Stampede Fashion with a Royal Twist, and a Message for Alberta Flood Victims

A few months ago, my Stampede sisters, Jessica, Amber and I were fortunate enough to be a part of a fun and exciting fashion photo shoot that allowed us to step out of our own royal outfits and into some new western duds, courtesy of the Stampede Store. Although none of us had a modelling background, or even a clue as to what to do at a photo shoot, we had quite the experience pretending like we knew what we were doing!! Haha! The Stampede Store asked us to help them model their merchandise for the new re-vamp of their website as well as for an article in Avenue Magazine. Of course my Stampede sisters and I jumped at the opportunity to help as we knew it would be quite an experience!

The Stampede Store staff outfitted us in some great ensembles with merchandise right from their store! From new boots and clothes, to fancy jewelry and handbags, we had lots to work with during our photo shoot, and we sure felt dressed for the part of representing a fashionable western cowgirl! The Stampede Store set up the photo shoot in Langdon, where we were able to take photos in the sunshine in front of the town’s western store fronts. Not only was it neat seeing the process of the different angles and shots needed for the Stampede Store’s website and Avenue Magazine article, we had a blast hanging out with each other and trying to make our poses seem as natural as possible….which was quite the task, let me tell you! It was a long day of shooting (most likely due to our lack of expertise in the modelling field….hahaha) but it was a memory we will never forget!

The Stampede Store just recently released the changes they made to their website-which did include a few pictures of my Stampede sisters and me! The most famous picture being the one of our boots, which has made its way into numerous articles and programs around the city advertising the Stampede Store! Here is the link to the Stampede Store’s website:

Be sure to give the website a browse as the Calgary Stampede is only a few days away and the Stampede Store has all you need to get properly outfitted for many days of adventures at The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!  I would also like to take the time to thank the Stampede Store for this exciting opportunity and experience they provided us with, and to just let them know if they need some volunteers to help them with another photo shoot in the future I know my Stampede sisters and I would love to lend a hand again.

At this time the city of Calgary has experienced an very unfortunate event and as a result of severe flooding, our city and Stampede Park are in a state of disarray, though the recovery effort from everyone in the community has been absolutely astounding. My heart goes out to all of those affected by this natural disaster and my prayers are with those affected in the city of Calgary and surrounding areas. However, I have lived in Calgary all my life, and if I know the city like I think I do, I know that Calgary is full of resiliency and will bounce back stronger than before in no time! Stampede Park as well as numerous communities in the city and surrounding area have received help from multiple individuals and organizations alike and the re-building process has demonstrated the true colours of Calgarians and Albertans. I am so proud to call myself a Calgarian and equally as proud to be representing the Calgary Stampede in such a pinnacle moment where the power of community has shone through so passionately.

The 2013 Calgary Stampede will be a great event for numerous reasons this summer and my Stampede Sisters and I have never been so excited for this upcoming adventure! For me, this Stampede will ultimately be a symbol of an incredible year I have had as a Stampede Princess, but it will also be a symbol of the great pride, compassion and teamwork this city represents when the community is needed to come together for a common purpose. Again, I am so proud to be a part of this great city and I hope to see everyone down at the Calgary Stampede starting July 5th!!
Keep your eyes on our Facebook page, Twitter account and our blogs for more information on the cool adventures and busy schedule we have been keeping up with. Have a great week and make sure to check the Calgary Stampede website to plan your 2013 Stampede experience!!

-Princess Danielle

PS- Your George Strait song for the week is: “Write this Down”- A great classic that will get you in the mood for some two-stepping.


New rodeo chutes offer added safety features

It may be the 101st year for the Calgary Stampede, but it is the first year for the newly installed rodeo chutes that take centre stage at the Infield. Built to last, these chutes have already survived floodwaters and will be up and running for Stampede.

Incorporating the latest technology and features, the new steel system for rodeo pens and chutes is specially-designed to anticipate and head off any potential snags or opportunities for risk to both riders and livestock. The new system was suggested to the Stampede by independent livestock handling specialist Jennifer Woods.

The new gates feature higher bars with less spacing between them, which minimizes the chance of a rearing bull or horse catching its hooves between the bars. In addition, the new safety spring-loaded latches are much easier to open if a bull or horse leans into the gate. Rubber safety pads absorb an excited animal’s kick. New grooved cement flooring packed down with infill give bulls and horses secure footing in the chutes. The steel panels all match from the animals’ pens, into the chutes, the arena and back again, which means the animal will not be spooked by seeing anything new or unexpected. Jennifer tells us the entire system is designed to keep the animal calm and feeling secure.

The new system replaces 30-year-old steel that remained very safe and functional, and experts say it was already extremely rare to see any problems. Even so, updating the new chutes aligns with the Stampede’s goal of doing everything possible to eliminate any foreseeable risks to animal and human health.

The transformation of Stampede Park

This time last week, the Elbow River had crested. We were glued to the news, seeing pictures and video as flood waters raged through Southern Alberta.

On this beautiful Saturday morning, the whole city seems to be bustling with recovery. Downtown power has been restored. Volunteers are gathering all over to help  in Sunnyside, China Town, Erlton and other communities that were devastated by the floods. And against all odds, Stampede Park is starting to look like…well, Stampede. DSCF7994

The BMO Centre is transforming into Western Oasis brought you by the Western Showcase committee and Statoil. Every year, the Western Showcase committee puts together an incredible art show, displaying all manner of creative talent including knitting, crocheting, needlework, quilting, paper crafts, ceramics, rugs and weaving, wood working, dolls and toys, paintings and drawings–even sugar art and cake decorating!


You can come check all of this out in the BMO Centre throughout the 10-day Stampede. Oh and you can also grab a glass of wine in the entirely mosquito-free, air conditioned indoor forest. Doesn’t that sound dreamy? DSCF7999

You want to get your hands on some of this fine art? Get tickets to the Western Art Auction on Thursday, July 11.

It’s all less than a week away. We can’t wait to see you on Stampede Park!


Lessons in resiliency from an 84-year-old historic site

Security guard Virginia Cullen is busy this week keeping things safe at the Calgary Stampede, as she has for the past 33 years.

On the day the floodwater hit Calgary, Virginia was at her other job, inside an 84-year-old elevator in the city core. Virginia operates one of two original hand-operated elevators at historic Calgary Public Building. The main floor reception adjoins the reception hall for Jack Singer Concert Hall, opposite  Olympic Plaza.


Friday morning, Virginia arrived at work to operate the elevator at 6 a.m. as usual, not aware the flooding would extend to the downtown core. Within a short time, she was ordered to evacuate and secure the building. By the time she had finished checking the building and locking up and needed to report to City Hall, her path back across McLeod trail was blocked by water that inched up with every moment to cover the street and avenue.

8 ave flooding

Virginia made it back to City Hall using the Plus 15 system and was there with other security guards when it was evacuated. The very next morning, she reported back to her security post at the Calgary Public Building to keep the building secure.

“We were fully expecting the basement and sub-basement to be totally flooded. That’s what we were told was likely. What we found amazed us. Not a drop. Totally dry,” Virginia describes.


“Imagine – all these brand new buildings nearby had flooded basements, while this wonderful old gem of a building, built in 1929, didn’t get a drop,” she marvels. “What a relief, that these historic original elevators were not damaged in any way. Just waiting to power it up and get it going again.”

Virginia continues to work her security shifts at the Calgary Stampede, eager to also return to her post keeping the heritage elevators rolling as they have the past 84 years.


Hell or high water!

hell or high water


On Saturday, June 22, as the flood waters peaked and much of southern Alberta, including Stampede Park, was under water, someone out in the community created an image with the Stampede logo that said Hell or High Water.

Those four words captured the spirit we’ve seen all over town this past week– the generosity, grit and resilience of this community will not be washed away.

Stampede embraced the image and the saying. President Bob Thompson declared, “We will be hosting The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, come hell or high water,” on Monday, June 24 at 10 a.m., and the Hell or High Water t-shirts went on sale at 2 p.m. that same day. In 24 hours, 10,000 shirts were sold.

As of 4 p.m. on Thursday night, more than 55,000 Hell or High Water t-shirts had been sold with all of the net proceeds going to the Canadian Red Cross Alberta Flood Relief fund. We’ve been selling on average 2,000 shirts an hour! And in less than a week, we have bought every black t-shirt in Western Canada (literally!) to fill the orders as they come in from around the world.*

The success of the t-shirts is a testament to people’s ability to come together in the face of adversity. As Bob Thompson said, “Last year, the theme of our centennial was ‘we are greatest together.’ A year later, this motto could not be more true.”

Thank you everyone out there for adding your voice to this inspiring rally cry. We truly are greatest together.

*Thank you for your patience as we rush to fill the orders. We are now tracking down shirts from across the country to keep up with demand.

Flood relief troops get a hot breakfast from the Caravan committee

On June 23 the Caravan committee found out that 420 troops from CFB Garrison (Edmonton) were in Canmore to help with flood relief efforts. They were stationed at the Willow Creek campgrounds. The suddenness of the floods meant there was not a lot of time to settle in.

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So the Caravan committee packed up, drove out and did what they do best: serve a hot pancake breakfast.


“It was nice to be able to lift the spirits of the people working so hard behind the scenes,” said Brad Traquair, Chair of the Caravan committee. “There was that good sense of people coming together in the face of adversity.”

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Did you hear the city asked for 1,000 volunteers and got 2,500? We’re hearing stories like this all over the place. Calgary- we love you!

My experiences working at a Reception Centre during the first 24 hours

Receiving a briefing from CEMA at the Village Square Leisure Centre Reception Centre

Receiving a briefing from CEMA at the Village Square Leisure Centre Reception Centre

Last Thursday evening, after hearing about all the craziness happening with the river, I did my best to secure equipment at my basement office downtown, moving things to higher ground within the building and helping others to do so as well.

Being a transit user, I wanted to get out of the downtown core as quickly as I could because I didn’t want to get stranded.

I got home at around 8:30 p.m. and was looking forward to bunkering down and waiting out the storm, not knowing what to expect from it at that point.

At about 10 p.m. just as I was getting ready for bed, I received an email from Stampede Volunteer Services asking for 120 volunteers to help work at the various Reception Centres around town in eight hour shifts for the next 72 hours. The first shift was slated to be from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Not having a car and because some of the locations were remote from where I was located, I replied by saying that I’d take any shifts that were available starting the next day. I figured I’d have enough time to plan my route to wherever I would be sent, and an opportunity to rest up for what was looking to be a long day of volunteering.

Then 20 minutes later, I received an email from my committee chair with an urgent request for volunteers at the Reception Centre located at Centre Street Church, which was in the same quadrant as myself (though just barely).

Now fully appreciating the urgent nature of the emergency, I threw on whatever clothes I could find, hopped on my bike and peddled my way there. I had never been to the Centre Street Church before, and so after a couple of wrong turns, I arrived at around 11:45 p.m.

Bonnie trains us in processing evacuees at the Centre Street Church Reception Centre

Bonnie trains us in processing evacuees at the Centre Street Church Reception Centre

I was quickly introduced to Bonnie, who was responsible for training new volunteers on behalf of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA). Our job was to process evacuees who were checking into the Centre.

The purpose was two-fold. First, register them so that if loved ones were searching for them later on, the city and the Red Cross would know where they were and could tell them. Second was to find accommodations for those who were displaced and had nowhere else to go.

The view at 2 a.m. during Night One at the Centre Street Reception Centre

The view at 2 a.m. during Night One at the Centre Street Reception Centre

As the night went on, I learned many things. Many of the city workers who were manning the Reception Centre had already been pulling 8-12 hour shifts there, so the Stampede volunteers were welcome relief. The City folks who arrived early to prepare the venue would be able to go home, take a shower and get some rest before they had to come back and do it all again.

I also learned that our city and our government take care of its citizens. Many people had left their homes with little notice and only with what they could carry. Accomodations were found for anyone who needed somewhere to stay for the duration of the evacuation. They were fed and given vouchers to ensure that they wouldn’t go hungry while the city was under a State of Emergency.

We helped Calgarians of all sorts that night. Those who were well off and those who were not, we didn’t turn away a single soul. We even helped a family of six who were visiting from Quebec and were scheduled to stay at a hotel in an evacuation zone. They had no family here and had nowhere else to go, but we found them a place to stay and ensured that they were taken care of.

The view at 5 a.m. during Night One at the Centre Street Reception Centre

The view at 5 a.m. during Night One at the Centre Street Reception Centre

My shift was supposed to end at 6 a.m. but we were allowed to leave an hour early as we had managed to process everyone who came in that night.

When I arrived home, I found that I couldn’t sleep so I emailed Stampede Volunteer Services asking if any other shifts were available. I ended up assigned at the Village Square Leisure Centre Reception Centre for 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. that same day. I made myself lunch and peddled my way there to do it all over again.

When I emailed again the next day asking for any other shifts, I was told that they were all full, which isn’t surprising considering this is Calgary. So I’ve been spending the last few days wandering around the Inglewood and Mission areas helping people clean out their homes and rebuild. I figure it’s the least I can do since my home is completely safe.

As I await the call to help out on Park to deliver Stampede 101, I can’t help but feel proud that I live in the city that I do.

It was working the graveyard shift that first night and speaking with a wide variety of people there where I gained a great appreciation for the city I live in and the citizens who live in it.

We take care of our own, we take care of the people who visit our great city, and Western Hospitality isn’t just a buzzword or exclusive to those in the Stampede family.

No, Western Hospitality is at the core and fibre of our beings as Calgarians.

Flood recovery on Stampede Park

Hello everyone,

We hope this note finds you well and on your way to recovery. Everyone at Stampede is thinking about those who have been affected by the floods.

We wanted to show you what things have looked like around Stampede Park since last Thursday. On Thursday night, employees were up late at the offices moving computers, files and everything they could to high ground. brand room

By midnight, the Glenmore dam had crested, Stampede Park was evacuated and water began to rise at twice the rate per hour and soon, water covered a good deal of the Park.



As soon as it was safe to be back on Park, the Stampede Park and Facilities team was on the ground starting the recovery effort.

Water is being pumped.

DSC_0169Dirt is being hauled.


Stampede Park is literally filled with people working around the clock to bring you The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.


It’s incredible to see how far the Park has come in just a few days. Even more incredible to see the community come together all over southern Alberta. Take care everyone – we will see you next week!

P.S. You can get your Hell or High Water t-shirts here. All net proceeds after costs of the t-shirt will go the Canadian Red Cross Alberta flood fund.


Getting creative with office space at the Calgary Stampede

Well, as Bob and Vern said this morning, everyone at Stampede is working around the clock to bring you The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth come hell or high water. We hope Stampede 101 will be  a chance for us all to pause and celebrate our amazing community.

With many of our administration buildings still compromised, Stampede employees are popping up around town. The Blackfoot Hotel graciously offered up a conference room for our Agriculture and Programming teams.



When there’s not a desk in sight, you have get creative.


Energy is high- and everyone is optimistic. We’re all feeling buoyed by the random acts of kindness and generosity we’ve seen all over town. There’s a lot to do–but with a cowboy hat and extra cup of coffee, anything is possible.


Share your stories of community compassion

Hello to everyone,

We send our thoughts to everyone who has been affected by the flood.

Everyone at the Calgary Stampede is overwhlemed and humbled by the outpouring of support and offers to help. Please stay tuned to our website where we’ll continue to post the most updated information.

We know that many of you are eager to share your stories of what you’re seeing out there in the community, and the Stampede is eager to hear them. Please send your stories, photographs and videos to We hope to share these stories with you in the future.

It is amazing to see people come together through all of this–we feel so lucky to be part of this incredible community. Take care- and we’ll see you on July 5!

Our Heroes and Our Heritage

The nomination deadline for 2013 Western Legacy Awards is coming up. These Calgary Stampede awards recognize community leaders in our city and the surrounding area in three categories. While checking out details at , I noted past recipients including three from the Centennial edition of the Western Legacy Awards and discovered some really cool stories about these heroes and our heritage….

First is the story of Alex Decoteau. Alex was born on the Red Pheasant Cree Reserve in Saskatchewan and moved to Edmonton to live with his sister and her husband in the early twentieth century. Alex’s brother-in-law was an RCMP officer and after a few years Alex joined the Edmonton Police Force. Alex was one of the first aboriginal officers in the Edmonton Police Force and he was eventually promoted to the first aboriginal Police Sargent. Aside from his career in law enforcement, Alex enjoyed running. He ran almost every race held in Edmonton between 1909 and 1916, finishing a large majority in first place. When Alex Decoteau represented Canada in the 1912 Olympics, he placed eighth due to injury. Decoteau enlisted when the First World War broke out. He was a crucial member in many campaigns before he was killed by a sniper during Passchendaele on October 30, 1917 – 12 days before his thirtieth birthday.

From a short life of athleticism and heroics we come to a very different kind of hero, Dr. Mary (Percy) Jackson. Born into a middleclass English family in 1905, Mary Percy graduated with degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Birmingham. She worked in a hospital and care facilities until 1929 when she responded to an advertisement for female doctors needed in Western Canada. She planned to stay only a year, then move back to England but it never happened. Dr. Percy was the doctor for the Battle River area, where Manning is now. When she arrived there, she had about 500 people under her care. Due to large immigration movements, the population in the area under Dr. Percy’s care almost quadrupled before the end of 1931. When Dr. Percy arrived, she was given a small cabin which was to be her home and practice. A few months later, the locals provided her with a horse. That was how she reached many of her patients, on a horse, in frontier conditions. Probably more than once she traveled in the dead of night, in the middle of an Alberta winter snowstorm. One case, a rancher named Frank Jackson, arrived to her via dog team in 1930. He was badly injured and had a septic hand. Dr. Percy treated him and Frank proceeded to spend the next few months finding excuses to see her. They married in 1931 and settled on his farm in Keg River, even farther north than her original assignment. Despite losing the little salary that the government had paid her upon her marriage, Dr. Jackson continued to treat people until she officially retired from practice in 1974. During her career she delivered children, cured countless types of disease and injury, she even pulled teeth. After Mary retired, she and Frank traveled until his death. She made lots of friends in far off places and kept in touch with them until her death in 2005. This frontier doctor/surgeon/dentist/veterinarian/midwife was an amazing and crucial part of Alberta’s beginnings.

Finally, it is my pleasure to introduce “Mr Zoo”. Tom Banes was the Calgary Zoo Keeper between 1929 and 1964.


Though he was never trained as a Zoo Keeper his dedication is an impressive testament to Alberta’s reverence for all animals. During the great depression in the 1930’s, Tom would ride his bike all over town and collect food scraps like banana peels to feed to his charges. After he retired, Tom joined the ‘lecture’ circuit. He was invited to schools all over to teach about animals to grade school students. Ever the showman, the photos you see above are of Baines presenting to students and the things that came out of his bag of tricks.



Calgary Gets Ready for Stampede 101!

Can you feel it? Something’s buzzing in the streets of Calgary … Stampede is just WEEKS away!

I was spending some time on Twitter this morning, and it’s plain to see that Stampede has entered our collective mindset. We’re all realizing that it’s just on the horizon – that first day you notice a set of Stampede flags flying above an intersection? We know what’s coming and planning mode kicks into high gear!

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin

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OH Ranch update: calf processing

Hello everyone- and welcome back to the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch!

Now that calving has wrapped up, we’ve moved the cows over to Spring Coulee pasture for grass. Last week we processed the black calves and later this week, weather pending, we’ll process the red calves.

Calf processing takes a crew—and we’ve got a great team of 15 knowledgeable locals working with us including ropers, vaccinators, taggers and one brander. Together it took us a couple of hours to process 101 calves.


Here’s what the day looked like:

By 9 a.m. we were on horseback herding the black cattle to the processing pen where we sorted the cows from their calves.


Once sorted, the calves are ‘heeled’ (roped by their heels). They’re on the ground for about 40 seconds total and in that time we vaccinate, brand, castrate and tag them.


After we process the calves and do a final head count, we turn the calves back out with the mother cows and watch to make sure they pair up.



It’s a ranching tradition that the host ranch serve refreshments and a meal after calf processing. My wife Deb cooked ribs, roast potatoes, salads and desserts.

Other news? Well, it’s time to let calves grow up.

The bulls arrived last week and they will be turned out with the cows on July 15.

Of course the work here never ends—there’s ongoing maintenance and the constant monitoring of the cattle’s health. It’s kind of like eating an elephant. You have to take it one bite at a time.

For now, we’re looking forward to some sunshine after this much needed rain.


Q & A with the SkyHawks

Q: Calgary Stampede: Who are the SkyHawks?

A: SkyHawks: The SkyHawks are to parachutes what the Snowbirds are to planes: a military parachute demonstration team. In other words, we’re a very highly trained group of parachuters who know how to put on a spectacular show. The SkyHawks have performed for more than 75 million spectators over the past 41 years.

We call what we do Canopy Relative Work, but you might call it parachute acrobatics, (the technical term is actually aerobatics.)


All team members are from various occupations of the Army, Navy or Air Force. We’re based in Trenton, Ontario at the Canadian Forces Land Advanced Warfare Centre where we train alongside soldiers who defend Canada on various domestic and overseas missions. The formations and stunts we do require an incredible level of skill and precision and we put in countless hours of training. All in all, our team has completed more than 5,000 jumps.

We love performing for and meeting Canadians. We’re so proud to be ambassadors of our country—and we wear our pride on our parachutes!

Q: CS: How many people make up the SkyHawks? What are their roles?

A: SH: Our team is made of 19 people. Captain Victor Mover is our Team Commander and Warrant Officer Darrell Bishop is Team Second in Command. Between the two of them, they’ve made over 1,500 jumps! We have seven official Demonstrators (including a camera man). But there’s much more to our team than just the Demonstrators: we have two people who manage the rigging, someone in charge of managing the drop zone and we couldn’t make the magic happen without our awesome public relations and administrative team.


Q: CS: What can we expect at your shows?

A: SH: We’re known best for the close proximity formations we build in the sky. Picture three parachuters stacked, flying side-by-side, one upside-down. Or a parachute spiraling earth-ward followed by plumes of coloured smoke. And, of course, our signature Canada flag parachutes.


Q: CS: Where have you performed?

A: SH: Across North America, Brazil, Belgium, Japan, France, Holland and Australia.

Don’t miss the SkyHawks during the 2013 10-day Calgary Stampede! You can catch them at:

  • Rodeo afternoon performances on July 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12 and 13
  • Kids’ Day Breakfast performance Wednesday, July 10

The SkyHawks can also be seen at various other events throughout the 10 days. Follow @CalgaryStampede and @theSkyHawks for more performance times and updates!

Stampede Community Round-Up hits the trail to Westside!

On the heels of a triumphant Community Round-Up at Genesis Centre in the city’s northeast last week-end, the Stampede is bringing the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth to the Westside Recreation Centre this Saturday, June 15th.

What IS the Community Round-Up, you ask? Good question!

The Band of Outriders entertains the throngs at Community Round-Up!

Think brass bands, Stampede Royalty, and great local entertainment. Think about a free pancake breakfast for the first 3,000 visitors, and representatives from a dozen different Stampede volunteer committees, showing you what it is they do – everything from roping and riding to tweeting! Think about the biggest block party you can imagine – and then put a Stetson on it. That’s the Community Round-Up, and it will be rolling in to Westside – 2000 69th Street SW – from 9 am until High Noon this Saturday, come rain or shine!

Bolo TiesThe Next Generation Committee is accepting entries for a draw, running a photo booth (you can dress the kids up in our cowboy duds, if they don’t have their own!), helping the little buckaroos put together their own bolo ties, and running a contest to find the Fastest Tweeter in the West – so make sure you activate your mobile data package!

We’ll see you at Westside – and then in 23 days, at Stampede101!