Stampede 2015 memories from the CS President

Well its taken me a couple of weeks to catch up with sleep, work and house stuff but finally have some time to reflect back on what was a great 2015 Calgary Stampede. This was my first Stampede as president & chairman of the board and my schedule was even more hectic than I had guessed it would be but had great experiences. Lots of memories but those that stick out for me are as follows:

1. Getting to ride in the Demo Chuckwagon 101 ride on Friday, July 10. What a thrill and man do those horses love to run. Thanks to Chuckwagon committee for making that happen and driver Barry Hodgson for the ride.

Bill and the Chuckwagon

Chuckwagon ride along with driver Barry Hodgson


2. Stampede weather always on the radar – so to speak. The one-hour hail storm on Saturday, July 4 really was The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth – though not in a good way – but other than that and some rain on Monday and early final Sunday morning, we had some terrific Stampede time weather this year.

Flash hail storm on Saturday, July 4

Flash hail storm on Saturday, July 4


3. Watching the Rodeo finals on Sunday, July, 12 with my daughters. The best cowboys competing against the best stock for big money in front of a packed house on a beautiful sunny afternoon. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Spending time at the Rodeo with my daughters Stephanie and Kelsey.

Spending time at the Rodeo with my daughters Stephanie and Kelsey


4. Taking in the fast-paced and immensely entertaining Evening Show. Congrats to Dave Pierce, The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede and the Grandstand committee volunteers on that production.

The 2015 TransAlta Grandstand Show - Classic Canadian

The 2015 TransAlta Grandstand Show – Classic Canadian

5.  Having a very moving and emotional experience at the final Director’s Tea in the Meeting Tipi in Indian Village before moving to new site next year.  Thanks to the Indian Events committee vice-chair Cindy Provost for leading that session in such an inspirational manner.

Shawl Dancing demonstration at the Indian Village closing ceremony

Shawl Dancing demonstration at the Indian Village closing ceremony


6.  The pride Warren and I feel when we constantly receive compliments from visitors, sponsors and other stakeholders about the friendliness, helpfulness and hospitality of our volunteers and employees both on park and at our downtown and other caravan breakfast locations.

First Nations Parade downtown Calgary

First Nations Parade downtown Calgary


7. Fun. From toddlers barely walking to senior citizens enjoying Western Heritage Day, and everything in between, walking around the park and seeing so many guests enjoying the fabulous entertainment offerings on park and just having fun.

Window on the West

Window on the West in the Western Oasis on Western Heritage Day


Thanks to vice-chairs Dave and Dana and all the other members of the board for their efforts in attending events and supporting the organization throughout Stampede time. But will still be working to get more buy in from the board for White Jeans Wednesday fundraiser. (Check out Dana below – now that might be a little over the top.)

White Jean Wednesday

Vice-chairs Dave Sibbald and Dana Peers posing with me in our white jeans for the White Jeans Wednesday fundraiser supporting the Women of Wagon’s Benevolent Fund.


Hope all employees and volunteers get a well deserved break and some rest over the remainder of the summer. We will all be back at Stampede meetings starting in September and remember only a mere 340 days or so until the 2016 Stampede!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter – @stampede_pres


Showband Goes Big, Loud, and Live in Indianapolis

As part of its 2015 “Fairs and Festivals” tour, the Calgary Stampede Showband is travelling to Indianapolis next week. Hitting the road with western hospitality and catchy music straight from the Saddledome Steps, the Showband will compete in SoundSport and DrumLine Battle competitions, entertain crowds at the Indiana State Fair, and learn by watching world class drum corps in action. Announced this week, the Showband will also be performing its SoundSport set at the Drum Corps International (DCI) quarterfinals on Thursday, August 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium while the audience waits for the judges’ scores. This performance will be broadcast LIVE to theatres across the USA as part of DCI’s 12th annual “Big, Loud & Live” event which will be viewed by over 50,000 DCI fans in 600 theatres.

The Showband entertains crowds twice daily with a 45-minute set at the Saddledome Steps during the Calgary Stampede. Photo credit: Pat Johnston

The Showband entertains crowds twice daily with a 45-minute set at the Saddledome Steps during the Calgary Stampede. Photo credit: Pat Johnston

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Lucky Stampede Lotteries Winners announced!



Prizes for the 2015 Stampede charity lotteries were valued at $1.3 million! Tonight, a lucky group of people became Stampede Champions. Notable prizes up for grabs were a $864,000 dream home, almost a quarter of a million dollars cash, as well as a pickup truck with a boat.


This year's Stampede Champions are Paul Allred (Rotary Dream Home), Mike Burnyeat (Truck & Fifth Wheel), Ken Pierson (Truck & Boat), Mike Moore (Truck & Toys), Kevin Willerton (Corvette Stingray), Lal Perera (GMC Yukon), Andrew Pike (Harley-Davidson), Frances Henrickson (Split’em 50/50 - $242,055 Cash), Marty & Gloria Jurgens (Early Bird Winner - 2015 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe 1LT) and Linda & Paul Thomas (VIP Prize Winner - $10,599)

This year’s Stampede Champions are Paul Allred (Rotary Dream Home), Mike Burnyeat (Truck & Fifth Wheel), Ken Pierson (Truck & Boat), Mike Moore (Truck & Toys), Kevin Willerton (Corvette Stingray), Lal Perera (GMC Yukon), Andrew Pike (Harley-Davidson), Frances Henrickson (Split’em 50/50 – $242,055 Cash), Marty & Gloria Jurgens (Early Bird Winner – 2015 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe 1LT) and Linda & Paul Thomas (VIP Prize Winner – $10,599)

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Western Oasis trees donated to help create Calgary Board of Education outdoor learning areas

The Western Oasis is renowned for its one-of-a-kind art, peaceful ambiance and lush greenery. It’s truly an oasis at the heart of Stampede Park!

Photo Credit: Tye Carson / Calgary Stampede

Photo Credit: Tye Carson / Calgary Stampede

Illuminated by more than 2,000 soft lights, the sound of trickling water and the beautiful scents of more than 1,600 flowers and shrubs, as well as dozens of trees, Western Oasis is a welcome sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Stampede Park.

While it would be wonderful treat to keep Western Oasis as a permanent fixture inside BMO Centre, we are excited for these trees to become part of the Calgary Board of Education’s (CBE) outdoor learning areas. All 68 Western Oasis trees, Brandon Elms, Dropmore Lindens, Sargent’s Poplars and Witchita Blue Junipers, have been donated to the CBE.

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A real Stampede “Feel-good” story: the Stampede Talent Search volunteer experience

On the Stampede Talent Search committee, Stampede time is the culmination of a year’s worth of work. And along with that a full range of emotions and experiences compressed into just ten days.

From the physical demands of running rehearsals, wrangling contestants and producing a state-of-the-art nightly show – to the emotional highs and lows of your favourite contestants moving on – or not – to the next round of the competition, it’s a marathon to get through the ten days. But it’s a marathon at sprint speed.

Shawna and Tristen Chang

Supporting our Junior performer, Tristen Chang, during a Saddledome Steps performance.

Last night was the final show of the competition where we named our 2015 Champion, Christian Hudson. And in a few quick moments after being named Champion, he promptly vowed to donate his $10,000 cash prize to the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre.

Christian demonstrated the true reason behind why we do what we do at Talent Search; we believe that this competition changes lives.

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The Stampede Talent Search named their 35th Champion on Saturday night. Christian Hudson, a 19-year old from Airdrie, AB stood out from the final group of 12 performers with his take on a Nina Simone classic, “Be My Husband” recently updated by Ed Sheeran. Hudson received the President’s Trophy, a custom-one-of-a-kind silver belt buckle, a performer development package, musical instrument and recording prizes, and $10,000 cash.

Christian Hudson

Photo credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo

Upon being presented with his cash prize, Hudson promptly announced that he would be donating it all to the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre. During the week-long competition, Hudson spent a few nights on the banks of the Bow River instead of driving back to Airdrie to save money. He was inspired to donate his winnings after connecting with one person in particular whose story touched Hudson.

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Astonishing TransAlta Grandstand Show stage assembly

Every night after the GMC Rangeland Derby, Mike Sharp, park projects manager, and his Operations team take on the big task of moving the TransAlta Mobile Stage to the centre of the Rodeo Arena for The Grandstand Show.

There are many moving parts to this process; several set pieces have to be brought out and pulled towards the stage, including an incredible flying mechanical bird as well as numerous screens, parts must be connected, and all power and fireworks must be in place.

This tight turnaround is action packed and filled with high energy. Every employee involved must be on their top game, mentally and physically, to make sure the stage is installed correctly, up to all safety standards, and ready for the performance to begin on time.

Awesome job to everyone involved in this process each night; because of you, thousands of fans are able to enjoy the performance only moments after the chuckwagon races finish. Continue reading

How the judges judge

The Dueling chefs are back on the Calgary Co-op Kitchen Theatre stage and the finale takes place Saturday at 6PM in BMO Marketplace Hall A.  Rogelio Herrera, Owner and Corporate Chef Alloy Restaurant and Candela Lounge will be going up against Pierre Lamielle, Illustrator and Chef and participant on Top Chef Canada. You won’t want to miss it!

Judges are a big part of Kitchen Theatre as they determine who are the winners for the Dueling Chefs, Police and Firefighter, and Kids’ Chili Cook-off competitions.  Fabio Centini, of Centini Restaurant & Lounge has been cooking in restaurants since he was 15 years old  and has judged on our stage for many years.  He provides some insight as to what goes into judging and as he explains, “It’s not the easiest job”.


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Kitchen Theatre’s 30 foot long kitchen island

Those of you who have visited Calgary Co-op Kitchen Theater may have been wondering about our wonderful 30 foot long cabinet island where our presenters cook and our dueling chefs compete.


It came to us courtesy of Kim Lund at  Silver Bow Woodcraft who became involved with Kitchen Theatre through Stampede director Jill Cross. Initially it didn’t seem like too big an undertaking until Kim discovered we required a 30 foot long cabinet island – perhaps the longest in Canada!  Working with committee members and Fabio Centini Silver Bow got a good idea of how the kitchen was supposed to function.


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Flashback Friday with the Royal Trio

Join author Jennifer Hamblin at the Calgary Central Library for a historical look at the Calgary Stampede’s most recognizable ambassadors, the Queens and Princesses. Since Patsy Rodgers was crowned the first Stampede Queen in 1946, the program has grown to become one of the most beloved parts of the Calgary Stampede.

Hamblin is the author of Calgary’s Stampede Queens (2014).

Hambling Talk Poster

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