Juno-nominee memories on Stampede Park

The Juno Awards are this Sunday, April 3! Since it’s the Year of Music in Calgary and our fine city is hosting the show, we thought we’d look back at fond memories of some of the nominees playing here on Stampede Park.

Brett Kissel (nominated for Country Album of the Year) played at Nashville North in 2014 and the Coca-Cola Stage in 2015. But wait, 2014 was far from Kissel’s first appearance on Stampede Park. His first was in 2001 at the ripe old age of 11-years old, when he sang at the Suncor Family Day Breakfast.

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh / Calgary Stampede

Shortly after “Call Me Maybe” exploded in the world, Carly Rae Jepsen (nominated for the JUNO Fan Choice Award) performed on the Coke Stage in 2012. She made her first performance at Stampede in 2009.

Photo Credit: Tye Carson

Paul Brandt (nominated for Country Album of the Year) won the Calgary Stampede Talent Search in 1992. Twenty years later, he found himself on stage at the TransAlta Grandstand Show for 10 nights to celebrate the Stampede’s centennial. He also performed at the Virgin Mobile Stampede Concert Series in 2014.

Paul Brandt 2012

Dean Brody (nominated for the JUNO Fan Choice Award & Country Album of the Year) performed at Nashville North in 2010 and 2011. Here he is on the Coke Stage in 2013.

Photo Credit: Tye Carson / Calgary Stampede

The beloved Sheepdogs (nominated for Rock Album of the Year) on the Coke stage in 2012!

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh

Many, many more of this year’s nominees have performed at Stampede over the years including Walk Off the Earth, Hedley, Marianas Trench, Three Days Grace, Francesco Yates, Matthew Good, Scott Helman, Nickelback, k-os, Splash n boots and more. Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees! We’re so lucky to live in a country full of great music to celebrate.

Showband 2016: In Pursuit

The Calgary Stampede Showband is thrilled to announce its 2016 production, In Pursuit. Inspired by classic heist films and television, the production will take the Showband’s audiences on an intriguing and exciting chase as the band tracks down a stolen briefcase. Check out the quick teaser trailer below!

In Pursuit will feature music including Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint”, John Powell’s “Tangiers”, Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s “Equilibrium”, Adele’s “Skyfall”, and the theme from The Streets of San Francisco. Oscillating between minimalist, comical, and dramatic elements, this production will have a wide emotional range. According to the Calgary Stampede’s Director of Bands Aaron Park, In Pursuit will be both suspenseful and fun. “It’s not necessarily a story about detectives or spies, although it has that same feeling of mystery and intrigue. It’s sort of a ‘catch me if you can’ story; everyone is after the same elusive briefcase and what may be inside. “Electric Counterpoint” is woven throughout the show as a recurring motif to bring out that feeling of pursuit, mystery, and intrigue.”

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Three ways the iTeAm can help YOUR Committee.

When it comes to being enthusiastic about bringing fresh ideas to the Stampede, the iTeAm is ready to go.

You may have seen what we’ve done on our website in the Idea Bank. Or had a presentation at your committee meeting talking about our simple process.

But how can the iTeAm really help you, a dedicated Stampede volunteer, on your committee?


There are so many big ideas out there from our talented volunteers -- are you ready to share?

There are so many big ideas out there from our talented volunteers — are you ready to share?

  1. “No, Can’t and Won’t” are not words we use.

You may have had an idea in the past brought forward to your committee chair or vice-chair that is a great idea, but perhapsoutside of the scope, scale, or resources of your committee mandate. While it is important to understand that we are not a backdoor route to increasing individual committee budgets, or re-hashing ideas brough forward and rejected by your committee, we CAN help give your awesome ideas a home if they simply live outside of your existing committee and meet our strategic objectives. (You can find all this on our website and once you engage with our simple online idea collection form)

  1. Our network is really big, and really easy to access.

Sometimes the hardest part about getting a great idea to see the light of day is knowing where to start. Start by connecting with the iTeAm! If we know how to do anything, it’s asking the kinds of questions required to make sure that the right people are asked the right questions to hopefully, help the organization make the right decisions. We are charged with supporting YOU so YOUR idea gets the consideration it deserves.

  1. We believe in synergy…yes, it’s cheesy, but true.

Synergy, by definition, is two things coming together to create something greater than each individual part. So if you have an idea that needs a little help, feel free to browse our online Idea Bank. This is where we house all submitted ideas, as well as a brief description of their status. It’s through capturing these ideas that you may learn from other ideas, and see opportunities for your idea to be refined or tweaked. We’re all about learning, and believe you can learn as much from a homerun as you can from a strike-out.

So what’s on your mind?

If you have in idea rattling around in your head, or that’s been bugging you for a while, please connect with us! Visit us a www.innovation.calgarystampede.com to learn more about our simple process, or submit your idea online instantly through our simple form. And if you’re just looking to get inspired, follow us on Twitter @Innovation_CS.


Skis, Chaps and Cowboy Hats

The Back on Track Canadian Cowboy Ski Race, presented by Ranchmans, hit the slopes of Lake Louise recently, and the Calgary Stampede was proud  to be a part of the fun. The 4th annual event was an action packed day with cowboys and cowgirls flying down the course in support of a good cause.

2016 Back on Track Canadian Cowboy Ski Race

2016 Back on Track Canadian Cowboy Ski Race

Thanks to some great corporate partners and many from the rodeo community, the ski race raises over $15,000 annually for the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sports Medicine Team. The day’s events have always brought some great action and awesome spills and this year was no exception.

Former Calgary Stampede saddle bronc rider Ryley Harvey (also known as the face of the Stampede’s “Champions Buckle Up” TV ad) was the big winner, taking home his second championship buckle for the fastest cowboy in the ever popular “Cowboy Downhill Race”.

The downhill consists of around 60 cowboys and cowgirls all dressed in their rodeo attire, including hats and chaps, barreling down the main run all at the same time. Ryley was able to survive the mayhem and come out on top.

Navada Phipps, Jennifer Munro, Nicole Miller and Kynan Vine - Team Calgary Stampede

Team Calgary Stampede – Navada Phipps, Jennifer Munro, Nicole Miller and Kynan Vine

The Calgary Stampede has been a supporter of the event since its inception, donating items for the silent auction and sponsorship for the races. Annalise Blishen, a member of the Stampede Rodeo Committee was the 2014 Champion. This year, Grady Galvin represented the Rodeo Committee, coming up just short of a win.

The Agriculture and Western Events team was well represented in 2016 with Jen Munro and Navada Phipps joining me on the slopes. Nicole Miller from the Stampede’s People Services also got in on the action. She caims she took home second place in the women’s snowboard slalom race, even though that couldn’t be verified at the time of this blog.

I’m also an event organizer, and along with Brandon Thome and Ted Stovin, I’m extremely appreciative of the support that the Stampede gives to this event. And I know the winner of the Rodeo and Evening Show tickets at this year’s event is very excited to take in the Stampede this summer.



lake louse

Once again this year, the Lake Louise Ski Area bid on a chuckwagon driver at the recent Calgary Stampede Canvas Auction and will be joining us as a valued advertiser. It only seems fitting that they partner with the Cowboy Ski Race event to bring the western community to the ski hill and truly showcase what Western Alberta is all about!

The patrons of the hill on Saturday were treated to a real Wild West experience and some true western hospitality. The day’s events were capped off by a dinner, silent auction and a dance in the ski lodge for the competitors and spectators. In total the event had 120 guests and the silent auction raised nearly $6000 for the Sports Medicine Team who are on hand during Stampede each year to take care of our Rodeo and Chuckwagon competitors. The Sports Medicine team is a non-profit organization so all of the funds raised go to helping keep them going down the road each year.

Picture perfect weather for a party on the patio at Lake Louise

Picture perfect weather for a party on the patio at Lake Louise

The Wrangler Network has a video with highlights of the day, including the big Cowboy Downhill race that you can watch here.  If you weren’t able to be a part of the fun this year, next March be sure to grab your cowboy hat and your boots and head out Lake Louise to do your best to “Buck the Mountain”.


Small Spurs, Huge Futures

They may wear some small spurs for now but rodeo in southern Alberta has a big future. The Small Spurs Rodeo in Claresholm, Alberta gives tomorrow’s stars of rodeo a place to develop their skills.


Since Dusty and Travis Whiteside created the program it has taken off and today there are more than 400 entries on a given weekend for the rodeos. Kids ages 14 and under have a chance to test their skills in events like barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and even steer riding.

Today’s organizers, Ty and Hayley Elliot and Matt and Janessa McNichol, spend countless hours organizing and preparing as well as running each of the rodeos held over the winter months. Thanks to their dedication and hard work and the support of corporate partners like the Calgary Stampede, hundreds of kids have an opportunity to get involved in the sport of rodeo.


On March 11-12, the Small Spurs held their annual season finals and what an exciting way to cap off their season. The Calgary Stampede is one of the leading supporters of the program and along with contributions from many great corporate partners, there were more than 100 prizes handed out to the champions on the weekend.

Small Spurs_Finals_Fri-8244

Ty Elliot   is a former Canadian Finals Bull Rider who now focuses on developing the next generation of rodeo. He recognizes the lack of interest in the rough stock events and hopes that organizations like Small Spurs will help to revitalize the rough stock end of the arena.

“The kids need a place to try it out where the animals match their skill level,” said Ty as he explained how each kid is split into the A, B and C pools according to their size and experience. This is a great way to ensure that the kids will be able to ride an animal that suits their ability. The formula seems to be working and with more than 20 steer riders each weekend, the talent pool seems to be growing at the Small Spurs.


The steer riders treated their fans and sponsors to a special performance this past Friday and I was lucky enough to be a part of it, helping organize the event for the evening. Some of the stars of the sport were on hand to help out the riders such as former Canadian Champions Matt Lait and Wes Cyr. Stampede’s own rodeo announcer Dave Poulsen called the show alongside Mike Labelle and music director Ted Stovin. Multiple-time Rodeo Entertainer of the Year, Dennis Halstead, kept everyone laughing.

Coupled with great music, some fire in the dirt and a massive replay screen, the Small Spurs Rodeo was much like watching a miniature version of the PBR bull ridings and the kids rose to the occasion, riding over half of their animals and Cranbrook cowboy Lonnie Phillips came up with high score of 86 points. There were some very excited little cowboys walking away with some great hardware and some big plans of where their talents will take them next. Hopefully most are considering this summer’s Stampede Rodeo as one of their tour stops.

Small Spurs_Finals_Fri-8263

Saturday’s events brought more great action from the timed event competitors and many more great moments as the rest of the 100 prizes were doled out to the event champions in many age categories. Dennis Halstead was still on hand and said that he is very fortunate to be a part of such a great event and a great organization. All of the personnel and helping hands are volunteers and they truly do a fantastic job creating a rodeo that would impress even the most seasoned of fans. The rodeo industry is alive and well in Claresholm and with the continued support of organizations like the Calgary Stampede we can rest easy knowing that rodeo will have stars well into the future. If you ever get a chance be sure to slip down to Claresholm and cheer on the big hearts that wear the “small spurs.”

Stampede Talent Search in the Community – Performance Camp nurtures up-and-coming young talent.

Discover, develop, encourage and showcase is the mandate of the Stampede Talent Search. And this past weekend, it was expressed in a free workshop, lead by industry professionals, to help educate and inspire young performers ages 6 to 21.

“Our roster of professional, coaches were able to help us reach out to talented young performers and inspire them to take their performance skills to the next level,” said Stampede Talent Search Chair, Andrew Bunka.

Industry heavy-weight coaches included Angela Benson (Dance Performance), Tamara Beatty (Vocal Technique) and Joni Delaurier (Songwriting).

Interactive, small group sessions gave workshop participants the opportunity to get one-on-one instruction and advice. The entire afternoon was designed to nurture collaboration, networking, and help young performers connect with each other in their local performing arts community. Participants walked away with new skills and tools to apply to any audition or stage performance in their future.

The momentum of Performance Camp will help many of these young performers prepare for the 2016 Stampede Talent Search auditions which will take place May 6, 7, and 8, 2016 in the Boyce Theatre on Stampede Park. Audition registration is now open, and hopefuls can register for a live audition in Calgary or submit a video audition. All audition details are available at StampedeTalentSearch.com.



How to be an Arts Champion

Fiddlers. Break dancers. Painters. Sculptors. Singers.

130 young people armed with brass and kettle drums.

Calgary Fiddlers

The Telus Youth Arts Showcase was an inspiring start to the Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions.

As the Calgary Stampede Showband, joined by the Stetson and Round Up bands thundered “Jubilateo” (commissioned for the Showband as part of the 2012 Stampede Centennial celebrations) to open the lunch, I couldn’t help but feel a little humbled by all the time and passion that these young people, their instructors and their parents invested to bring them to that moment.

Stampede Showband

The Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions “celebrates the transformative power of the arts, building momentum for the future.”

Arts Showcase_Pulse Studios

If we believe that arts are a vital part of any vibrant community, how can we support? How can we be an arts champion?

In her welcome message, Patti Pon, president & CEO of Calgary Arts Development and chair of the Stampede Community Projects and Development volunteer committee writes:

“[Arts champions] see the arts as a good thing, as something of value, as a way to make discoveries to connect with others, to celebrate life, and to make meaning about what it is to be alive. They see arts as a way to develop youth into their best selves and to help tell our stories in the world.”

Youth Showcase

Did you know that Calgary Arts Development invested in 150 arts organizations on behalf of the City of Calgary in 2015 alone? Wow.

When I started working for Stampede, I had no idea how invested the organization is in the arts.

Stampede invests in youth development programs like the Stampede Showband and The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede. Did you know that every one of the participants in these programs is given a scholarship by the Calgary Stampede Foundation?

The new Youth Campus will be a hub for creativity—as home to the Calgary Opera, Calgary Arts Academy in addition to the aforementioned youth programs.

The Public Art volunteer committee works to bring public art works that tell the story of our western heritage—they have brought works like Outlaw to the community, and By the Banks of the Bow to Stampede Park. They will unveil a new artwork in ENMAX Park this May.

Western Showcase committee brings Western Canada’s largest Western Art Show to Stampede each year, showcases crafts, culinary arts and runs an artist-in-residence program throughout the year.

Youth Talent Search gives young people the chance to showcase their craft and winners get access to incredible resources, including a $10,000 grand prize.

The great takeaway? There are infinite ways to be an arts champion and we all have the capacity to be one.

The Stampede is honoured to work with artists of all ages – to invest in the next generation of creatives and patrons. And to live in a city where arts and arts champions abound.



I’m thrilled to be highlighting an exciting program hosted by the Agriculture department here at the Calgary Stampede. Bridging the gap between urban and rural audiences is an area of focus for the Agriculture team – their mandate is squarely in focus as this free event will create a day of learning aimed at enhancing students’ awareness and understanding of rural and farm safety. Students, teachers and parent chaperones will have access to interactive activities and information stations.

Farm Safety Day supported by AltaLink will be held on Thursday, May 26, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for students in Grades 6 to 9. Located in AltaLink Hall at the  Agrium Western Event Centre, the aim of the program is to have a series of hand-on experiences for the students that will make a lasting impression.

Some activities planned for the day include :

  •  Large equipment safety
  •  Confined spaces and grain safety
  •  Mass force & large animal safety
  •  Chemical handling and hazard assessment
  •  ATV safety and distracted driving
  •  Electrical line safety
  •  Water safety
  •  Fire prevention and first aid

A few days ago I spoke to Kristina Barnes (Communications Manager, Western Events and Agriculture) who noted that various schools around the city have already registered along with participating classes travelling from Strathmore, Arrowwood, Three Hills and Claresholm. They’re just shy of meeting full registration for the event so if you are hoping to participate, don’t delay in filling out the registration form - due prior to March 31, 2016.

HOW TO REGISTER: Interested teachers must pre-register by completing and returning the registration form available online. The registration form can be scanned and emailed to agriculture@calgarystampede.com or faxed to 403.262.3067. Please note that funding is available to assist with bussing costs.

I am looking forward to seeing the success of this program and of course for more exciting Agricultural programming as we count down the days to 10-day Calgary Stampede 2016!


Highlights from the 2016 Calgary Stampede Annual General Meeting

Positivity and progress were reoccurring themes at the Calgary Stampede’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Shareholders gathered at Stampede Park to vote for the board of directors, receive financial and shareholder updates, and hear from president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray, and chief executive officer, Warren Connell.

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

Gray spoke of the milestones celebrated in 2015, including the Stampede’s new partnership with the Calgary Opera to create a new opera space on Stampede Park, and of the achievements of the Stampede’s many youth education and development programs. “When I started as the Stampede’s president & chairman of the board, I knew that our organization, on a year-round basis, was very committed to youth education.  What I did not appreciate was the breadth and extent of our involvement in those programs,” he said. Continue reading

A chuckwagon driver’s life: an inside look with Jamie Laboucane

The 2016 Canvas Auction presented by GMC is Thursday, March 17. Read on to learn about how important the Canvas Auction is to chuckwagon drivers and their families.

Jamie Laboucane is a second-generation GMC Rangeland Derby driver. His dad, Brian, competed in chuckwagon racing for 46 years and won six Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association titles. Jamie began racing at the Calgary Stampede GMC Rangeland Derby in 2011.

Jamie Laboucane _2

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History moment: Calgary Stampede remembers some of our greatest female contributors for International Women’s Day

To celebrate the centennial of Alberta women achieving the right to vote and International Women’s Day on March 8, let’s take a look at some of the pioneering women of western performances and rodeo who competed at the first Calgary Stampede. Continue reading

Calgary Stampede Indian Princess spreads western hospitality in Australia

The Calgary Stampede Indian Princess joined the Calgary Stampede and Travel Alberta for Destination Canada’s 2016 Canada Corroboree in Australian cities Adelaide, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney. The Corroboree is a major tourism roadshow that informs travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers and media about all the incredible things Canada has to offer. Here are some of Vanessa’s favourite memories from Down Under.


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