Province announces a building block in Stampede Park development

A recent announcement by Premier Alison Redford regarding eleven new schools projects Calgary represents another key building block to the development of Stampede Park Youth Campus.

On February 10, the Calgary Stampede participated in a news conference where Premier Redford announced the construction of 10 news schools and a modernization project which will transform the historic Weston Bakery on Stampede Park into a modern learning facility to house Calgary Arts Academy. The eleven projects are part of a $2.4 billion investment in education infrastructure by the Government of Alberta.

“Last spring, I committed to building 50 schools and modernizing 70 others and that is exactly what we are doing,” Premier Redford said during the news conference. “I’m thrilled to announce the 70th school modernization in Calgary today and so excited that families are also going to benefit from 10 new schools in this city.”


(Above from L to R) Calgary Stampede president Bob Thompson, MLA Yvonne Fritz, Premier Alison Redford, Calgary Arts Academy students Bowen Kaufman and Lauren Yardley, and Stampede CEO Vern Kimball at the announcement of new schools and modernization of the Stampede’s historic Weston Bakery to house The Calgary Arts Academy.

The Weston Bakery building will be repurposed through the collaboration between the Government of Alberta, Calgary Arts Academy and the Calgary Stampede to transform the space into a unique education space as a part of Youth Campus.

This modernization project, along with Youth Campus, provides the opportunity for synergies in education and the arts not only between the Stampede’s youth programs, including the Calgary Stampede Showband and The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts, and Calgary Arts Academy, but also the broader community for the benefit of all youth.

Calgary Arts Academy students will benefit from access to new learning space to be developed within Youth Campus and from existing theatre and performance spaces on the park. The school will be alive from morning to night with youth who are gathering during the day in pursuit of academic excellence through the arts and coming together after school to develop their creative talents. By sharing resources and spaces, Youth Campus will be a magnet for the city’s inspired and talented youth.

“Students deserve schools tailored to meet their educational programming needs, and they deserve to attend classes in their communities, near their homes,” said Ric McIver, Minister of Infrastructure, who also attended the announcement. “That’s why we are building and modernizing schools across Alberta so students have access to the bright, open, state-of-the-art facilities they need to do their best work and fulfill their potential.”

“The Calgary Stampede and Calgary Arts Academy began collaborating a few years ago with the vision to create a unique education space where youth could pursue excellence through and in the performing arts,” says Bob Thompson, president
and chairman of the Board of the Calgary Stampede. “We look forward to working
with the Government of Alberta and Calgary Arts Academy to make Youth Campus home for the school.”


Texas-sized Stampede stars dominate in San Antonio

After 14 nights of exciting rodeo action at the San Antonio Pro Rodeo, only 20 bareback and saddle bronc cowboys and roughstock horses qualified for the final championship round for Saturday, Feb 22. Of those 20 horses, 11 were selected from the Calgary Stampede’s herd, an outstanding feat considering how many stock contractors showcased their best stock during the two-week rodeo.

Of the Stampede stars, none shone so brightly as champion stallion S-83 Special Delivery, who was voted the Bareback Horse of the San Antonio Rodeo, adding to his already impressive list of championships.The son of the most decorated bareback horse of all time, Grated Coconut,  and many-time CFR and NFR qualifier mare Zippy Delivery, Special Delivery has already been named the Canadian Bareback Horse of the Year in 2012 and the Calgary Stampede Bareback Horse of the Year in 2013. His performance in San Antonio continues to build his own legend, outlined in this 2013 feature video.

Steven Peebles (3) copy -Calgary

(Above) Special Delivery delivered a championship-winning 88-point ride for Steven Peebles in the bareback event at San Antonio

Special Delivery paired up with Oregon cowboy Steven Peebles, who arrived at the championship round in first place but needed  a strong ride to secure that. Stampede Delivery more than delivered the goods, offering a challenging powerful ride with his signature switch-up moves. Steven stuck it out, scoring 88 points to secure his championship.

Jacobs Crawley (5) copy-Calgary

(Above) Lynx Mountain carries Jacobs Crawley to an 88-point ride in saddle bronc championship event at San Antonio

Not to overshadowed by her Stampede teammate, L-40 Lynx Mountain scored her own 88-point ride in the saddle bronc championship event in a pairing with Texas cowboy Jacobs Crawley. The powerful mare thrilled the crowd with her signature move, rearing up just as the chutes opened to give Jacobs a run for his money. This 13-year-old mare was named Canadian Saddle Bronc Horse of the Year in 2009 and is a favorite of cowboys because of her consistently powerful performances and docile nature before the chutes open.  See her in action in this 2013 feature video.

Jacobs Crawley (2) copy -Calgary

(Above) Lynx Mountain thrills the crowd with her signature move, rearing up to explode out of the chutes in San Antonio.

Close behind in the Saddle Bronc championship round was Stampede’s newest switch-hitter, S-66 Stampede Warrior, who scored 87 points with Troy Crowser of South Dakota. Half-sister of Special Delivery, this emerging star mare and progeny of Grated Coconut has earned accolades in the bareback event for the past few years, including getting the nod for both the CFR and NFR in 2013. Stampede Warrior switched into the saddle bronc event where her strength, wily moves and competitive nature are proving just as high-scoring, opening up new avenues for this talented switch-hitter to shine. Check out her bareback reputation in this feature video.

Troy Crowser (5) copy-Calgary

(Above) Former bareback  star Stampede Warrior shows her versatility, carrying Troy Crowser to an 87-point saddle bronc ride in San Antonio’s championship round.

After dominating the San Antonio Pro Rodeo’s championship roughstock events,  Calgary Stampede bucking horses are now shifting to new pastures and new challenges in San Angelo, Houston and Dallas over the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more great news soon of Stampede stars stamping their brand on more Texas rodeos.


 (Above) Stampede star roughstock relaxing in the pastures during their two-month-long snowbird stay in Texas for a series of pro rodeos.




Calgary Stampede Showband wins prestigious award

It is a first-ever prestigious win for Canada. Then again, “first-evers” are becoming commonplace for the Calgary Stampede Showband, having recently solidified their position as the most successful-ever marching showband organization in the world.

The Calgary Stampede Showband was presented with the prestigious international Sudler Shield from the John Phillip Sousa Foundation based in Indiana, USA. The annual award recognizes long-term world-calibre excellence in a youth band, and is only awarded to bands that have long-standing history of top performance.

sudler sheild group

“What a fitting cap to a great run of awards over the past couple years, and an incredible validation that our people and performers are among the best in the world,” enthused Mike Jewitt, director of bands for the Calgary Stampede Foundation. “The Sudler Shield recognizes long-standing excellence, which is only growing and strengthening at the Stampede Showband. I am so excited to work for organization that truly believes in youth development and stands by that commitment for the long-haul.”

This award comes on the heels of the Calgary Stampede Showband winning their second straight world championship at the World Association of Marching Show Bands in Japan in 2013– the first-ever back-to-back wins in the competition.  Their recent win sets a record as the most WAMSB championship titles ever awarded to an organization (1996, 2002, 2012, 2013).

Sudler Shield Presentation

(From Left) Aaron Park and Mike Jewitt from the Calgary Stampede Showband, receive the Sudler Shield from Robert Ecklund, head of the World Association of Marching Showbands on February 2, 2014.

Robert Ecklund, head of the World Association of Marching Showbands, made the presentation on Sunday, February 2 at the Rozsa Centre at the University of Calgary during the Showband’s “Community Celebration” concert. He notes the Shield has been awarded to predominantly American showbands along with a handful of Japanese, Thai and Dutch bands, but never to a Canadian band before now.

The Calgary Stampede Showband is composed of 124 musicians and dancers aged 16 to 21 years old, who perform more than 200 times each year in the community and around the world. The Calgary Stampede Foundation supports the program, designed to develop youth excellence and opportunities within the field of performance arts.

Read band members’ reaction in this Calgary Sun article.


Stampede cowboys have lessons for racecar speed demons

What can Calgary Stampede cowboys teach speed demons at NASCAR, speedways and grand prix events? It turns out we know about far more than just horsepower!

The Calgary Stampede was invited to host a panel workshop for about 50 of motorsport world’s top event organizers in Dallas, Texas on Sunday, February 9. The Motorsport Workshop featuring the Stampede was part of the three-day National Sports Forum, an annual convention that attracts executives from the NHL, NFL, NBA, NCAA, NASCAR and other major sports.


(L to R) Pat O’Brien, Jason Coxford, Rod Tate and Robert Wise presented at the Motorsport Workshop at the National Sports Forum in Dallas on February 9, 2014.

The Stampede has attended the forum for the past three years to keep abreast with our peers in major sports event management. This year, forum organizers felt some other sports could learn the ropes from the Stampede in some key areas.

“For a 10-day event, we attract the same level of ticket sales, sponsorship support and VIP experiences that many NHL teams would handle annually,” explains Patrick O’Brien, Stampede sponsorship manager, one of four Stampede panelists at the workshop. “Yet our event extends beyond the grandstand with a huge variety of audience experiences, one of Canada’s largest music festivals and activations throughout the entire community.”

“When you think of it, we have a lot more in common with NASCAR and other annual sporting events than we would have with other rodeos and western events.”

The Stampede attracts more than one million to its site over its 10-day run, and sells 300,000 tickets to its grandstand rodeo and evening shows each year, about 10 per cent of which are VIP packaged experiences. The Calgary Stampede is a “bucket-list” unique experience that attracts global tourists for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of the western sport and huge country-themed community-wide festivities surrounding the main event.

“The workshop participants were very enthralled with the extent of our community involvement,” says Jason Coxford, ticket sales manager. “For a lot of these race cities like Daytona and Indianapolis, their events are tied into the fabric of their city. But the level of volunteerism and whole-city support for the Stampede is something they’re very curious about.”


Coxford also notes many speedways are also striving to create more year-round programming as well, which the Stampede succeeds at with thousands of events hosted annually on Park. He says the balance is to adapt facilities for new programs while remaining aligned with their original brand and purpose.

O’Brien notes Stampede offers great year-round value to sponsors by connecting them with client events that book Stampede facilities year-round. During Stampede, widespread product offerings and variety of programing offers sponsors complex and varied options and great return on investment.

Promotions can run year-round and internationally, partnering with big hitters such as Disney. Yet being a relatively small organization allows the Stampede to be adaptable and nimble enough to capitalize upon an emerging trend, as they did when turning the mid-flood “Hell or High Water” rallying cry into a $2.1 million T-shirt fundraiser for the Red Cross. This earned the Stampede an international award for best social media campaign, beating out 4,700 parks and attractions from 97 countries.

View an interview about the workshop on Alberta Prime Time.


Stampede steals the show at Toronto corporate culture gala

At a gala in downtown Toronto earlier this month, 40 of Canada’s best-known companies were honoured for having Canada’s Most-Admired Corporate Cultures. But it was the Calgary Stampede that stole the show, by our reputation alone.

The Stampede received the prestigious Waterstone Award for Canada’s Top 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures in the Public Sector category, one of four categories. From the moment the Stampede’s single representative arrived at the gala in her cowboy hat, Nicole Schlaak from People Services was inundated by people who sought her out to share their Stampede stories and congratulate us on our unique culture and impact.

Stampede Corp culture image

But nothing prepared Nicole for the reception we received when it was time to parade up to the stage carrying the Stampede’s sign.

“As soon as the Stampede name was read out, the whole crowd started cheering loudly, whooping, and yahooing. There were companies from western cultures who were all waving their cowboy hats in the air,” Nicole says.

“It was so humbling and surprising. The entire crowd responded so much more enthusiastically and loudly for the Stampede than for any other company. These folks were from right across Canada, but they all knew about the Stampede and were celebrating our culture.”

The essence of the Stampede spirit rang through loud and clear as Nicole stepped to the stage to accept the trophy. The song “Hell or High Water” filled the ballroom, representing the groundswell of spirit that originated from the Stampede’s southern Alberta community and translated into a T-shirt campaign that resulted in the $2.1 million to Canada’s Red Cross.

Following Stampede custom, Nicole presented a white cowboy hat to the presenters from Waterstone as well as the gala’s MC, TSN personality Cabbie Richards. He promptly donned the white hat and refused to remove it all night, despite receiving a variety of other hats from other companies.

The Stampede love-fest continued later, as the Stampede was singled out for one of three entertaining skits for guests. Cabbie pretended he was applying for a job at the Stampede. Asked if he could party, shovel manure, and hang out with animals, the Stampede turns him down for a job, but it is later suggested he would make the perfect mayor for the City of Toronto.

Susan Garnett, vice-president of People Services, was thrilled to hear of the award and the overwhelming reception the Stampede received from fellow award-winners.

“While the Calgary Stampede is receiving this award, it truly belongs to our entire community,” Susan says. “We are an inspired group of employees working in tandem with 2,500 volunteers, supported by our partners and sponsors on an event that is brought to life by our guests from southern Alberta and beyond. This award as a most-admired corporate culture verifies what we already know – we are greatest together.”

The Stampede also tips its hat to its partners at Travel Alberta and neighbours at SAIT who also made the public sector list of Canada’s most-admired corporate cultures.

Winning Hearts at Teachers’ Convention

For Calgary’s kids, last week meant Valentine’s Day—with its sugary treats and paper hearts—and the promise of an extra-long long weekend. For teachers with the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD), however, last week meant two days of attending intensive workshops and seminars, catching up with old colleagues and friends, and getting a head start on next year’s planning.

Because Stampede School is part of the Campus Calgary/Open Minds model—which is coordinated through a partnership between the CBE, the CCSD, and various community sites—we had the opportunity to take part in the Calgary City Teachers’ Convention. Not only were the Campus Calgary/Open Minds sites present in the Exhibition Hall all day Thursday and Friday, but we also hosted an extremely well attended workshop on the ins and outs of crafting a successful application to attend a Campus Calgary/Open Minds site during the 2014-15 school year.


Following on the heels of an unprecedented turnout at the Campus Calgary/Open Minds information session held at TELUS Spark! Science Centre on January 30, Thursday’s proposal writing workshop—hosted at the City Hall School classroom in Calgary’s Municipal Building—boasted an over-capacity attendance of more than 50 eager and inspired teachers.

The application for Stampede School and its sibling sites is comprised of a letter of intent and a proposal which must make clear the applicant’s guiding idea or question, and provide a comprehensive plan to integrate that underlying inquiry into the rest of the school year. With the invaluable guidance of program coordinators Trish Savill, Jennifer Gray, and Ita Kistorma, and the assistance of site coordinators from all 10 Campus Calgary/Open Minds schools, the group of mainly elementary teachers worked through an example proposal centering on the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Afterwards, many teachers stayed behind with their site-specific questions before heading back to the TELUS Convention Centre to continue with their professional development.

Judging by the turnout of amazing educators at this year’s information session and proposal workshop, 2014-15 will be a banner year for all Campus Calgary/Open Minds sites—Stampede School included. Applications for next year are due on April 8, 2014; any interested teachers are welcome to contact Amanda Hansen at or 403-261-0490 for more information.

For the Love of Horses

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

-Sir Winston Churchill

Myself, Queen Danica and Princess Stephanie are a rare breed; the ones who would rather clean stalls than clean our own rooms, the ones who strive to be cowgirls rather than cover girls and the ones would rather have the noble steed than the handsome prince. Yes we’re those girls who love horses. How can one become so obsessed, so focused on a 1000+ pound animal who smells pretty ripe at times, eats all day and night and then simply poops it all out?


There is no simple one word answer for this question and if you were to ask any equestrian why they love horses I guarantee you would receive many different reasons. After asking my Stampede Sisters this question, I have complied a list of our top 12 reasons why we love horses:

1. They have a grounding effect on their riders

2. They don’t react to surface presentation but rather to who their rider is at their core

3. They teach us life lessons like the importance of patience, tact, loyalty and teamwork

4. They help us develop effective means of communication whilst allowing us to learn the consequences of miscommunication

5. They help us to be more responsbile (especially in a fiscal sense!)

6. They love unconditionally; all is forgiven if cookies are involved

7. They teach us perserverance; if you fall- get up, dust off and try again

8. They teach us to be honest with our emotions; fear is contagious so choose your company wisely

9. They become parts of our family; better than siblings because they don’t talk back!

10. They have an uncanny ability to know when to cheer us up and successfully do so

11. They make a bad day better and a great day even better

12. They teach us at the end of the day that food is a universal offering of friendship


Those are just a few reasons as to why the horse obsessed become well obsessed. Churchill had it right; horses truly have a profound effect on those who interact with them. As cliched and sappy as these reasons may sound, they are cliches for a reason because they are the truth and are widely experienced by equestrians. As we form new bonds with our Stampede Horses Hawk, Snoopy and Kansas in preparation for the busy few months ahead, all three of us couldn’t be more excited. We all agree that the icing on the cake of this role has to be the interaction with the thing we love; horses.


Until next time, Happy Trails!

Princess Shannon

Seeking Your Best Buds Horse Tales

There’s a reason Budweiser’s Puppy Love ad was the runaway hit of the unofficial advertisement show-down that is the Superbowl. The puppy’s determination to be with his Clydesdale horse friend and his horse buddies rescuing him from being adopted and taken away makes me giggle while tearing up, each and every time I watch it. Budweiser, an official sponsor of the Calgary Stampede, hit the ball out of the park on this one, our Stampede community and fellow horse-lovers agree.

Here at the Stampede, we think we could all use more Best Buds love stories, so we’re asking  folks to share their Best Buds Horse Tales with us. We’re looking for anyone with a story to tell about a unique horse you love, and the unexpected friend it loves. It may be a dog, a goat, a cow or even a duck. We’re hoping to hear more stories that make the heart swell with wonder over the sensitive and social nature of these wonderful animals.

For example, Troy Flad’s chuckwagon race horse Nipper just isn’t himself without his little buddy, Oops, the miniature horse in tow. So Troy ensures Oops and Nipper are together whenever he travels, keeping both of these best buds happy.


If you know of a great story, share it with us at a new page within our My.Calgarystampede website, a site created in the centennial year as a repository for sharing great stories within the community. A Best Buds page has been added, and is waiting for your Best Buds Horse Tales.

Submissions can be emailed to .

Check out the submission guidelines at  or read the stories being submitted at

Looking forward to sharing more Best Buds Horse Love through-out 2014 and beyond.


Alberta Government supports Calgary Arts Academy and Calgary Stampede vision to nourish young minds


The Calgary Stampede and the Calgary Arts Academy began collaborating a few years ago with the vision to create a unique educational space where youth would be able to pursue excellence in performing arts.

Through a unique partnership between the Alberta government, the Calgary Arts Academy and the Calgary Stampede and its Calgary Youth Campus, we will see the historic Weston Bakery at Stampede Park be transformed into a modern learning facility to house The Calgary Arts Academy. Arts Academy students will benefit from access to new learning space and from existing campus theatre and performance space in the park. Calgary Stampede Showband, The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts, Stampede School, Calgary Arts Academy and arts based community groups will now be able to share resources and learnings as well as spaces in Youth Campus.

By creating together, the youth campus will be a vortex that is inspired and alive.  From morning to night, youth will gather in pursuit of academic excellence in the arts – the raw development of creative talent.

Find out more about Youth Campus.


Happy (kind-of-belated) New Year!!

Well, after a nice long break for the holidays, we were back at it with a bunch of fun events to kick off 2014.  Even though we’re well into February now, Happy Belated New Year from your 2014 trio!

2014 Stampede Poster; I guess it isn’t just the Chinese Zodiac celebrating the horse this year!

2014 Stampede Poster; I guess it isn’t just the Chinese Zodiac celebrating the horse this year!

Though I’m over a month behind for our traditional New Year’s here in Canada, the Chinese New Year began on January 31 with celebrations continuing for 15 days after. I thought this was worth mentioning because there’s a little bit of Stampede spirit involved this year: it’s the year of the horse!

A simple google search brings up numerous explanations for what the year of the horse means.  One of my favourites was that this year is a time for unexpected adventure, and an excellent year for travel.  Additionally, the Horse year is considered a fortunate year that brings good luck and good things.  Considering that the remainder of my reign as Stampede Queen will be occurring during this time, I can’t think of a better Chinese Zodiac sign to have this year!

Obviously I am a big fan of the western connection too. All three of us Royalty are counting down the days to Stampede; it just can’t come fast enough.

In an upcoming post, Princess Shannon will be introducing you to our own royal horses Hawk, Kansas, and Snoopy, who will be with us throughout our year.



Princess Shannon and Harry the Horse; you could definitely say his year is off to a great start too.


Though we’re eagerly awaiting Stampede, it was great to get back into numerous events after the break.  It had been over a month since we last serenaded seniors at our last Happy Trails event, but a month wasn’t long enough to lose our terrific vocal skills (if you missed my last post about my lack of singing ability, you can find it here). We also had the opportunity to show off some newly acquired, or recently practised, dancing skills as well.  The Promotions Committee that we join with at Happy Trails gave us a lesson on two stepping and line dancing.  Finally, an actual skill we can show off at these events!


Princesses Shannon, Stephanie, and I with Harry the Horse and members of the Promotions Committee.  A big thanks to Janine of Janine's Custom Creations for our beautiful new shirts!

Princesses Shannon, Stephanie, and I with Harry the Horse and members of the Promotions Committee. A big thanks to Janine of Janine’s Custom Creations for our beautiful new shirts!


By the end of the night we were all having so much fun it was difficult to tell whether the seniors or ourselves enjoyed ourselves more! Harry the Horse was the star of the show, and had many of the residents in fits of laughter as he got up to his usual mischief.

Steph, Shannon, and I with 102 year old Grace at Canyon Meadows Retirement Residence. Grace was born the same year as the inaugural Calgary Exhibition and Stampede event.

Steph, Shannon, and I with 102 year old Grace at Canyon Meadows Retirement Residence. Grace was born the same year as the inaugural Calgary Exhibition and Stampede event.

One of the highlights of the night was meeting Grace, a resident at the home.   While we enjoy visiting with all of the residents on these nights, Grace had a special connection to Stampede which made her stand out: she’s 102 years old, the same age as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!  Her secret? Just to stay happy.


Though it technically occurred on February 1, I’m going to group in the Calgary Flames Western Night with my January events highlights.  The night began with thousands of Calgary Stampede white hats being distributed to fans coming into the dome; what better way to show off our city’s western spirit? As we stood preparing for the national anthems to begin, we were surprised (and ecstatic!) to see that it wasn’t the normal singer for the Flames; it was Paul Brandt!! But the excitement didn’t end there: after the first period, we got to meet him as well.  While we had a little bit of time for introductions and pictures before Paul had to rush off to his next event,  I wasn’t able to ask for singing lessons for the royal trio; maybe next time.

Photo-op with Paul Brandt!

Photo-op with Paul Brandt!

Other highlights of the night included seeing ourselves on the jumbotron, white hats gleaming, as we passed out prizes to the winners of different contests, and watching the 2014 Calgary Stampede Teaser.  It was just one more thing to get us more excited for July 4!  Unfortunately we weren’t able to watch much of the game as we were rushed from area to area, but that last overtime goal by Mikael Backlund was a terrific ending to Western Night.


As the only 90’s baby of the trio I wasn't around for Calgary’s Stanley Cup win, but here’s a shot of Steph reminiscing about that great time in her childhood (she’s so old I'm sure she can remember it like it was yesterday)

As the only 90’s baby of the trio I wasn’t around for Calgary’s Stanley Cup win, but here’s a shot of Steph reminiscing about that great time in her childhood (she’s so old I’m sure she can remember it like it was yesterday).


Calgary Stampede Showband honoured with the Sudler Shield

The CBC Eye Opener greeted me this morning with the news that the Calgary Stampede Showband has been recognized with the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Shield. They are the first Canadian ensemble to be honoured with this prestigious award.

When Mike Jewitt, the Stampede director of bands, told me about the award, I asked him what the Stampede Showband is doing that makes them stand out from the crowd. He told me: “The cohesion between auditory, visual, program materials, use of props and lights.”


If you (like me) would like to see the Showband in full effect, check out one of their Winter Performances.

Mike Jewitt, director of bands says, “It is truly a huge honour to be recognized in an international audience of this caliber.”

According the website, the Sudler Shield’s purpose is:

1. To establish and support international standards of excellence in musical performance, marching execution, choreography and show design for high school, youth or international marching bands.

2. To identify, recognize, and honor outstanding high school, youth and international  marching bands who are at a world class level of excellence.

Congratulations to the Calgary Stampede Showband!

(You can read more at the Calgary Herald, the Calgary Sun and CTV.)