Stampede Talent Search celebrates 35th anniversary with exciting program updates

This year is the 35th Anniversary of the Stampede Talent Search and the event has some exciting changes in store. The Talent Search was originally created to provide free, Stampede Park entertainment and showcase the talented youth in our community. As interest in the competition grew, a volunteer committee was created to promote and produce the show. Today, along with year-round activities for young performers, the Stampede Talent Search is a well-established youth program of the Calgary Stampede. “Our committee mandate is to discover, develop, encourage and showcase young talented performers between ages 6 and 21,” explains committee chair, Andrew Bunka. To continue furthering the program, 2015 brings some exciting changes to the Stampede Talent Search and their yearlong development opportunities.

TS1 A kick-off performance brings anticipation for the Stampede Talent Search

One major change to the 2015 Stampede event program is a free audition training workshop. The workshop will be taught by industry professionals and is open to all performers – singers, dancers, actors, musicians, and group and variety acts. Participants will be grouped by talent in order to receive relevant and specific skill development, and a keynote speaker will provide specific tips and tools for a successful audition for the Stampede Talent Search itself. Although the competition is for youth aged 14 to 21, junior performers aged 6 to 13, are welcome to attend the workshop. The younger attendees will receive age-appropriate training in a unique session.

A second exciting change, made possible by our sponsors, is that the Grand Prize has been increased to $10,000. Along with the cash prize, the significance of receiving the Grand Prize provides a customized development package to further grow the champion’s skills and elevate them to help achieve their performance goals.

TS3 A look at the 2014 Stampede Talent Search’s stage

The Stampede Talent Search will continue hosting events throughout the year, which are designed to provide young performers a place to practice their craft and hone their skills. Youth also learn great performance skills at these events which prepares them for the auditions. Each spring there are Canada-wide auditions held to identify the top 60 performers under 21. These top 60 compete during the ten days of Stampede.

“Part of our strategic plan is to invest in our community,” says director Mike O’Connor who also serves as board liaison with the Stampede Talent Search committee. “The Stampede Talent Search program is an exciting opportunity for us to give back to youth in our community.”

Throughout its 35 year history, the Stampede Talent Search has been the first to shine the spotlight on many up-and-coming performers that have gone on to have successful careers in the entertainment industry. Most notably, Paul Brandt was the 1992 Champion. Other exceptional Champions include Trevor Panczak, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and accordion virtuoso Michael Bridge. 2008 Champion and beat-boxer James “Peterpot” McInnes and 2013 Champion Annika Odegard were even headlined performers in the 2014 Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show, “Barnburner” performing nightly to crowds of more than 120,000.

TS2 2014 Stampede Talent Search Grand Prize Champion Layten Kramer

Youth interested in this exciting program are encouraged to attend the free audition training workshop. The workshop takes place on Saturday, March 7, 2015 at Lord Beaverbrook High School. Online registration is required for all participants between the ages of 6 and 21; to register, visit Canada-wide auditions open early March; information can be found on their website.

The Stampede Talent Search is held nightly during Stampede time in the Boyce Theatre on Stampede Park. See you there!

Stampede History Moments Presents the World’s Largest Curling Rink

When you’re attending the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier between February 26 and March 7, remember to head over to the Big Four Building for fun and games in the “Brier Patch.” While you’re there, reminisce about a piece of Calgary’s curling history.

The Big Four Building used to hold the world record for the most curling sheets in one rink. When the Big Four Building opened in 1959, it had 24 curling sheets on the lower level during the winter months. It became so popular with curlers that the size was doubled in 1960, making the Big Four the world’s largest indoor curling rink with 48 sheets.

For many years in the early 20th century, Calgary curlers had been forced to play outside. Perpetually plagued by pesky, ice-melting Chinooks, Calgary curlers tried to persuade the Artificial Ice Rink Company to convert the Victoria Arena ice into a curling rink between hockey games. That idea didn’t take hold, but eventually the Stampede decided that in the winter months, they would turn the Victoria Pavilion horse barns into curling sheets. Victoria Pavilion was a huge success, both financially for the Stampede and for the curlers. It even helped encourage a campaign to bring the Macdonald Brier to Calgary in 1948. When hockey moved into the Corral after 1950, curling was expanded in the Victoria Arena to a total of 12 sheets.[1]


Hockey legend and Stampede President Mervyn “Red” Dutton throws the first rock at the Stampede bonspiel, Victoria Arena, 1953.

By 1954, however, the Stampede’s agricultural activities were expanding year-round. They decided to double the size of livestock pavilion, which limited exhibition space and the space for curling. Fortunately, curling at the Victoria Arena had been extremely profitable, and paid for the down payment for a new building and curling rink: the Big Four Building. The Stampede was confident that the building would ultimately pay for itself, largely through curling rentals.[2]

In the mid-60s, however, the popularity of the Big Four curling rink dipped slightly, and with good reason! The Big Four was still a “dry” facility—unusual for a classic bonspiel. Most other Calgary rinks had already obtained liquor licenses and syphoned business from the Big Four. In 1967, the Stampede rectified the problem by getting a liquor license, and in doing so won back many of its lost curlers.[3]


The Big Four remained a curling rink until the lead up to the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, at which time the ice was removed to accommodate a media centre.

On March 5, 2015, Mavericks Restaurant in the Big Four Building will be hosting “The Great Canadian Auction” with proceeds going to Canada-wide curling bursaries for children in need of financial support for sport. Find out more, here.




[1] James Gray, A Brand of Its Own: The 100 Year History of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede (Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1985), 123-124.

[2] Ibid., 160.

[3] Ibid., 143.



The Calgary Stampede and Calgary Flames heat up Western night at the Dome

The Calgary Flames and the Calgary Stampede teamed up once again for the annual Western Night at Friday night’s game between the Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Ducks.

Flames Western Night

To kick off the night, the Calgary Stampede Showband Band of Outriders and Stampede entertainment got game goers into the western spirit as they arrived on Friday night. Thanks to help from the promotion committee, the first 10,000 fans received red Calgary Stampede foam fingers.

During the game, the crowd, donned in western wear, was fully ignited, cheering on the Flames with the coveted foam fingers. One hundred fifty lucky guests won an iconic white hat, while others received 2015 Calgary Stampede belt buckles, t-shirts and tickets.

The night wouldn’t be complete without some great entertainment between periods. During the first intermission, the official voice of the Stampede chuckwagon races, Les McIntyre commentated a mini version of the Stampede’s iconic chuckwagon races on the ice. Reigning Calgary Stampede champion Kurt Bensmiller and driver Jordie Fike drove the mini wagons fueled by players from the Bow Valley minor hockey club. Bensmiller took the title with Fike only seconds behind.

During the second intermission, the Calgary Flames surprised our very own Harry the Horse with a special 30th birthday Zamboni ride!

Throughout the night fans had the opportunity to meet the Calgary Stampede royal trio as well as the 2015 Indian Princess, try their skills at Yahoo IQ and hang with Harry the Horse and Harvey the Hound.

The evening kindled some western and Stampede spirit for the upcoming Calgary Stampede, July 2 – 13, 2015.

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Stampede Showriders

Calgary Stampede Showriders auditions are coming up on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8 at the Barron Barn in Turner Valley. Showriders alumni Haley Peckham and Mazlie Gehring decided to share some inside information about the prestigious riding ensemble for prospective members and admiring fans. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the Showriders:

1. The Showriders were formed in 1985 as a colour guard for the Calgary Stampede Showband.

Originally, the Showriders existed to accompany the Showband in parades and rodeos across southern Alberta. Celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, the equestrian group has since developed its own identity as a unique Calgary Stampede Foundation educational program that develops members’ riding skills and provides opportunities to travel, perform, and compete.


2. Boys are allowed

Historically, the Showriders have been comprised of female riders, but male riders are allowed in the group!

3. The Showriders and the Stampede Showband rehearse together before parades so that the horses get used to being around the band.

Most horses don’t spend a lot of time around trumpets and bass drums, so the Showriders and Showband get together to practice before the summer performance season begins. This helps the horses acclimate to the loud sounds.

4. Showrider horses are as much part of the team as the riders.

Much of the Showrider rehearsals involve the horses getting to know each other and learning to work together. Showrider horses learn to be calm and resilient, in addition to the unique performance skills they acquire through clinics and rehearsals. Pairings are also made based on how the horses get along with each other. The riders learn how to take better care of their horses through information sessions on topics such as “how to feed your horse,” “how to keep your horse energized” and “how to condition horses to keep them in shape between practices.”

5. The Showriders use A LOT of hairspray and glitter.

Gehring told us that she goes through six cans of hairspray and an absurd number of bobby pins during Stampede time. What else could keep their hair looking fabulous after a performance in the Infield? They also go through a lot of glitter. Apparently, it is easy to spot the Showriders’ area in the barns because it is covered in glitter. If you look closely, you’ll see that they also stencil a “C lazy S” in glitter on each horse every day.

6. The Showriders aren’t the ranch girls that carry the flags during the Calgary Stampede Rodeo.

The Calgary Stampede Ranch Girls are an entirely separate program from the Showriders. The Showriders sometimes also carry flags, but you’ll notice that they dress differently and give a performance similar to the RCMP Musical Ride.


7. They are different than American-style drill teams.

American drill teams are known for their speed, the Showriders are known for their precision, something they call “sitting pretty.” The Showriders also have a much shorter season and are a smaller team compared to most American-based groups, which are often able to ride year round.

8. The Showriders ride behind the Showband for two very important reasons.

The Showriders ride behind the Showband so that the band doesn’t have to step in horse poop (ick!) and so that the horses can see where all that noise is coming from.

9. The Showriders rode as the colour guard for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine (Will and Kate), when they visited the Stampede in 2011.

Peckham recalls Kate saying that the Showriders and their horses were “beautiful.”

10. Being a Showrider is a great way to train to become a Calgary Stampede Queen or Princess.

There is no guarantee that Showriders will go on to become rodeo royalty, but many alumna have become Calgary Stampede Queens and Princesses. Peckham, a 2015 Stampede Princess, and Gehring, this year’s Airdrie Pro-Rodeo Princess, both say that their experiences in Showriders helped them to develop confidence and improve their riding ability – important factors considered by judges in rodeo royalty contests.

The Showriders are looking for 14 – 21 year-olds who love to ride and own their own horse. To register for the Showriders clinic and auditions on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, email


Everything you need to know about dairy cattle and the upcoming Dairy Classic

If you’re curious about seeing where your milk comes from in person, come down to Stampede Park to the Dairy Classic “show day” on Saturday, March 21. You’ll be able to learn some new things, see some new sights, and take part in this longstanding tradition. Debbie Lee of the Dairy Cattle committee shared some insight on this event and how it came to be.

The 2015 Calgary Stampede Dairy Classic runs Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 2015 in the Agriculture barns on Stampede Park. The exhibiting of dairy cattle is one of the longest running agriculture shows as its roots date back to 1886 when the first fair was held in Calgary. Fairs were usually held in the fall to celebrate the harvest season, allowing the agriculture community to show off livestock, grains and even their homemaking preserves.

Dairy Classic - Stampede Park

One of the first Dairy Shows at Stampede Park

Now, dairy cattle are shown at the Dairy Classic each year in the spring. The Dairy Classic plays host to dairy cattle, from the western provinces, as they compete for top prize money. “I spent my childhood showing Jerseys with 4-H and at the Stampede with my family,” Lee explains.

The show usually includes Holstein and Jersey cows and only the girls get to come to the Dairy Classic as there are only classes for heifers (young females) and cows. The Holstein breed is the most common breed of dairy cow; 95 per cent of all cows milked in Canada are Holsteins. They are typically black and white in colour but, less commonly, there are also red and white Holsteins. The Holstein is the largest in size of the dairy breeds and produces the largest amount of milk; however, their milk typically does not contain as much milkfat (cream) as the other breeds.

Holstein cow

The Jerseys are typically light brown in colour but there are some Jerseys that have black tones and even some with white markings. They are the smallest in size of the dairy breeds, and they usually produce the smallest amount of milk, but their milk contains the most milkfat (cream) and protein.

Jersey cow
Jersey Cow

Optimum milk production is the ultimate goal, so although the cows must be very good milk producers, they are judged on conformation, with extra points being given for the mammary system and udder. Some of the things a judge is looking for are strong legs to carry the cow; a deep, large barrel or stomach so the cow can eat a lot (to help produce more milk); and a straight top line. The judges look for an udder that is well attached in the front and the rear so that it can last for many years of production. Finally, the cow’s teats should be even and well placed.

Dairy Classic - utters

An example of judging at the Agriculture Barns during Dairy Classic

One of the most frequently asked questions is why are the dairy cows so thin? Well, the dairy breeds are meant to be that way. They do not have the same kind of muscle mass or fat that a beef animal does. It takes a tremendous amount of nutrition for dairy cows to produce such a large amount of milk each day, so they are fed a good quality diet of grains, hay and usually silage. They use this nutrition to help produce large quantities of milk and they do not put on fat or extra weight; so to some they may appear to be bony, when in fact they are very healthy and in extremely good shape.

Dairy Classic

 Debbie Lee pictured above with one of her beloved cows

As the Dairy Cattle committee prepares for this year’s event, Lee reminisces on her involvement with the committee. “My Dad, Eric Longeway, was involved with the Stampede showing dairy cattle since the 1930s and then he became a member of the Dairy Cattle committee in 1954. In 1986, I joined the Dairy Cattle committee as the first woman on the committee.” Lee and the rest of the committee are thrilled to be hosting the Holstein Canada National Convention Show and Sale at Stampede Park during the Dairy Classic in April 2016.

For more information about this year’s event, visit

Dairy Classic - youth class
Youth class at the Dairy Classic on Stampede Park



Calgary Stampede Honoured with two Agriculture Awards

The Calgary Stampede and our long-time director of Western Events and Agriculture of have been honoured with two awards in agriculture. In a ceremony held in Edmonton on February 7, 2015, Max Fritz was named the recipient of the 2015 Award of Merit from the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies (AAAS), and the Stampede received the Alberta Agricultural Society Century Award.

Max Fritz Awarded the AAAS Award of Merit

The AAAS Award of Merit is presented to an individual or organization that has excelled in the encouragement of growth and promotion of Agricultural Societies in Alberta.

Max Fritz accepting the 2015 Award of Merit

AAAS President Doug Kryzanowski (l) presents the Calgary Stampede’s Max Fritz with the 2015 Award of Merit

The AAAS honoured Fritz, as follows:

A 30-year team member at the Calgary Stampede, Max Fritz is the director of Western Events and Agriculture for the Calgary Stampede. That covers a lot of ground, with oversight for rodeo and chuckwagon racing, plus year-round western performance horse competitions and agriculture. Max also oversees the Calgary Stampede’s role as ranchers, operating a 22,000 acre ranch and the Born to Buck horse breeding program as well as a cow-calf cattle operation on 8,000 acres.

The Stampede’s role bridging urban and rural audiences fits well with Max’s lifestyle and unique perspectives. Every day he commutes from his farm outside of Calgary into the heart of the city then enjoys his downtime as an avid outdoorsman exploring the great outdoors of Alberta. Max witnesses on a daily basis the dramatic societal changes that shape community opinions on land and livestock management, as well as perceptions of working animals.

Over the years, Max has experienced many changes in how the Stampede’s guests engage in events and attractions on Stampede Park over the year. Much of his time is spent working with a variety of key stakeholders and associations to ensure the organization and industry is aligned with the values of the community. Fairs and exhibitions play a critical role in the community to gather people to celebrate and present unique opportunity to showcase working animals to an increasingly urbanized population. While differences of opinion and challenges are ever-present, Max believes that there are no magic answers, other than ensuring that we are aligned in our values and our actions continue to be meaningful to the community in the future.

Congratulations, Max!

The Stampede awarded the Alberta Agricultural Society Century Award.

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development has honoured the contribution that the Calgary Stampede has made to the Calgary and southern Alberta communities since its incorporation more than 100 years ago, by presenting it with the Century Award.

Fritz accepting the AAAS Centry award on the Stampede’s behalf

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Verlyn Olson (l) presents the Century Award to the Calgary Stampede’s Max Fritz.

In 1884, Calgary was a small outpost for the surrounding agricultural areas. Recognizing the potential of the region, citizens formed the Calgary and District Agricultural Society. Their aim was to educate visitors about new techniques in agriculture, change the widespread belief that the conditions in the West were unsuitable for agriculture and attract eastern farmers.

The Agricultural Society held Calgary’s first fair in 1886. The Calgary Tribune reported that “There is no reason why Calgary Fair should not be made for all time the leading fair of the west.” Over the next decades, the Agricultural Society—later known as the Calgary Exhibition—saw success in its fairs, but struggled financially. The merger with the Calgary Stampede in 1923 brought stability, and since then the popularity of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede has continued to grow.

The Stampede hosts a range of agricultural events year-round, and works closely with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to preserve the historic OH Ranch. It also runs numerous education programs, including Aggie Days, 4-H, Stampede School, the OH Ranch Education Program and Journey 2050.

The widespread success of the Stampede’s year-round agricultural programming led to the opening of the Agrium Western Event Centre last year. This state-of-the-art facility has been carefully designed to meet the unique needs and safety of our animal guests.

The Stampede welcomes three million guests to its Park each year. Since 1884, the Stampede has continued to honour the Calgary and District Agricultural Society’s original objectives of educating visitors and showcasing Alberta agriculture at home and to the world.

Thank you to everyone past and present who has helped the Stampede to achieve this honour.

What Do Cows Eat in the Winter?

Jill BurkhardtToday we have another guest post from farmer Jill Burkhardt of Crooked Lake Farms near Edmonton, where she and her husband are 5th generation farmers raising Angus-cross cattle on grass land with their two children. You can follow Jill on Twitter and their farm on Facebook. Jill previously wrote on how to help cows in the cold weather and cows in the heat.

What Do Cows Eat in the Winter

With a foot of snow on the ground and temperatures below zero, many people often ask, what do cows eat in the winter?  The simple answer is hay.

Most people are familiar the a cows diet in the summer, acres and acres of lush green grass. But what is hay? Hay is the staple forage in most cattle operations. Hay is forage (grass and alfalfa) that has been cut, dried, and made into bales.  It would be similar to us eating dried fruit, for example.  Putting up forage in this manner, a producer can store a nutritious feed source for the animals to eat during the cold winter months.

On our farm, feeding the cows in the winter starts way back in June.  This is when we start getting the equipment ready to make hay.  Before the haymaking begins, all the blades need to be changed on the disc-bine cutter.  The oil needs to be changed the the tractor.  Belts and chains need to be checked and adjusted on the baler.

Discbine cutting hay

Usually toward the first week of July, the alfalfa and grass is getting close, and we begin watching the weather forecast.  Once we begin to cut the alfalfa and grass for hay we do not want any rain on it.  Rain causes the cut forage to slowly rot, having the potential of destroying the nutritional value of the hay, once it is baled.  As we hope and pray for no rain, the cut alfalfa lays in swaths in the field, drying.  Once the swaths look and feel dry, we get out the hay rake and give the hay a turn.  This helps it to dry evenly.  Once the swaths are dry, we get the round baler out and bale up the dried alfalfa and grass into hay bales.  This process is again repeated at the middle to end of August for our area.

Once the hay is baled, we haul the hay home and stack it in our bale yard.  This is where the hay is stored until it is used to feed the cows in the winter.  We do not want to leave the hay bales in the field too long, because just like object left in your lawn, the vegetative life under the bales cannot get any sunlight, and therefore dies.

Tractor and Baler

Tractor and Baler

When the bales are all at home and we are done haying, we test the bales to see their nutritive values.  This is done by using a bale corer, a tool that you push in to the centre or core of the bale to get a small sample.  We randomly test all the bales, separating them by field or the time they were cut.  The sample is sent away to a lab where they test for nutrients, minerals, vitamins, digestive ability, and protein, for example.  We receive a printout back that is similar to the labels we see on our food.  From this information, we decide when we feed certain bales, how many bales need to be fed to the cows, if we have to add any supplements in the form of whole grains to their diet, and what other minerals and vitamins we have to add to make a balanced ration to help the cows maintain their weight and if bred, carry a healthy calf to term, through the winter.

Hay Rake

In addition to hay all cows our our area need a salt supplement.  We have large metal tubs that we set out all year that contains salt that is supplemented with selenium, trace minerals, Vitamins A, D and E.  Just like vitamins help us maintain our health, this mix keeps our cattle healthy.

Cows Eating Hay Bale

Happy, healthy cows is very important to producers.  Putting up hay for use in the winter is one way we keep our cows fed and healthy, especially in the cold.

Looking for the Dream Home Artist!

Are you an artist with undiscovered talent? Why not take advantage of this year’s Dream Home Artist Project and have your paintings viewed by over 100,000 visitors from around the world during the ten days of Stampede!  After all, what would a home be without artwork on the wall?

In partnership with the Stampede Lotteries, Homes by Avi and Gibson Fine Art, Calgary’s Next Top Artist Contest is now open for submissions. The inspiration behind this year’s home celebrates the beauty of Alberta’s landscape with a modern take on the classic mountain chalet. If you feel your work complements the style we encourage you to enter.

The winner of Calgary’s Next Top Artist Contest receives:

  • Art displayed in the Stampede Rotary Dream Home for the duration of the Stampede (over 100,000 people walk through the home)
  • Art exhibited at Gibson Fine Art following the Calgary Stampede
  • Promotional article in Swerve magazine
  • Bragging rights to all your friends

All you need to do is submit 5 or 6 images and contact details to before Friday March 9, 2015 at 5:00 pm (Mountain Standard Time).

Entrants must be able to produce or supply 30 to 40 pieces of varying sizes two weeks prior to the start of the Calgary Stampede. Please see full contest rules at Homes by Avi.

What’s Going on With Canadian Honeybees?

Lee TownsendToday’s guest post is from Lee Townsend. Lee is a second generation commercial beekeeper from Stony Plain, Alberta. Alongside his father, he operates 3100 honeybee colonies for honey production. His business has expanded consistently for the past 30 years, and has also been strictly exporting all their honey to the Asian marketplace since 2009. Lee has served on numerous agricultural based boards, most notably 7 years on the Alberta Beekeepers Commission board and 3 years on the Canadian Honey Council board. He has a new blog called Alberta Buzzing and you can follow him on Twitter.

When I was asked to write this for Aggie Days, I wasn’t sure where exactly to start.  There has been a great deal of misinformation about the Canadian and world honeybee industry spread by both the media and certain beekeeping associations. While it’s challenging for us as an industry to dissect it all and separate the truth from the lies, I can’t imagine what it’s like for the general public when they hear this conflicting information. I’ll take this opportunity to try and do my best at sorting through it for you.

The Canadian honeybee industry is thriving, that is a fact. Do we have our fair share of challenges before us? Of course, but that’s true within any form of agriculture. Despite these challenges the number of beekeepers and honeybee colonies has increased substantially in Canada over the past decade. In 2004 there were 7,925 beekeepers operating 597,890 colonies within Canada. As of 2014, those numbers had increased to 8,777 beekeepers and 694,217 colonies. Why is that?

Before I go further, there needs to be a brief history lesson of the Canadian beekeeping industry. The honeybee used in Canada (Apis Mellifera) is not native to Canada. It was introduced to Canada from Europe in 1776, with that introduction taking place in Ontario.  The honeybee was then further introduced to the rest of Canada over the next century.  By 1927, the honeybee was introduced to every province in Canada, and during both World Wars the number of hives continued to grow in part due to the sugar rations in Canada at that time. In fact, you can trace the history of many Canadian beekeeping businesses back to the great wars.

As time went by and the industry continued to grow, the realization that Canadian winters weren’t kind to honeybees became very apparent. Beekeepers were having varying levels of success with overwinter of honeybees, but the practice of importing honeybees from the USA became a vital part of most beekeeping operations. The importation of packages was more prevalent on the Canadian prairies, but it happened across the country.  This lasted until late 1987, when the USA border to package bees was shut down. It was closed for a number of reasons, but the main reason was to slow the introduction of various pests (parasitic mites) and diseases (American Foulbrood) into Canada.Lees Bees

When the USA border closed to package bees, many beekeeping operations went out of business. The overwintering of honeybees had become somewhat of a lost art, and to this day it is still a challenge for Canadian beekeepers. But there are many of us that have learned how to be successful with overwintering colonies since 1987, and that’s evident by the fact the Canadian honeybee industry has never been bigger than it was in 2014.

Beekeeping today is a never ending challenge, but it isn’t a doomed industry. One of the main reasons for the success of the industry, specifically on the prairies, is due to the strong relationships beekeepers have with farmers and the biotechnology industry.  Seed companies and farmers depend on honeybees for the pollination of crops such as Canola. Beekeepers depend on farmers for the crops we produce honey from and we depend on the pollination contracts we receive from the seed companies. Beekeepers also depend on biotechnology for many of the hive health products we use to defend our bees from the multitude of pests and disease our bees suffer from. Without this symbiotic relationship you would see far fewer honeybee colonies in Canada. Ask any successful beekeeper in Canada and they will tell you a similar story. Ask most unsuccessful beekeepers the same questions and you’ll get back a multitude of excuses with no concrete evidence to back it up. Like most industries in agriculture, they generally had to lose a few members in order to get better. The beekeeping industry is still going through that process, but it’s slowly improving.

The Stampede celebrates National Flag of Canada Day

Happy National Flag Day, Canada! Today we celebrate fifty years of our nation’s unifying symbol: the Canadian Flag.

By 1965, the maple leaf was already commonly used by Canadians to signify their unique identity from the rest of the British Commonwealth. However, the country’s flag was still the Canadian Red Ensign, which featured the Union Jack and the Canadian Coat of Arms. Prime Minister Lester Pearson recognized that Canada had come of age and so he commissioned the design of the country’s new flag. The Canadian Flag was raised for the first time at noon on February 15, 1965.

The Calgary Stampede flying the Union Jack and Red Ensign, 1955.

The Calgary Stampede flying the Union Jack and Red Ensign, 1955.

Stampede Park has proudly flown the Canadian flag since 1965. It is most visible today from the large steel flagpole in Indian Village, which stretches 63 metres (207 feet) high. Stampede Park’s flagpole has an interesting heritage, as explained below.

The World’s Tallest Wooden Flagpole

The first flagpole that stood in Indian Village was made of a single Douglas Fir tree, which was gifted to the Calgary Stampede from the British Columbia government in 1981. Standing 62 metres (204 feet) high, it was the largest wooden flagpole in the world![1] The massive tree had required the efforts of 37 loggers to remove from the ground. It was then hauled overland on a logging truck to Calgary, and established in Indian Village in 1982. Just five years after the CN Tower had overshadowed the Calgary Tower as Canada’s tallest tower, the Calgary Stampede’s flagpole surpassed Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibit flagpole as the tallest wooden flagpole in the world.[2]

Logging truck carrying the Douglas Fir tree to Calgary. Photo Courtesy of the “From Camp to Community” Virtual Museum, BC Forest Discovery Centre.

Logging truck carrying the Douglas Fir tree to Calgary. Photo Courtesy of the “From Camp to Community” Virtual Museum, BC Forest Discovery Centre.

The world's tallest wooden flagpole, Indian Village circa 1985.

The world’s tallest wooden flagpole, Indian Village circa 1985.

Unfortunately, over the next 19 years, the pole’s core began to rot, so it was replaced in 2001 by the steel flagpole that stands in Indian Village today.[3] While the pole has changed, the flag—and the spirit of national unity that it represents—has remained the same, and the Stampede is proud to honour that spirit. On February 15 we encourage you to fly your Canadian flag… we sure will be.



[1] Kerry Williamson, “Stampede flagpole gets trashy ending,” Calgary Herald, September 29,2001.

[2] Williamson, “Stampede flagpole.”

[3] “The Flag Pole,” (retrieved February 10, 2015).

35 years later, Sponsors are the true stars of the Stampede Talent Search.

As the Stampede Talent Search enters its 35th season, it’s impossible to reflect upon the history and transformation of this annual on-park event without a big “hats-off” to all of our sponsors.

Throughout the past three decades, significant evolution to the Talent Search show, format and set design have been enabled through generous donations and support from our sponsors. From technology to better showcase our performers, to equipment and musical instruments, the quality of contributions are a reflection of their commitment to our event.

New set design for the 2014 Stampede Talent Search.

New set design for the 2014 Stampede Talent Search. (Photo courtesy: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

Our performers directly benefit from sponsorship dollars as well. Sponsors have helped enable our Grand Prize award of $10,000 this year and finalists receive generous cash prizes. A professional recording session sets up our Champion with valuable studio experience, and a development package through the Calgary Stampede can often kick-start their careers. Even professional photography helps fulfill the committee’s mandate of developing young talent by providing an essential piece of their personal portfolio.

The Stampede Talent Search is becoming a well-known and reputable national talent event drawing young performers from across Canada. Whether they are participating in our first free audition training workshop this spring, or performing on our stage during the ten-days of the Calgary Stampede, our young talent is able to experience a state-of-the art production and we couldn’t be more proud to associate with these fine sponsors.


Lead Sponsors:



PSAV Presentation Services

The Calgary Stampede



Michael Lipnicki Fine Pianos

Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo

Bestway TV and Appliances

The Station Recording Company

Long & McQuade Musical Instruments

Hopewell Development Corporation

Global Experience Specialists


“Our sponsors are proud to be part of discovering and developing young talent,” says Vicki Kranenburg, volunteer lead of the Stampede Talent Search Sponsorship committee. “Over our 35 years, we have discovered major talent, internationally-acclaimed country recording star, Paul Brandt, being just one to note. Sponsors have been strong supporters of our event, and, through their generous contributions, have created an opportunity for all our performers to be their best.”

 A free audition training workshop for all potential contestants is being held Saturday, March 7th at Lord Beaverbrook High School. Young performers between ages 6 and 21 are invited to visit for details and registration information.



Stampede Princess Haley is just a big kid at heart

Wow, it’s hard to believe that we’re already into February and less than five months away from the 2015 Stampede! While we had a nice little break over the Christmas season to catch up with our families, it was fun getting back into the swing of Royalty life towards the end of January. And with eight events within six days, we were back into it at full speed!

One of our first events of the week was out in Airdrie, AB judging public speaking for the Midnight Express 4H club. It was my first time acting as a judge, and I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous going into it. I had a hard time coming to terms with the idea of critiquing these young kids when they’re all so darn cute! However, any of the fear I originally had dissipated quickly once we got there. All of the kids did an amazing job on their speeches so it made our job very easy!


After a busy day of judging, we had the pleasure of catching up with the Grey Cup committee at their wind-up dinner. It was great seeing a bunch of the faces that helped make Vancouver so special for us and everyone else out there! Thank you for everything that you guys do.


One of the highlights of the week for me was getting out to Big Rock School in Okotoks, AB to be part of their Celebrity Reading Week. The week kicked off with a rocking start thanks to Calgary band Swift Olliver, who my high school friend is the lead singer for, putting on a concert at the school. We had a blast dancing with and interacting with the kids and the band put on an awesome show.


After the concert, and on another day that week, we were able to read some of our favourite childhood stories and some new favourites to a few of the classrooms. After spending four years in business school where the majority of your reading is textbooks, it was great getting to relax and read fun stories to the kids. What surprised me was that a lot of the books that were my favourites when I was in elementary school are still popular today. When I mentioned to one class that my favourite book was “Stephanie’s Ponytail” by Robert Munsch, pretty much every kid in the room chimed up in recognition. It was great seeing how excited the kids were about reading, and it made it easy for us to get excited too!


While we attend a variety of events with a diverse range of people, one of the most rewarding parts of this experience for me has been interacting with the kids. There’s something about having a crown on your head that makes them look up to you and want to tell you everything. You never know the difference that a kind word, a compliment, or even a smile can make to the life of a kid, even though we’re all big kids at heart!


Until next time,
Princess Haley

Live, Eat and Breathe Farming!

Matt Gosling

Today’s blog post is written by Matt Gosling. Matt is an agronomist and farmer near the Strathmore area. You can follow Matt on Twitter and learn more about his business Premium Ag.

Live, eat and breathe farming! That’s what I do and I feel completely blessed to love agriculture so much. Farming has always been part of my DNA. I grew up admiring my grandfather who was a farmer his whole life. He was second generation after his parents immigrated from Poland in the early 1900’s. After 3 years of crop failures in Jenner, they were inspired to move West, ending up NW of Strathmore. As a child, my fondest memories are riding on the combine picking up canola.

Unfortunately my grandfather had health issues in the early 80’s forcing him to sell off a lot of the farm. We ended up moving to the farm in 1991 where my step-dad Dave Gosling sparked my interest in 4-H, raising Limousin cattle, and being involved in ag youth programs. My 4-H career lasted 9 years and after graduating high-school in Strathmore I immediately enrolled in the Agriculture Sciences program at the University of Alberta.  A 4-H friend recommended me to join FarmHouse fraternity which I did my first day on campus, as well as the Ag Club.

It was pretty easy to realize that I wasn’t going to have a career farming, so I embraced my university career. Not so much in the academics, but by being involved and meeting some of the best friends that I still have today. I’ve always loved all aspects of farming, but my first instincts were to be in animal science. At the time, there weren’t many job opportunities in that industry, so the plant side of the business is where my compass pointed.

Premium Ag

After receiving my BSc in Agriculture Science, I lasted less than 2 years in the corporate world realizing my ambitions were to own my own business. I quickly found Agri-Trend and they had everything I needed to start my business and Premium Ag was born.  March 15th 2004 I held my launch meeting and there’s been no looking back. In 2009, I sold half the business to Andrew Clements to accommodate more growth and a higher level of service, and that match has been nothing but a miracle for Premium Ag and we’ve grown over the last 11 crops to offer many more services outside of agronomy.

Philanthropy has been a big part of my life through 4-H, FarmHouse, and now being a LIONS member. With the Cheadle LIONS club, I’ve helped coordinate as much as $2 million towards the Canadian Foodgrains Bank growing projects.

The dream of owning my own farm was accomplished on September 30th, 2010 where my wife Marissa and I are raising our young family. Just south of Strathmore I get to practice what I preach on 80 acres of crop land, with 30 acres of that being irrigated. We’re also extremely proud to farm 80 acre that my grandparents farmed as well. Frequently we have family and friends out to help with the farm and our intensive gardening habit. As I say, “I was born, raised, and will someday retire in farming around Strathmore”.