Ryan Bickert … Stampede 2012′s Top Youth Speaker!

I must admit that when I found out about the Calgary Stampede’s Youth Speech and Debate Committee I was quite excited. As a high school student I participated in speech and debate. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything – I gained skills that I’ve taken with me and met so many great people along the way. And I still remember the rush of adrenaline you get when you step on the stage so many years later.

This year’s winner of the Calgary Stampede Youth Speech Competition was Ryan Bickert, a high school student from Webber Academy. I had the chance to watch him deliver his speech at the Calgary Stampede – very impressive! I had the chance to ask him a few questions after his big win:

How did you get involved in Speech? 

“Since I was young I have always been interested in the Dramatic Arts, and therefore began searching for new ways to explore my interest. Speech was first presented to me, by my mother, as a way to hone my acting skills and otherwise extend my abilities. Some of my friends, and my older brother were involved and seemed to enjoy it so I went to one of the meetings. I think it was a mixture of competitive spirit, driven both by fellow competitors and my brother, and placing second in my first tournament that started my true interest in Speech.”

What was the best thing about being involved in the Calgary Stampede Youth Speech and Debate Tournament?

“Besides getting an ego boost, I found the people I was able to be around was the best part of the entire tournament. Being given the opportunity to speak to the Stampede community and possibly pass on some nationalistic pride is humbling enough, not to mention getting advice from the head of the ADSA, and meeting our Mayor. I think having won or not those are the moments that I would take away from the tournament.”

Calgary’s beloved mayor, Naheed Nenshi, presented Ryan with his prize for coming in first place! A very exciting moment.

What was your speech topic and how did you choose it? 

The tournament was themed meaning our speeches had to “promote and reflect the agricultural and/or historic legacy of Alberta or Western Canada”. That being said it still left a large window of speaking material to choose, from which I chose to focus on agriculture. In my speech I went over the aspects of our daily lives that agriculture effects then spoke about agricultural impacts historically. How I chose to speak about this is even still a mystery to me; however I can say that I chose something that I knew about. I knew agriculture was important both today and in the past and that was the basis of my speech.”

Can you share your favourite line from your speech? 

“My favorite line from my speech is the ending sentence, ‘As an Albertan you should be as proud as I am to say agriculture is how we define ourselves.’  I like this line because I believe it left the audience with something to think about, and may have helped encourage some provincial pride.”

What was the best part about the Centennial Stampede celebration this year? 

“I certainly enjoyed being able to look out my bedroom window and see fireworks in the distance. However I think the best part of any year at the Stampede are the rides, especially the large yellow and white crane which I’m glad to have ridden for the second time on Sunday.”

What’s your favourite treat on the Stampede midway? 

“My favorite snack on the midway has to be deep fried Oreos.”

Mmm … good choice!

Congrats again Ryan! You were a first class speaker and a first class Calgary Stampede participant.


Interview with Aaron Miller, Youth Speech and Debate Committee Chair

The Stampede is more than just the grounds, the rodeo and the cowboys. Volunteers are out and about in the downtown core, in shopping malls serving up breakfasts, and in our schools! The Youth Speech and Debate Committee engage area students and gets them involved in the Stampede year round.

I had a chance to catch up with the Chair of this committee, Aaron Miller, during this year’s Stampede. Here’s what he had to say!

What Stampede Committee do you participate in and what keeps you involved?

I am Chair of Youth Speech & Debate. Well, I have always loved the Stampede and how it preserves and promotes our Western heritage.

Second, I love formal debate and speech. So naturally, this committee was a nice fit!

What did you enjoy most this Stampede?

So much to choose from! But I have to say, the Chucks. I just love the Chucks. I tried to make it out every night!

Tell us your favorite Stampede volunteering story?

That is easy: when the mother of one of our debaters came up to me and said, “thank you for all your committee does. Public speaking has been such a catalyst for my daughter in terms of confidence, and coming out of her shell. Thank you for providing her with this opportunity.”

Favorite midway treat?

Still, nothing beats good ol beef on a bun. I am old school!!!

What’s your most memorable Stampede experience?

It is the same experience every year: Simply walking around downtown, or the grounds, in my boots and hat, being friendly to everybody, lending a hand, and respecting the land. That is what being Albertan is all about!

Thanks Aaron! Thanks for engaging youth in speech and debate … and the Calgary Stampede!



WOW! As fast as it came, STAMPEDE 2012 has now galloped out of town and is the newest chapter of Stampede history.

To my host hotel Carriage House Inn, the companies and committees who were kind enough to invite me to attend their events, the many media oppportunities afforded to me and to everyone I met along the way, THANK YOU for making those ten days the most incredible time in my life.

HAPPY 100th and see you all down the pow wow trail!

Your Indian Princess



Amelia Crownshoe with Canadian music star and Calgarian Paul Brandt

‘Til Next Time!

Jovita: It has been diagnosed, I have Stampede Lag. It is like jet lag, only from not sleeping at the Stampede and then being thrown back into the real world Monday morning. But would I trade one minute of the Stampede I experienced for sleep? Never. The ten days of early mornings, late nights, and hot afternoons Arielle and I got to participate in can never be replaced. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the 100 year anniversary of the Stampede, let alone as an Ultimate Intern!

I could gush all day about all the events we got to go to, but you have already read those blog posts. Instead I will express my immense gratitude at being able to work with the Stampede and meet the staff and volunteers. Incredible patrons aside, the Stampede staff and volunteers put on the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth with hard work, pride, and hospitality and have blown everyone away with the centennial celebration. Happy Birthday Calgary Stampede, and thanks for the memories.


Arielle: I’m craving mini donuts, crazy rides, spectacular shows and two-stepping. But most of all I’m craving the people. Now that I am back to the real world, I have been asked many times what my favorite was at the Stampede. Easy – the people I’ve met.

I have fallen in love with Calgary and the Calgary Stampede all over again because of the dedication, energy and graciousness I have witnessed from volunteers, employees, and fellow Stampeders. Being present during all 10 days of the Calgary Stampede, let alone being backstage or front of the line for most of it, has been one of the most amazing things anyone can experience. I feel (oh so ridiculously) blessed to have been a part of this and am grateful to those who joined me in my adventures online. I hope you had a blast. Until next year. Xo.


Read our adventures here!

TransAlta Light Up the City – 2nd Winning Family


If there’s one thing you can’t predict during Stampede week, it’s the weather. It can be too hot, too cold, too rainy…sometimes even snow has been known to fall! This past Saturday, July 14 there were some pretty dark, ominous rain clouds looming threatening a storied torrential downpour- however, the rain managed to stay light and finish just in time for a spectacular TransAlta Light up the City show.

This lucky turn of events allowed our second Light up the City family winners (the McClelland’s) an opportunity to spark the beginning of the show, erupting five international-scale firework displays across our city.

How did we choose the McClelland’s from a sea of entries? Well, read on to hear their story:

“Our family would love to press the plunger to set off the fireworks. This is my 15th Stampede as a volunteer and am very blessed to serve as the Chair of the Promotion committee. However, there’s a strong Stampede connection to my family as well. As my submission to “My Stampede” states, I met my wife during Stampede in 1998 and my oldest daughter was born on Parade Day, July 5, 2002- right at the time the fireworks were going off at around 11:30 PM. We remind her at every birthday that “the whole city threw a parade and set off fireworks to celebrate her birth”! We celebrated her 10th birthday the day before the Centennial Stampede started and would love to have our family set off the plunger in the context above!”

Thanks to all who participated not only in the Light up the City contest with us, but also our daily twitter contest in which we had the awesome opportunity to give away some great prizes to our followers! (Think Rodeo tickets, GMC Rangeland Derby/Evening show tickets, Johnny Reid concert tickets and a few special Centennial Stampede prize packs). Our online presence side of NGC loved seeing the entries come thru the twitter feed every day, garnering photos and submissions for our #CSTimeCapsule project.

We hope you all thoroughly enjoyed your Centennial Stampede- it was one we shall not soon forget…and can’t wait to celebrate with you all for Stampede#101!



My #Stampede100


Howdy everyone!

How on earth do you sum up a 100th Birthday party in one blog post?! As a born and raised Calgarian, I’ve attended quite a lot of Stampede’s in my time. Every one has a special place in my heart; but somehow, this one was different. From munching on Caravan breakfasts, mini doughnuts and Food Trucks to riding the swings, taking in the Rodeo and GMC Rangeland Derby, concerts galore, TAILS, Western Oasis, the incredible TransAlta Light Up the City fireworks and more…this was by far the BEST Stampede I’ve experienced to date. Did you feel the same way Calgary?

Somehow I felt as though the energy resonating thru our ‘Stampede City’ was more vibrant- everywhere you looked there were friends and families young and old, all celebrating together. Numerous times I overheard passers by simply stating “I love Stampede”!

I tried my best to cover every corner on park, since there was a lot of great new programming added to this year’s 10-day show. My cowboy boots carried me all over the place- not once did I stop and wish I was wearing anything different. The opportunity to catch up with several fellow volunteers & Stampede representatives for an interview and highlight them on the blog was so cool- our organization is chalk FULL of people I’d love to chat with in order to get to know them better, and give them a little extra recognition for all their hard work.


Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of this year was seeing one of our Next Generation committee (NGC) projects really come full circle and gain such momentum and success- the Centennial Time Capsule. We were able to engage the city thru various means of social media to garner submissions and suggestions, as well as help spread the word of our efforts. We were even on the big stage in front of the Grandstand not once, but twice! On Thursday, July 12 I had the wonderful opportunity to walk on the stage in front of 20, 000 fans along with fellow NGC’ers Josh, Sarah and Jenn as we accepted a gorgeous limited edition silver and gold belt buckle from the Chuckwagon committee as their gift to the Time Capsule. This was truly a surreal moment that I know I will never forget! Two days later, we sealed the Time Capsule (Will, Sarah, Jenn & Troy on stage) alongside president Mike Casey, Indian Princess Amelia Crowshoe, and Paul Brandt- what an incredible night that was!

It’s hard to choose what was my highlight moment, since every minute of every day I spent on park was filled with happiness and excitement. I look forward to this time all year long, and every year it seems like 10 days is both an eternity and a split second. I loved that in just one day alone I was able to catch up with old friends and share with them my passion for the Stampede by showing them all over the park, that I could get a ride in a golfcart with my stepdad and watch him in action behind the scenes with his fellow Chuckwagon committee members in the barns (I am so proud that we are both volunteers, its a really great bond to have in our family), and then watch my favourite Grandstand show yet with my mom- front and centre, singing along to Paul Brandt. This was just one day of many memorable ones I can look back on and smile for years and years to come. (oh yes…and how could I forget I actually got to meet the one and only Paul Brandt in person?! Incredible. Surreal.)


So thank you to all my fellow volunteers, staff…and citizens of Calgary(that includes all temporary Calgarians who travel from afar!) for making this 100th Birthday celebration one to remember- we truly are greatest together.

Now on to planning for #Stampede101…

Final Sunday – GMC Rangeland Derby

People have been inquiring about the results of the Dash for Cash on Sunday evening’s GMC Rangeland Derby.

Troy Dorchester was the winner with a time of 1:18.40

Second place went to Doug Irvine, who had a time of 1:18.41

Third place went to Gary Gorst at 1:19.68

Fourth place to Jason Glass, whose running time of 1:18.29 was subject to a two second penalty for wagon interference at the start of the race. The penalty was imposed by the chuckwagon judges.

The Calgary Stampede supports the decision of the race judges.

*Update on July 19, 2012

We’ve had a lot of comments about the result of heat 9.

To recap, Jason Glass (Barrel #2) did cross the finish line ahead of Troy Dorchester (Barrel #4), but was not the winner of the race due to a two second interference penalty.

We’re going to provide three things that will help explain the ruling. This is out of the ordinary, but we acknowledge the level of interest from fans.

  • Firstly, some responses to the main questions fans are asking.
  • Secondly, some still photos from the track video feed that the judges would have referred to in their ruling (this is a different feed from the CBC feed). You should also know that earlier this week, I invited Jason Glass to review the track video and he declined.
  • Thirdly, chuckwagon commentator Billy Melville has offered his independent account of the race. It will appear as a comment to keep the length of this post manageable.

The Rangeland Derby has a review system in place unique to the sport of chuckwagon racing.  Unlike many sports (e.g. football, hockey, tennis) where referees make calls during the play, we are fortunate in that our judges have the benefit of studying the various camera angles and slow motion replays before assessing penalties.  They are also given the power to delay making a ruling until they are certain of their decision.  And just like other sports, not everyone will agree with every ruling.  The judges must have the complete authority to render a binding decision.

I trust this will put to rest to the claims of an unfair ruling.

Thanks – Keith

Why weren’t the final heat results (and championship) explained to the fans, sponsors and the drivers?

We agree that the communication surrounding heat 9 results could have been better.  Because we are trying to create anticipation and excitement for the championship presentation that goes live on stage, our normal practice is not to put heat 9 results up on the boards, or make verbal mention of the results. As soon as the winner is announced in front of the live audience, the onstage announcer cannot review penalties and placement of all the wagons in the heat as the production is moving too fast and we are focused on the winner of the Derby. A similar situation happened in 2009 with Chad Harden winning after another driver took a penalty but also crossed the finish line first. That penalty was probably more apparent to those watching, but no explanation was provided to the audience. We will review this process for future with an intent to better communicate to the audience so that they can better understand the race results.

It looked as though Gary Gorst’s wagon was out of lane. Did that force Jason Glass out of lane? Why was Glass penalized?

The Rangeland Derby does not have an out of lane rule.  Being out of lane is permissible, providing that it does not create interference with another wagon. The judges ruled that Gary Gorst’s lane position did not cause Jason Glass to go into lane 1 and determined that there was adequate room for Glass to be safely positioned between the Gorst and Irvine wagons. The judges ruled Glass’ wagon interfered with Irvine’s. You’ll see three still images below from footage used by the judges to render their decision.

Image 1 – as Glass turns into off his bottom barrel, onto track he’s clearly heading into lane 1 with no pressure on his outside. Irvine makes a tight turn into his lane at the bottom of his barrel.

Image 2 shows Irvine and Glass in the same lane. Irvine is where he is supposed to be. Glass is inside of lane marker, with no pressure outside.

And as you look at Image 3 you can see Glass’ right leader on top of the lane 1 marker.

So when the CBC commentator said “Doug Irvine comes a little wide….” referencing  Irvine’s turn on the bottom barrel, he was mistaken. Irvine made a tight turn into the middle of lane 1, his designated lane.  The video replay clearly shows it is Glass’ wagon that is in Irvine’s lane by a full wagon width and the chalk mark in question is in fact the number 1 lane marker. In the end, Irvine did not swing wide and Gorst’s wagon is permitted to be in lane 2 as long as it does not create interference with another wagon, which it did not.

What is the exact procedure for judging?

All judging is done in the video replay room located in the Eye in the Sky.  There are 8 judges (4 wagon and 4 barrel) reviewing each race for penalties and infractions.  Four ‘spotters’ are located around the track, providing information back to the judges. Four cameras provide unique angles and views of the races, not available to the live or at home audience. The judging coordinator leads the eight judges through a thorough review of every race, utilizing a variety of camera angles, slow motion replay and image freezing. The judge’s decision is usually determined by the start of the next race, but may take longer in certain circumstances in order to ensure a proper decision has been made.  The emphasis is upon making the right calls, even if more time is required.


The Friendly Faces of Stampede: Volunteer Profile – Christopher Loach

Well, that’s a wrap.  What an awesome 10 days of celebrating 100 years of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!  We couldn’t do it without the hard work and devotion of all of our incredible volunteers and staff.

The number of people that volunteer for the Calgary Stampede is amazing, and so is the diversity of skills that come with them.

I was lucky enough to ask Christopher Loach, Chair of the Communications Sub-Committee for Downtown Attractions, a few questions about his involvement with the Calgary Stampede.

Christopher’s day job dealing with media as the Communications Director at Theatre Calgary made him an excellent fit for this volunteer position.

1)  What year did you become a Stampede volunteer and why did you decide to get involved?

I was fortunate to join the Downtown Attractions Committee (DTA) as a volunteer in 2007.  During Stampede every year I wandered down to Olympic Plaza when it transformed in Fluor Rope Square and took in the festivities.  When I heard the DTA was looking for people with a media relations background for their communications sub-committee, I jumped at the chance and managed to fill the void.

2)  What are one or two of your favorite Stampede memories?

As a native Calgarian, I have never missed a year at the Stampede.  My earliest memories are of the Stampede grounds at night, being pushed in a stroller, looking at all the lights and hearing all the sounds of the midway.  Later in high-school and then University, I worked as an usher in the Grandstand for 7 summers.  I met so many different people from around the world and made life-long friendships with many of the people I worked with.  I’ll never forget those days.

3)  What Stampede experience or event are you looking forward to the most this year?

Our Communications sub-committee works with Stampede Tourism to host local and international media when they come down to Fluor Rope Square. So many of them are visiting Calgary and the Stampede for the first time, and most of them are amazed that we actually do a hat stomp and get away with it.  It’s such an honour and a thrill to see them be truly amazed at all the work that goes into what we do, and then take those observations back and share them around the world.

4)  What’s your favorite midway food?

I’m a bit of a traditionalist, so I’m sticking with mini-doughnuts.  But any good hot dog is a close runner-up.

5)  What’s your best advice for a fun Stampede?

It’s not always about being in the loudest and most crowded tent for a great party.  Sometimes the real treasures, like watching a stock dog competition or visiting the Western Showcase art exhibit can be a rewarding and relaxing experience. Take time to see all the little things you never thought about visiting…you’ll be surprised at how much western pride and history you can take away from them.


If you’re interested in lending your time and skills to the Stampede team, learn more on how to get involved here.

Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous

For your entertainment, I am sharing a few insights about the notable people I met during my Stampede experience.


Paul Brandt.

He’s down-to-earth. Instead of small talk and taking a quick photo, Paul made a point to ask his fans questions about their personal life. From his questions to his “thank you’s” he did not rush, truly appreciating that we were thrilled to meet him. It was amazing to see how Paul truly cared about who his fans were.

He graduated from Mount Royal – just like me! While talking, we realized we had something in common – our love for Mount Royal. He graduated from Nursing in 1992, and was hoping to eventually become a doctor – but then a record deal showed up!

He is ridiculously good looking.  (okay… maybe I already knew that!)

He loves his wife. When talking to Paul, I told him how I loved seeing his wife perform with him at the Saddle Up event. His eyes lit up at the mention of her. He expressed how he was thankful and excited he was to have her on stage with him. So cute.


Aaron Pritchett.

He parties hard. With singles such as “Hold My Beer” and “Let’s Get Rowdy”, I think this is quite obvious. But you need to see him perform to truly understand his love for partying – including shot-gunning countless beers on stage. Impressive.

He loves his band. I’ve never seen a performer engage and announce his band members as many times as he did. He also did not fail to let the ladies know his buddy on the keyboards was single. (Good to know!)

He is passionate about Canada. Born in British Colombia, his love for his country is obvious. The song he performed most passionately? “Oh Canada”. And he got the whole crowd to sing it with him.

He could be a comedian. My stomach hurt from laughing the next morning. This could be a great back up if his singing career doesn’t work out (yeah right!)


Terry Grant (previously called Man Tracker).

He volunteers. We met Terry when hanging out with the Racetrack Maintenance crew during the Chuckwagon races. He is a part of the Chuckwagon committee, and was busy overseeing the flow of the chuckwagon races. It was warming to hear about his passion for the Chuckwagon committee.

He’s not as scary as he looks. While many think he is mean after seeing him in his television show, Man Tracker, I am sure it’s staged. We saw a different side of Terry. He is a truly nice guy: calm, collective, and eloquent with his words.


Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

He’s not just a mayor, he’s a celebrity. It was hard to get a word in with Nenshi before and after the Century Zipline. Why? He was being bombarded with people who wanted to talk to him or get a photo with them. Calgarians love him.

He has fears. Before jumping on the Zipline, Nenshi shared with us a few fears. Yes, he was scared of the height of the Zipline, but most of all, he was afraid of getting stuck in the middle of it. That would have given us a good story (and laugh), but lucky for Nenshi, it never became an issue. 

Mike Casey. (pictured above)

He’s cool.  Picture this. A 60-something-year-old man who goes by Mike (not Michael nor Mr. Casey), who does not blink when it comes to Ziplining 180 feet over crowds of people. How cool is that?!

He can make friends with anyone. His charm can capture anyone’s attention as he chats with every single person he came across. Days after meeting him, he saw us milking a cow in front of a small crowd and made a point to say “hi!”.

His passion for the Calgary Stampede and Calgary is contagious. Mike beamed when he talked about Calgary, as well as the Calgary Stampede. He was excited about the Stampede’s centennial and everything it was bringing to the city. I left feeling warm and bubbly about Calgary and the Calgary Stampede.


Garth Brooks.

He is in love. (and oh man, is he ever!) I was touched by the love that Brooks and Yearwood had for each other. I love love. I found myself singing (to the tune “I wanna love like Johnny and June”): “I wanna love like Garth and Trisha!”

He is incredibly humble. He was so very grateful for the crowd’s energy and warmth. His positive reactions towards the crowd after each song made me want to cheer louder for him (unfortunately my voice wouldn’t let this happen).

His family is his number one. Garth constantly mentioned his wife and his daughters. He even hinted that he may come out of retirement once his youngest daughter graduates (she is currently 16). I think she should do everyone a favour and graduate early…


Sophie Sumners.

She can make anything classy with her accent. Not many can say “I don’t want anyone to see my naughty bits”, “bloody hell that is terrifying!” or “my! you’re a legend!” and sound as elegant.

She is terrified of heights. We dragged the poor girl to the Zipline, on many midway rides, and to the Flowrider. Was she emotional and horrified? Absolutely. But she smiled the whole way through.

She is always up for an adventure. As I mentioned, we brought her on some extreme rides. She didn’t miss a beat, sparkling whether or not the rides scared her.

She’s real.  Sophie showed me that despite fame, one can be genuine and kind. We had a great connection and were able to talk about things that really matter in life.




Martina is goofy. Lead singer Martina was all smiles when people oohed and awed over her. The positive upbeat about her and her silly comments eased the tension of some nervous fans during the meet and greet.

Dan & Martina are in love. The exchanges of glances, smirks, and a back massage (that we accidentally walked in on) made that connection quite obvious. Too cute.



Scooter Korek.

He’s not just a boss – he is a respected leader. Although an executive at North American Midway Entertainment, Scooter takes the time to say hi to every team member at the Midway. It’s a big team, but he doesn’t fail to generate a big smile from each one he walks by. They love him, treating us like royalty when seeing we were with him. Upon further research, I found out this positive relationship was genuine – he was an instrumental part in the development of the Employee Award Program.

He is gracious. He gave us both his cell number if we wanted to go on rides again – no line, no cover. Days later, we gave him a shout to show Sophie Sumners around the Midway. No problem – he took the time out of his busy day to escort us around.

He started in Calgary. Although he travels with the Midway around North America, his home base is here. He started in the amusement industry 35 years ago with the Calgary Stampede itself!

Canadian UFC Fighters 

They’re terrified of heights. Tough men scared to go down the Zipline? Hilarious.


Adrenaline Addictions & a Flying Paul Brant

Arielle: I don’t like saying no to new adventures. Meaning, I was going to go on the two largest rides at the Stampede: the Slingshot and Skyscraper.


I went on these two rides on the last day. I had a hard time convincing someone to come on with me for the past nine days – including my usually brave teammate, Jovita. The Slingshot was great (in the video I am beaming and cheering, while my friend beside me is hanging on for dear life, eyes squeezed closed). The Skyscraper is a whole ’nother story. It’s the tallest ride on the grounds, spinning you from ground to sky, high above the city at 70kmph.


It’s the waiting that kills you. You have people behind you and in front of you – all joining in on your panic, discussing the scenarios of dying on the ride. I couldn’t help but ask the gentleman working there: “How many people have died on this ride?” He replied, unsure, “Zero in twelve years.” I couldn’t help but think what happened thirteen years ago…


Because I cannot explain the intensity of my fear, here’s a play-by-play of my experience:
   I changed my mind – I want off.
   I can’t get out.
   Oh no, we are goin…,
   Stop the ride!
   Hey, this is fun!
   This is going to be okay!
   That is downtown UPSIDE-DOWN.
   Oh no, we are stopping.
   Please stop swaying.
   I’m gonna die.
   Tell my family I love them.
   Get me off of this.
   I regret this decision.
   They are going to put us backwards.
   No, too fast!
   Slowing down – thank goodness!
   I’m alive!


Yes, I was shaken to the core after this ride, but because I live for this kind of adrenaline, I can assure you I will be on it again next year!


Jovita: Even though I had been dying to see Paul Brandt in the Grandstand show since the first day of Stampede, due to our busy schedule I saw the last possible show on Sunday.


The show was preceded by the Rangeland Derby trophy presentation and a special white hat ceremony for the young international performers participating. The Young Canadians were (as usual) flawless, showing off their impersonating talents; with my favourite part of the show: a Patsy Klein, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain and Taylor Swift tribute.


Paul made a high-flying entrance, but he wasn’t the only one. Hoop dancer, Dallas Arcand, flew in on a golden-lit eagle, landing on the stage with poise and tackling a intricate hoop dance. There was a giant birthday cake and collective Happy Birthday chorus paired with the firework show. Stampede President Mike Casey came on stage after to officially close the Stampede, and I found myself wondering where all ten days had gone!

Behind the scenes of a saddle bronc ride

Its final Sunday – Rodeo’s Richest Afternoon – with over $1 million to be given away. The best rodeo athletes in the world will take home the 2012 Calgary Stampede Championship and $100,000. It’s a one shot, go-for-broke performance.

There is so much that happens behind the scenes during the Calgary Stampede Rodeo.  What the crowd sees is an exciting ride but it takes sometimes a dozen people behind the chutes and in the Infield to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Here’s  an example of exactly what happens behind the scenes during the saddle bronc:

Fathers and sons: the ultimate chuckwagon rivalry

Fathers and sons – it’s an ongoing theme in the chuckwagon racing world. If you view the list of entrants in the GMC Rangeland Derby over the years, you’ll find the same surnames over and over again as generations of fathers and sons make their mark.

Troy Flad learned to race chucks from one of the best – his father Herman, who won at the Stampede in 1980. In the last six or seven races of Herman’s career, Troy recalls that it seemed like almost every event the two ended up racing each other. “I loved competing with my dad. The crowds would go wild,” he remembers.

Winning against his father for the first time, he says, was “huge, because he’s your mentor.” On Herman’s side, Troy speculates, “There were probably two feelings – a bit of excitement and a bit of disappointment. At the end of the day, I suspect the excitement outweighed the disappointment.”

According to Gary Gorst, who raced against his father, Art, and whose son Logan is now a top runner, the father in him trumped the competitor when Logan finally prevailed over him in a race. He says the two of them have different styles, but train together in the spring and always consult with each other.

“He’s beaten me enough that I have to have my game face on so I can beat him,” he chuckles.

Tune in tonight to catch the father and son action between five father/son pairs: Buddy Bensmiller’s last race before retirement in heat 1 and his son Kurt in heat 4; Ray Mitsuing in heat 1 and Devin in heat 3; Brian Laboucane in heat 3 with his son Logan right after in heat 4; Kelly Sutherland in heat 5 and his son Mark in heat 7; and the Gorsts with Gary in heat 9 and Logan in heat 3.

May the best man win!

NGC Twitpic Contest: Day #10

It is day TEN of the Calgary Stampede and that means it is day ten of our Next Generation Committee Stampede contest.

Today you could win a Centennial Prize Pack! This pack includes Calgary Stampede blanket, men’s belt buckle, and a copy of “The first Stampede of Flores LaDue” (the true love story of Florence and Guy Weadick and the beginning of the Calgary Stampede)


Well it’s easy!

Today we are asking for your twitpics of The Fireworks. They can be from any of the ten days including the finale tonight. We will also include your twitpic in the NGC’s Time Capsule.

Include our Twitter handle, @CS_NGC and the hashtag #CSTimeCapsule with your photo and you will be eligible to win.

Winners will be notified Monday morning by direct message (so make sure you’re following us!). From there we will ask for your email address (so make sure you check your messages!).

Good luck cowboys and cowgirls!

For more about the Time Capsule Project check out our website

For more information about the contest check out this blog

What is steer wrestling?

Steer wrestling is another event that we get questions about — questions like what happens, what are the rules etc. Here’s a post and video that hopefully helps explain what the sport is.

Timing, coordination and strength are prerequisites for a steer wrestler. The steer wrestler starts behind a barrier, which is a rope stretched across the front of the starting box that is tripped by the steer crossing the score line (the steer gets a head start). If the steer wrestler does not allow the steer a fair head start, a penalty of ten seconds is added to his time. The steer wrestler’s horse is trained to run by as the steer wrestler reaches for the steer while a “hazer” rides on the other side of the steer to make sure the steer runs in a straight line.

The steer wrestler must grab the steer’s left horn, taking the right horn in the crook of his right elbow and using the momentum of the running steer, the steer is rolled quickly to the ground. There are several penalty rules in place to protect the animal. This event is actually one of the more risky for the competitor - cowboys can face serious injury because of the speed and activity of the sport.

Bug and Strawberry: the best of friends

Ask anyone on Stampede Park and they’ll tell you that the Wild Pony Race at the end of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo is one of their favourite things to watch. Ask the same people who Bug Larouche is and they’ll know. The eight-year-old cowboy is famous.

Bug is too young to compete in any novice events yet but he relishes his role rounding up the ponies after the Wild Pony Race. Bug and his trusty pony Strawberry take to the Infield (Bug riding bareback even) and herd the unruly ponies into the back corrals as the crowd cheers.

It was a chance meeting that brought Bug and Strawberry together.  Five years ago a practice pony showed up at the Larouche farm and Bug sat on top. Within seconds according to his mom, Dana, a connection was made, “What are you going to name him?” she asked, “Strawberry” he proclaimed.  Since then, Bug and Strawberry have been rounding up cattle on the family farm and rounding up ponies at the Stampede since 2011.

Bug isn’t the only one in his family who loves the Rodeo.The Larouches have been at the Calgary Stampede for the past four years. His brothers Tiegen (12) and Jace (15) have both participated in the Wild Pony Race in past years and Tiegen is a contestant in this year’s Steer Riding competition.

Bug will be getting too tall to ride the little pony soon but he has big plans ahead. Bug plans to compete as a novice steer rider with the end goal of steer wrestling back at the Calgary Stampede.