wearing, or how they have their hair done, or whether or not there is a crown on their cowboy hat; what really matters is who they are on the “inside”. I am very happy to say that all the people I have met on this journey so far (the other Contestants, Trio members, Indian Princess, Royalty Advisors, Committee and Board members, Alumni, judges, fans, sponsors, volunteers and many more) have been kind and honest people, which makes them beautiful on the inside and out!

If you have ever felt like you were “not good enough” to pursue a dream I hope you’ll think back to my short story, and remember that if a hip wader and plaid clad girl can go from that to the Stampede Queen, surely you can make your dreams come true as well.

Enjoy the rest of your day and hopefully we will meet somewhere along the trail!

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3 Great Chances to See the Stampede Showband Perform This Fall

Need your marching band fix? Here are three chances to see the world famous Calgary Stampede Showband perform this fall!

1. Oct. 24 Calgary Stampeders game vs. the Saskatchewan Roughriders

This Friday, the Showband will do what most marching bands do: perform in the half-time show for a local football team. But the Showband is not like most marching bands, so expect some of the Showband’s unique western flair! The Showband is becoming known for doing performances in the community that bring a lot of people together and support a great cause. Friday’s Pink Power game is in support of the Canadian Cancer Society.

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2. Nov. 29 Fort Macleod Santa Claus Parade

The annual Fort Macleod Santa Claus Parade is one of our favourite traditions! Showband members brave the cold and trade their cowboy hats for santa hats to get in the holiday spirit. This parade, which starts at 11am, is definitely worth the drive!

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3. Dec. 3 The Optimist Festive Showcase

Each year, the Optimist Club of Calgary hosts an amazing holiday music concert at the Southern Jubilee Auditorium. Featuring performances by the Showband, the Heebee Jeebees, the Calgary Stampede’s Band of Outriders, the Calgary Stetson Show Band and the Calgary Round-Up Band, the Festive Showcase will put you in the holiday mood. Tickets will go on-sale through Ticketmaster soon!

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We’d love to see your photos at Showband performances! Share them with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging us: @ShowbandCS.

Announcing the BMO Youth Campus Amphitheatre

When you work on Stampede Park, you start to really understand how big it is. We all know how long it takes to walk from the Olympic entry to Indian Village during the July Stampede, but Stampede Park extends well north of the Olympic entrance.

The new developments on Stampede Park, including ENMAX Park and the new Youth Campus, will bring these beautiful and lesser known part of Stampede Park to life.

Last night, the BMO Financial Group announced a $2.5 million gift to the Calgary Stampede Foundation to build the BMO Youth Campus Amphitheatre. This will be an outdoor space along the Elbow River for Calgarian youth to rehearse and perform.

Here’s a first look. And here is more about the new BMO Amphitheatre in the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun.

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The Stampede Park Sample Contest

When you think of Stampede Park, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Likely, you’re thinking the Calgary Stampede. But Stampede Park hosts a lot of awesome events year round and we want YOU to take full advantage of that!

Drum roll please… announcing our latest contest! It’s called the Stampede Park Sample. It’s a prize pack containing tickets to a variety of different events taking place on Park over the next year, and they could be yours! So what exactly is up for grabs? Two tickets each to the following events:

  • Calgary Roughnecks game
  • Calgary Flames game
  • Calgary Hitmen game
  • World Professional Bull Riding Finals
  • The Grape Escape
  • Bryan Adams concert
  • ….and a Stampede 2015 concert to be announced soon!

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Stampeding for the Cure

What do you get when you mix Stampede red and white together? Pink, of course!

The Calgary Stampede was an integral part of setting a festive mood for the 2014 Calgary Run for the Cure. More than 8,000 runners participated in this year’s fundraising event, generating $1.28 million for breast cancer research.

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The Stampede’s volunteer Promotion and Caravan committees, plus the Calgary Stampede Showband,  brought the party, the food and even the welcome home tunes to the Southcentre Mall for the event.

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Arriving a day early on Saturday, the team spent most of the day setting up the Stampede’s travelling trailer stage and sound system that served as centre-stage for the action. The Sunday morning of the Run started at 6 a.m. for the Stampede volunteers, who were up and at’em early enough do sound-checks and get the Hee Bee Fee Bee’s band singing to greet runners and their families as they arrived.

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The Stampede’s trailer unit driver, Paul Mills, sounded the horn to launch the 8,000 runners on their way. As the runners neared the finish line, they were encouraged onwards by the Calgary Stampede Showband in a brilliant show of pageantry, playing upbeat music to put some pep in those final steps.

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Upon arrival at the finish line, the Caravan committee shared water, juice, fruit, bagels and protein bars with returning runners to recharge their batteries as they waited for the final presentations, also hosted on the travelling Stampede stage.

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Thanks to all those proud Stampede volunteers who spread the spirit of western hospitality and strong support for the thousands of runners and their families who are making a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

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Stampede volunteer Rick Smith honoured with Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award

At 26 years old, Rick Smith stumbled across a small job ad in a paper for assistant manager of Heritage Park. After a year in the oil business, Smith thought he would try his hand as a landman, but something about the Heritage Park ad piqued his interest. He applied. The interviewers told him they were looking for someone with a history background, but Smith convinced them that what they needed was someone with a management background—him.

After 33 years with Heritage Park and as many as a community philanthropist and volunteer, Stampede volunteer Rick Smith was honoured with a Mount Royal Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award on October 2, 2014.

Rick studied Business Administration at Mount Royal before going on Eastern Washington State University. Although initially he followed in his family’s footsteps into the oil business, his interest in western history made him follow up on the Heritage Park opportunity. In eight years, Smith would be general manager.

Smith was a perfect fit for the vision-oriented, compassionate work environment. “Rick is a natural connector of people,” said Nancy Smith, friend and former colleague. “He genuinely cares about everyone around him.”

Around the time that Smith began working at Heritage Park, he met Randy Avery, the founder of The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede. Avery had been contracted to put on a show commemorating the founding of the RCMP.

Western Legacy Award for Sustained Contribution Individual on Vimeo

“When you met Randy,” Smith remembers, “You couldn’t help but become enthusiastic. He elevated everybody to another level.” Avery’s show was one of Smith’s first projects at Heritage Park.

That began a long relationship between Heritage Park and the Stampede. Heritage Park would frequently supply vehicles and other historic items for the Grandstand Show.

In 1984, Smith initiated an effort to sponsor a chuckwagon tarp, establishing an even deeper relationship between the two organizations. Soon after, Smith joined the Historical committee as a volunteer.

Past Stampede president Rob Matthews remembered Smith’s centennial fundraising efforts. Smith brought 189 Stampede volunteers and leaders together to purchase a tarp and raised more than $60,000 for charity in the process. They called themselves the 10-day Tarmac Babies.

“Rick is a tremendous fan of chuckwagon racing and he brought everyone together around that passion to do good for the community,” said Matthews. “He’s an amazing guy and the Stampede has been so fortunate to have him as a volunteer and supporter.”

Smith has also been involved with Tourism Calgary, Rising Sun Extended Care Centre, Bar U Ranch National Historic Site and the Longview Music and Arts Festival. His dedication to the community and contagious enthusiasm for all things western heritage won him a Western Legacy Award for Sustained Contribution last year. Smith is also the recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), Alberta’s Tourism Ambassador Award (2005) and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). His true love for the work, it seems, brings people together to do great things.

“The joy of working with both Heritage Park and the Stampede is the people and their love and belief in what they are doing,” said Smith. “Heritage Park and Stampede are both visions of the citizens that emerged from our pioneering western spirit.”

Rick has been married to his wife Erika for 36 years had has two children, Mike (34) and Christine (31).

Introducing the OH Ranch education program

It’s back to school and back to education on the range! The historic OH Ranch, an authentic working cattle ranch, provides an incredible setting for young people to learn about Alberta’s heritage and unique identity.

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Gifted to the Calgary Stampede Foundation in 2012, the OH Ranch fulfills the wish of the late Doc “Daryl” Seaman to preserve the land, and our cultural heritage for generations to come. Thanks to the Calgary Stampede Foundation, the Calgary Stampede is making this dream a reality.

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As an experienced teacher and an experiencing-as-I-go mother of an 11-year-old daughter, I recognize the importance of providing engaging and relevant learning opportunities that ignite students’ natural curiosity and enthusiasm, and that increase their awareness of, and appreciation for, our land and history. What better place to achieve this than on an 8,000-acre authentic working cattle ranch that exemplifies best practices in cattle ranching and animal care, and is situated in the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains? The OH Ranch is, in my opinion, one of the most spectacular “classrooms” around.

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To ensure that our programming supports teachers and students in the delivery and achievement of educational outcomes, I held brainstorming sessions with educators from various local school districts including the Calgary Board of Education, the Calgary Catholic School District and Rocky View Schools. The teachers who participated in these sessions provided some great ideas that have helped me to customize our program to meet their needs. Thank you all!

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In June and September 2014, I held four OH Ranch Grade 5 Education Program introductory sessions. Two grade 5 classes from Rocky View Schools and two grade 5 classes from the Calgary Catholic School District were the first to participate in our OH Ranch Education Program. Teachers and students provided valuable feedback on the program that supports Alberta Education’s Grade 5 Social Studies and Science curriculum outcomes for which the OH Ranch, with its cattle, geography, and historic buildings, is a natural fit.

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As a long-standing supporter of the Calgary Stampede, animal and nature lover, history aficionado, life-long learner, and licensed Alberta teacher, I am very enthusiastic about designing, developing and delivering, a ranch-based educational program for Calgary and area youth that helps promote an appreciation for our land and heritage. The success of this program relies on the support from the Calgary Stampede Foundation, and the assistance of Calgary Stampede employees and volunteers, and subject matter experts who care as much as I do about the well being of this land, and the cattle, horses and multitude of fauna and flora species that call the OH Ranch home.

I look forward to welcoming you to the OH Ranch! Please check out our webpage at www.calgarystampede.com/ohranch. Click on Experience Education to learn all about our program and check out the video below:

You can learn more about the OH Ranch Education Program at the Calgary Herald, CTV and CBC

Trail dust and accolades at fall rodeos

The Calgary Stampede’s roughstock are enjoying the fall colours back at 22,000 acre Stampede Ranch, enjoying well-earned downtime after another successful rodeo road trip along the west coast.

The Stampede’s bucking bulls performed well at an Extreme Bull Riding event in Ellensburg, Washington a few weeks back. When the dust settled on the night, it was Calgary Stampede Bulls – 7, Cowboys – 0. A few days later during the Ellensburg Pro Rodeo short round finals, a couple of Stampede bulls again took centre stage, especially Low Life, the well-respected bull that carried Parker Breding to a second-place finish with a ride that scored at 85 points.

Low Life stepped it up again at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, winning the championship title ride for Texas cowboy Cody Teel with a score of 83 points.

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(Low Life, pictured above, performing during the 2014 Calgary Stampede)

Not to be outdone by their bovine travelling mates, the Stampede’s Born to Buck horses picked up the pace in their performances. Star horse Special Delivery teamed up with reigning Calgary Stampede bareback champion Kaycee Field of Utah to buck out an 87-point ride for the title. The spirited stallion and son of legendary Grated Coconut has enjoyed a stellar year (see past rodeo blog posts) and continues a strong run that’s expected to take him right to the top of the CFR and NFR.

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(Special Delivery, pictured above during the Calgary Stampede 2014)

For the first time, the Calgary Stampede was the prime stock contractor for this year’s Pendleton RoundUp in Oregon. The stock didn’t disappoint, with a number of great performances, including newcomer mare Unfortunate Carma winning the halter for the Best Bareback Horse of the rodeo. Her fellow travel-mates made tracks as well in the saddle bronc event, with Lynx Mountain kicking out an 86-point ride with Tyrell Smith, Stampede Warrior scoring 87 with Cole Ellsere and even Timely Delivery surprising the crowd by besting cowboy Cody DeMoss in a rare buck-off for the top bronc rider. Bull rider Rosco Jarboe got into the money aboard Stampede bull Classic Kit for an 85-point ride in the bull riding event finals.

With a successful tour behind them, the Stampede stock retraced their steps back from the coast to their home on the open ranges near Hanna, Alberta. They’re hanging out there for weeks, enjoying the open pastures and the company of the full 600-head herd.

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Soon, the select stars will gear up for the big performances of the year, at both the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton in mid-November and to Las Vegas sunshine in December for the National Finals Rodeo. At both events, they’ll give the continents best cowboys a ride for their money as the cowboys battle for championship titles, prize money, and the chance to quality for the Calgary Stampede in 2015.

Stay tuned for word on which horses to watch for when the final stock choices are made, later this fall.

Back By Popular Demand: The Showband Dancers!

Last year, the Calgary Stampede Showband was excited to introduce a new section of dancers to its 120 member group of musicians and performers. The dancers were a big hit on the Saddledome Steps and took the Showband’s performances to a new level. This year, the dancers will be back as part of the Showband’s winterguard and summer field show productions in addition to parades and other community performances. According to Showband director Aaron Park, the Showband provides dancers with unique performance and learning opportunities that further advance the Calgary Stampede Foundation’s strong commitment to developing the potential of the young people in our community, providing them with the means to become spirited citizens with strong roots in western heritage and values. The Showband program is designed to develop youth within the performance arts.  Each member of the organization is committed to seeing members achieve musical, performance and personal excellence. 10451169_10152226804596616_2345637993177778402_nDancer MacKenzie Fraser says that joining the Showband was one of the “most exciting yet different experiences” she’d ever had with dance. She tells us that through Showband the dancers have learned many new things ranging from how to count differently to trusting her friends in colour guard, who are forever spinning and tossing flags around them. The dancers also learned to use field markers and dot sheets – a skill MacKenzie says was challenging, but worth it. 10154222_10152134611371616_651942101136312864_n“The Showband is different than any other organization out there because the band is really the true definition of family with such a positive atmosphere where everyone shares the same goals and passion for band. Choosing to be a part of this wonderful organization I got to experience many wonderful opportunities, gained lifetime friendships, and developed a stronger passion for dance than I ever had before.”

MacKenzie Fraser is 17 years old and previously performed as a member of The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts.