Stampede’s Annual General Meeting has positive outlook for 2017

“I am happy to tell you that the organization is in a solid financial position—yes even after a very rainy Stampede,” Warren Connell, chief executive officer of the Calgary Stampede, shared at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Stampede Park, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Almost 1,000 shareholders were in attendance at the meeting and listened as Connell recapped highlights from 2016 and insight into 2017 and beyond.

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Connell continued by sharing, “Calgary is in the midst of a transformation. Culturally, the city has changed tremendously over the past decade, so to remain relevant the Stampede’s brand values need to continue to align with the values of Calgarians and Albertans. We need to continue to be out in our community listening and reacting to what our community has to say,” he stated as he spoke to the Stampede’s 2016-2018 Strategic Plan.

Connell pointed to how the Stampede tried something new during the 2016 Stampede by providing free admission on the final Sunday, as well as special $5 admission prices at pop-up events earlier in the week. Connell also alluded to similar surprises for Stampede 2017, to be announced to the public in the coming months.

Ending his speech, Connell bid a heartfelt farewell to Stampede president & chairman of the board, Bill Gray, who completed his two-year term at the completion of the AGM. During his time as president, Gray led the Stampede through a time of economic uncertainty and the wettest Stampede’s since 1927, and managed to keep the organization on top and well set up for the future. “Transparency, breaking down the barriers of traditional thinking and working together as a team were and are Bill’s greatest priorities,” said Connell.

Bill Gray and Warren Connell, Stampede 2016

Bill Gray and Warren Connell, Stampede 2016

David Sibbald was welcomed into his new position as president & chairman of the board during the AGM, Dana Peers moved into his new role as first vice-chairman and Steve McDonough joined the elected officers as second-vice chairman.

Sibbald is a fifth-generation rancher and partner of SSS Red Angus, is a current board member of the Canadian Angus Association and started his volunteer career with the Stampede in 1990. Dana Peers is president of Urbano Design and Development Ltd., specializing in large custom residential and commercial projects throughout North America and has been a Stampede volunteer since 1991. Steve McDonough is a lawyer who has served as a policy advisor to the federal government in Ottawa, built and sold an advertising agency, is involved in commercial property development and has built a franchise retail business. Steve has been a volunteer for 38 years.

The board of directors, as voted by the shareholders and consisting of those who are serving their second-year terms, are David Sibbald (president & chairman of the board), Dana Peers (first vice-chair), Steve McDonough (second vice-chair), Bill Gray (past-president), Dale Befus, Elizabeth Burke-Gaffney, Toni Dixon, Ted Haney, Garry Holbrook, Dave Lantz, Mike O’Connor, Stuart O’Connor, Tom O’Leary, Will Osler, Bob Park, Paul Polson, Maggie Schofield, Roc Spence, Bob Taylor, John Third and Kate Thrasher, and appointed members Marcel Coutu, Shane Doig, MLA Brian Malkinson and Councillors Andre Chabot and Joe Magliocca.

To read more about each person, click here.

Cute animals & Amazing demonstrations at this year’s Aggie Days

Do you know what a Romney, Hampshire or a Dorper is?

These are just a few of the different breeds of sheep that will be shown at Aggie Days Saturday, April 8 – Sunday, April 9 in the Agrium Western Event Centre located on Stampede Park. Admission is FREE!

Live sheep, baby lambs, sheep shearing, spinners & weavers and Clock, Stock and Barrel – our exhilarating stock dog competition – will all be there!

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn / Calgary Stampede

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My farewell from the past two great years as stampede president

This is a bittersweet moment for me as this will be my final blog as Stampede president. It’s impossible to express just how much it has meant to me to lead this organization for two years after being a volunteer for 31 years.

When you are a part of something for that long, it becomes a part of you.cs-posters-1986-01

The 1986 Calgary Stampede poster – the year I began volunteering

One of the greatest gifts from being involved with the Stampede is working with the incredible Stampede team— including 2,300 volunteers and 1,200 year-round employees. The partnership between volunteers and employees is unique and invaluable and it is only because of that partnership that the Stampede is truly able to deliver on its promise to the community.

I am proud to be part of the team that conceived and launched our 2016-2018 Strategic Plan. This plan expands on the Stampede’s aspirations to Align with our Community, Connect through our Brand Promise, Support Youth Achievement in our Community, Build our Vision and Build our Team.

Strategic Plan.JPGRead the 2016-2018 Strategic Plan here!

The Stampede Team continues to work day in and day out to bring to our community exceptional experiences, expanded urban and rural programming, sought-after learning experiences and a world-class, year-round gathering place.

Over the past two years, we’ve seen Stampede grow and evolve and certainly we managed to have had a little fun along the way!

One highlight for me has been choosing the parade marshals and the poster artists.

2016 Stampede Poster

The 2016 Stampede Poster

In 2015, native Calgarian and two-time gold medalist bobsledder Kaillie Humphreys led the Parade. Kaillie is an international role model, and in addition to her sports prowess, she’s an ambassador for the I’ve been bullied campaign and Right to Play.

We were fortunate to have renowned artist Oleg Stravrowsky create the 2015 poster artwork, which accurately depicts the thundering and thrilling chuckwagon races.

2015 was a hard act to follow – so I was delighted when Jann Arden and Paul Brandt came on board as our 2016 parade marshals in honour of the Year of Music in Calgary.  Both have done an excellent job representing Calgary and Canada on a national and international stage with their talent and exemplary citizenship.

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Jann Adren and Paul Brandt: 2016 Parade Marshals

Award-winning local artist Michelle Grant created our beautiful 2016 poster, Born to Buck, highlighting our Stampede Ranch, home to 600 head of some of the finest rough stock in the country.

The past two years have not been without challenges:  we’ve faced a struggling economy and a very volatile Mother Nature. But in the face of these challenges, I’ve watched the Stampede team step up with ingenuity, enthusiasm and unflagging optimism. By being flexible and innovative, we managed to turn those challenges into opportunities to learn, evolve and succeed. I am incredibly proud of each and every member of our Team.

I thank everyone for their support on this journey—it’s been my great honor to serve as Stampede president & chairman of the board and I look forward to continued involvement with the Calgary Stampede and to providing my full support to incoming president Dave Sibbald as he very ably takes over the reins of this fantastic organization.

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Warren Connell, Stampede chief executive officer, Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, his daughter Ella-Grace, and me in the Agricultural Discovery Zone during Stampede 2016

The biggest advancement in the agriculture/agri-food industry? Industry leaders share their thoughts

2017 marks Canada’s 150th birthday! To celebrate this occasion the International Agriculture and Agri-food Committee of the Calgary Stampede (IAC) has created the IAC Canada 150 Reflections Project. We have asked industry leaders who offer a wealth of experience and insights across a broad range of industries to share their thoughts and perspectives on what has been the biggest advancement in the agriculture/agri-food industry.

From major restaurant chains to local producers, here are some of those reflections.

David Farran, President – Eau Claire Distillery         

For many years, agriculture has been viewed as a commodity. The national quota and marketing systems disconnected the consumer from the farmer. In recent years, with the demise of the wheat board and the beginnings of brand development such as ‘Alberta beef’ or ‘Alberta Barley’, we can start to differentiate quality, develop a sense of Alberta ‘terroir’ and we can market ourselves as world class producers. This is good for the relationship between the producer and the consumer, where consumers can trust the value chain and farmers can start to see higher prices by developing targeted, niche products. The greatest advance for agriculture in recent years is a new free market – a driver of innovation.

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A HORSE-LOVER’S GUIDE TO BERLIN

As the saying goes, “The dog may be man’s best friend, but the horse wrote history.” This week we were fortunate to be in a city rich in history and took it upon ourselves to find horse-related attractions in Berlin, Germany.

Perhaps the most famous monument in Berlin is the Brandenburg Gate. Atop the gate is a Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses and driven by the goddess Eirene, who is the goddess of peace. While the Gate has played different political roles in German history, it now symbolizes freedom and the desire to unify the city of Berlin. Our Indian Village Princess, Savannah Sparvier, did a traditional dance in front of the gate and we too, wanted to take part. So, we did an impromptu line dance to Nitty Gritty Dirtband’s “Cadillac Ranch” to honour both cultures’ connection with horses. We had so fun line dancing and gathered a big crowd taking photos and cheering us on!

ITB Berlin

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Making history: Calgary Stampede celebrates a rodeo icon for International Women’s Day

Today, Wednesday, March 8, 2017 celebrates International Women’s Day, a day that honours the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the globe. The Calgary Stampede has an illustrious history of showcasing the outstanding talent of women in western performances. At a time when women were refused the right to vote, western performance and rodeo stars such as Bertha Blancett and Flores LaDue were achieving success and fame as part of the first Calgary Stampede. For more about the exploits of these pioneer cowgirls, see last year’s blog post for International Women’s Day here.

Through the years, hundreds of women have performed in the Stampede Rodeo, and adding to this proud tradition is Mary Burger, a high-speed barrel-racing grandma from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. For over 40 years Mary has been participating in barrel racing events, winning a slew of titles and victories on her way to being ranked number one in the world in barrel racing. At 67 years young, Mary dropped jaws and wowed fans as she achieved a clean sweep in the barrel racing competition at the 2016 Calgary Stampede.  Placing first in the competition for a remarkable four consecutive days, Mary would go on to win the event on Championship Sunday adding another trophy to what one can only imagine is an already cluttered mantle.

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Mary Burger and her horse Mo picking up some speed!

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Inside the Royalty’s Equestrian Program with Janelle Phillips

Hi everyone! Queen Meagan here!

Today I am going to give you the inside scoop on our Equestrian Program with the expertise of our very own equestrian committee member, Janelle Phillips! Janelle was part of the 2009 Royal Trio as a Princess. Since then, she has been passionate about Stampede, our horses and our equestrian program. She describes how “Once the Calgary Stampede gets their hooks in you, it’s hard not to be a part of it.” And that I can definitely agree with!

Janelle with an equine friend

Janelle with an equine friend

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Meet the rookies!

Introducing Dustin Gorst and Cody Ridsdale; both chuckwagon drivers will be competing for the very first time in Calgary this Stampede 2017.

Dustin Gorst

For years he has raced the Calgary Stampede track; holding steady until the klaxon blared, then leaping fearlessly onto the back of an already flying, high-powered thoroughbred.

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As an outrider, Dustin Gorst is a veteran competitor at the Stampede. He has also driven the track as the demonstration driver. But for the first time in 2017, Gorst will be among the 36 drivers guiding their thundering teams around the track in pursuit of the championship and a share of more than $1.15 million in prize money. It is a sport that’s in his blood. Continue reading

Calgary Stampede History Moments Presents: Bert Smith in Memoriam

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Noted western artist Bert Smith passed away on February 17, 2017. Smith’s artwork captures the real feel of the western way of life.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Many of Bert Smith’s paintings and sketches illuminate the book Just About Nothing, which was written by Bert Sheppard, the long-time OH Ranch manager and later owner. Sheppard included a passage about Smith:

“Bert was born at Mutrie Saskatchewan on Feb. 24, 1929, and went to school at Philomath. At an early age he became interested in photography, and later took a correspondence course in art from Washington D.C. Bert worked as a commercial artist in Montreal for one and a half years. He then did art work for Ken Coppock who was secretary for the Western Stock Growers Association, and manager of their ranch supplies department. It was there that I met Bert Smith. On New Year’s Day he arrived at the TL (connected) Ranch to spend three days visit, and stayed three years. It was quite apparent that he had exceptional ability as an artist and photographer. To gain additional ranch experience he was at Joe Bew’s [sic] Y Cross Ranch, The Chattaway Bar S Ranch and the Blades [sic] Rocker P [sic]. It was there while helping to move a large herd of cattle to summer range that he suffered an aneurysm, which ended his art career. He retired to Longview where he now resides. He spends a good deal of his time tutoring the small fry in the preliminary stages of art.”[1] Continue reading

The passion behind princessesing

In our family, the passenger seat of my Grandpa’s red Chevy pickup proved to be a beautifully unique classroom for my unscripted education. Somehow every tool that you could ever need was handily tucked in the back of that truck.

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As we drove along slowly checking fences, cows, horses and the growing hay, I have come to value more than just the view. My role as “gate girl” was pretty important to me, and while I used to think that being someone’s right hand man was a real thing, I did my best to always position myself on my Grandpa’s right hand side. Seriously. I wouldn’t let anyone else stand in my spot.

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We grew some pretty wonderful values on our farm, and these lessons have extended far beyond that for me. They are my heritage. Raised surrounded by western values, I have learned that short cuts don’t work, but ingenuity can. Bailer twine is the single most functional item ever made. The electric fence is always on. Take your boots off on the porch before entering the house. And finally, that a good dog is better than some people.

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Big Rides for Big Money in San Antonio

When it is freezing and snowing in Calgary, having a rodeo would not be the first thing that might come to mind, but for the Stampede bucking horses rodeo competition is in full swing. The all-star team of bucking horses made their way down to San Antonio and for the past 20 days they have been hotter than mid-July.

The highlight ride of the event for the Stampede came in the finals, when reigning World Champion Bareback Rider, Tim O’Connell, matched up with veteran stallion Special Delivery for a 91 point score in the final performance.

Special Delivery at the Calgary Stampede

Special Delivery at the Calgary Stampede

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An ode to the pancake: One Calgary Stampede committee and their pancake breakfasts

Tuesday, March 27, 2017 marks this year’s International Pancake Day, a day of celebration where people across the globe flip flapjacks with copious amounts of butter and maple syrup at the ready. As delightful as pancakes are for any meal of any day throughout the year, Calgarians know that nothing says Stampede time more than those magical mornings in July where one can indulge in a multitude of Stampede-themed pancake breakfasts. As a much cherished tradition, companies, families and organizations of all kinds partake in offering up their own special take on the pancake breakfast. Community members have the ability to peruse the breadth of Calgary each morning during the 10 days in search of a fun, free and tasty pancake breakfast! So adored are these breakfasts that the pancake and the Stampede are held together closely in people’s hearts.

Fun times flipping flapjacks at Calgary Stampede 2016

Fun times flipping flapjacks at Calgary Stampede 2016

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Stampede means a lot to this home-grown cowgirl

You might be surprised when I tell you that my favourite part about the Calgary Stampede is not those 10 special days in July. While I certainly love ‘dem little donuts, cheering on the eight-second rides and the occasional visit to Nashville North, there is so much more to the Calgary Stampede organization that influences Calgarians year round. The cowboy spirit has defined our city’s values, influenced how we do business and will inspire generations to come.

What originally attracted me to the Calgary Stampede is what is at the heart of the exhibition: the animals and particularly, the horses. I was first introduced to the Born to Buck breeding program by the most influential cowgirl in my life, my Nan. Growing up, we would often go check on the wild horses as part of our farm chores. Their grace, strength and gentleness never cease to amaze me. Did you know the Stampede has a 600-head herd of horses–some of the finest rough stock in the world? I am honoured to be an advocate for the Stampede livestock and I truly am excited about promoting the Born to Buck breeding program and Calgary Stampede’s commitment to animal care.

bucking stock

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From the Report to the Community: A chance meeting with Belgian farmers

This week, we’ll be sharing some of our favourite stories from the 2016 Report to the Community. You can check them all out in the full online Report here. This story comes from Ag-tivity in the City volunteer Ross Bucsis.

It was a Saturday and raining at the 2016 Stampede, and it was early in my Barn Tour shift for Ag Ambassadors. I met a family (father and son) of Dairy Farmers from Belgium, and they stood out—both were very tall, over 6 feet 3 inches. Having determined they were farmers on a visit, and as is my usual protocol, I invited them to sit down, have a bite to eat and a drink of their choice at the International Room.

They were wet and cold, so acceptance came easy to them.

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As we walked, I asked if this was their first time in Canada. The son replied, “No, this is the second time I have been on Canadian soil.” I asked quickly, “Oh great, when was your first time here?”

He replied, “I have walked among the dead in the Canadian War Cemetery in Belgium where the fallen Canadian soldiers are buried. That was my first time on Canadian soil; you earned it.”

I did not say another word. I couldn’t, as the tears were coming down my face. We got up to the International Room and I shook their hands very firmly. They knew I had been emotional and proud. I told them safe travels and to please return again to the Stampede and Canada.

Check out our 2016 Annual Report to the Community!

We are excited to share the 2016 Report to the Community with you.

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This year, you will hear the 2016 Stampede stories directly from Stampede volunteers and employees.

The three lead videos take you back to our rainy-but-wonderful 2016 Stampede, on the journey of ENMAX Park and into the brand new TransAlta Performing Arts Studios.

Indian Village - ENMAX Park

The 2016 Indian Village in its new location at ENMAX Park

In the stories that follow, the Stampede team takes you behind the scenes to the lesser-seen moments of Stampede. Stories like this, one from Josh Traptow on the Ag Media committee:

This year, I was assigned to help the Heavy Horse Pull. We had a competitor—Rocky Dempsey—from Fort McMurray. When I first talked to him, just before Stampede, he had been evacuated from Fort McMurray. He didn’t know if he was going to be able to compete. He’d been training for months before the fires and, when he fled, he wasn’t able to bring the harnesses he needed for the competition. Ever since he was a kid, he’d dreamed of competing at the Calgary Stampede.

Rocky Dempsey

He decided not to give up. He overcame so much to be able to compete in the Stampede after all he had been through. It was his lifelong dream come true.

Learn about new education and community programs. Meet a member of our award-winning bucking stock. What’s it like to sit down with a 1960s Rodeo Star? Who did the Showband drumline perform with at the Junos? Drop in on a moving encounter with farmers visiting from Belgium. And more.

Showband - at Junos

The Showband at the Junos

The Report is an opportunity to get to know some of the faces behind the Stampede–and get a sense of how much work, passion and care goes into everything we do. We hope you enjoy it!