Building on our past, looking to the future – Agriculture at the Calgary Stampede

For ten days in July, Stampede Park in downtown Calgary is a whirl of colour and sound, with ferris wheels and fireworks, mini donuts and midway games. But at its heart, as they always have been, are animals and agriculture.

The 10-day festival, which hosts more than one million visitors from across Canada and around the world, is a celebration of community spirit and western traditions. It encourages visitors from all over the globe to put on some boots, and make a connection to Western Canada’s rural roots.

“The Calgary Stampede is one of the few places left in the world that still celebrates agriculture. We make it a commitment to introduce the urban population to the rural population,” says Stampede president & chairman of the board, Dave Sibbald. A local rancher whose family has been part of the Stampede for many generations, Sibbald is passionate about keeping the connection to agriculture alive. “It’s never been more crucial than it is today as the urban population becomes further and further removed.”

David Sibbald (L) with his family

David Sibbald (L) with his family

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Sibbald and two of his horses

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Looking Forward Toward Summer 2017, Calgary Stampede Announces Reverse Parade Route

Taking the stage Thursday, March 28, 2017, Calgary Stampede president & chairman, David Sibbald, gathered the city’s local media in the Boyce Theatre, making a special announcement about the 2017 Stampede Parade. Before making it to the end of the speech, the five-time world champion Calgary Stampede Showband and arrived on stage doing what they do best, playing their heart out and adding to the air of mystery in the room.

Calgary Stampede president & chairman, David Sibbald on stage with the Calgary Stampede Show Band

Calgary Stampede president & chairman, David Sibbald on stage with the Calgary Stampede Showband

Always a man for detail, the Stampede’s fearless leader asked the band to turn about-face, reversing the formation, aptly matching the announcement of a new direction for the 2017 Calgary Stampede Parade route! “The Stampede is now, and always will be, a gathering place for the community to celebrate western traditions and enjoy western hospitality with friends, family and guests.” Said Sibbald, “Today is about an invitation to come watch the iconic Stampede Parade …travelling in a reversed direction on the same route…”

The new Stampede Parade route, starting at Ninth Ave. and First St. SE, and finishing at Sixth Ave. and Third St. SE.

The new Stampede Parade route, starting at Ninth Ave. and First St. SE, and finishing at Sixth Ave. and Third St. SE.

Marching in reverse, the Parade will now start where it finished in years past, beginning at Ninth Ave. and First St. SE, and finishing in Calgary’s newly developed East Village at Sixth Ave. and Third St. SE. The new route will allow for easier access for parade-goers into Stampede Park, with free admission for all until 1:30 p.m.!

With less than 100 days left until The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth kicks off, the history and tradition of the Stampede Parade marks the beginning of the western spirit that will encompass Calgary running July 7 through to July 16, 2017.

Stampede’s solid financial health

In 2016 the Stampede continued to respond to the changing environment while protecting the financial health of the organization. We took on the extra challenge in 2016 to ensure our expenses were aligned with our expected revenue. We worked hard to reduce costs in order to address the anticipated decline in revenue. The end result: a bottom line community investment of more than $2 million in both 2015 and 2016 respectively. This allows us to provide the best support for our community programs, facilities and activities.

Here are some financial and community investment facts:

  • As a not-for-profit organization, our goal is to manage our finances in a way that ensures we can deliver the great experiences our community expects.
  • Yes we had a $12 million reduction to our revenue between 2015 and 2016, but we were very proactive about reducing expenses through both our annual budgets and throughout the past two years since the start of the economic downturn.
  • We expanded our programming and community events with the opening of ENMAX Park in 2016.
  • We continue to actively work with the Calgary Stampede Foundation on the development of Youth Campus.
  • Our ongoing capital budget is higher than it has been over the last couple of years and we are undertaking additional renovations on Stampede Park to make this an even better place for our community.

As a 105-year-old organization steeped in history and tradition we have survived because of our ability to change and adapt. “We continue to be out in our community listening and reacting to what they have to say,” says Warren Connell, Calgary Stampede CEO. “We are looking at how to engage the community and set up programs that appeal to everyone. We have a number of new exciting initiatives planned for the community in 2017 and we look forward to sharing these plans starting this afternoon with an exciting announcement about the Parade.”

The Stampede is a reflection of our community and we work hard to meet and exceed expectations. If you’re interested, we invite you to read our detailed financial statements and learn more about how we give back to the community in our annual Report to the Community.

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2017 Calgary Stampede Canvas Auction: Perspectives from a Newbie

Four months before guests gather to watch the chuckwagons race at the Calgary Stampede, potential sponsors for the chuckwagon canvases gather on Stampede Park to place their bids. The 2017 Canvas Auction, presented by GMC, took place Thursday, March 23 and set the stage for the always long-awaited and much-anticipated GMC Rangeland Derby. As a born and raised Calgarian, I’ve been to the races plenty of times, but seeing the other side of it at the Canvas Auction put a whole new perspective on the build-up to, and community pride of, the drivers and support for the sport.

Left to Right: Princess Brittany Lloyd, Queen Meagan Peters, Indian Princess Savannah Sparvier, Princess Lizzie Ryman

Left to Right: 2017 Stampede Princess Brittany Lloyd, Queen Meagan Peters, Indian Princess Savanna Sparvier, Princess Lizzie Ryman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As folks gathered on Stampede Park, hearty handshakes were given between bidders and drivers, while naturally curious fans gathered in a separate viewing area to see how it would all play out. In the Boyce Theatre where the action was happening, drivers were led onto the stage one-by-one by the 2017 Stampede Royalty; Indian Princess, Savanna Sparvier, Stampede Queen, Meagan Peters, and Stampede Princess’ Brittany Lloyd and Lizzie Ryman. The drivers were put under the spotlight, with the highest bidder winning the right to sponsor the driver and have their brand advertised on the canvas of the particular sponsored wagon. Continue reading

Stampede’s Annual General Meeting has positive outlook for 2017

“I am happy to tell you that the organization is in a solid financial position—yes even after a very rainy Stampede,” Warren Connell, chief executive officer of the Calgary Stampede, shared at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Stampede Park, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Almost 1,000 shareholders were in attendance at the meeting and listened as Connell recapped highlights from 2016 and insight into 2017 and beyond.

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Connell continued by sharing, “Calgary is in the midst of a transformation. Culturally, the city has changed tremendously over the past decade, so to remain relevant the Stampede’s brand values need to continue to align with the values of Calgarians and Albertans. We need to continue to be out in our community listening and reacting to what our community has to say,” he stated as he spoke to the Stampede’s 2016-2018 Strategic Plan.

Connell pointed to how the Stampede tried something new during the 2016 Stampede by providing free admission on the final Sunday, as well as special $5 admission prices at pop-up events earlier in the week. Connell also alluded to similar surprises for Stampede 2017, to be announced to the public in the coming months. Continue reading

Cute animals & Amazing demonstrations at this year’s Aggie Days

Do you know what a Romney, Hampshire or a Dorper is?

These are just a few of the different breeds of sheep that will be shown at Aggie Days Saturday, April 8 – Sunday, April 9 in the Agrium Western Event Centre located on Stampede Park. Admission is FREE!

Live sheep, baby lambs, sheep shearing, spinners & weavers and Clock, Stock and Barrel – our exhilarating stock dog competition – will all be there!

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn / Calgary Stampede

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My farewell from the past two great years as stampede president

This is a bittersweet moment for me as this will be my final blog as Stampede president. It’s impossible to express just how much it has meant to me to lead this organization for two years after being a volunteer for 31 years.

When you are a part of something for that long, it becomes a part of you.cs-posters-1986-01

The 1986 Calgary Stampede poster – the year I began volunteering

One of the greatest gifts from being involved with the Stampede is working with the incredible Stampede team— including 2,300 volunteers and 1,200 year-round employees. The partnership between volunteers and employees is unique and invaluable and it is only because of that partnership that the Stampede is truly able to deliver on its promise to the community.

I am proud to be part of the team that conceived and launched our 2016-2018 Strategic Plan. This plan expands on the Stampede’s aspirations to Align with our Community, Connect through our Brand Promise, Support Youth Achievement in our Community, Build our Vision and Build our Team.

Strategic Plan.JPGRead the 2016-2018 Strategic Plan here!

The Stampede Team continues to work day in and day out to bring to our community exceptional experiences, expanded urban and rural programming, sought-after learning experiences and a world-class, year-round gathering place.

Over the past two years, we’ve seen Stampede grow and evolve and certainly we managed to have had a little fun along the way!

One highlight for me has been choosing the parade marshals and the poster artists.

2016 Stampede Poster

The 2016 Stampede Poster

In 2015, native Calgarian and two-time gold medalist bobsledder Kaillie Humphreys led the Parade. Kaillie is an international role model, and in addition to her sports prowess, she’s an ambassador for the I’ve been bullied campaign and Right to Play.

We were fortunate to have renowned artist Oleg Stravrowsky create the 2015 poster artwork, which accurately depicts the thundering and thrilling chuckwagon races.

2015 was a hard act to follow – so I was delighted when Jann Arden and Paul Brandt came on board as our 2016 parade marshals in honour of the Year of Music in Calgary.  Both have done an excellent job representing Calgary and Canada on a national and international stage with their talent and exemplary citizenship.

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Jann Adren and Paul Brandt: 2016 Parade Marshals

Award-winning local artist Michelle Grant created our beautiful 2016 poster, Born to Buck, highlighting our Stampede Ranch, home to 600 head of some of the finest rough stock in the country.

The past two years have not been without challenges:  we’ve faced a struggling economy and a very volatile Mother Nature. But in the face of these challenges, I’ve watched the Stampede team step up with ingenuity, enthusiasm and unflagging optimism. By being flexible and innovative, we managed to turn those challenges into opportunities to learn, evolve and succeed. I am incredibly proud of each and every member of our Team.

I thank everyone for their support on this journey—it’s been my great honor to serve as Stampede president & chairman of the board and I look forward to continued involvement with the Calgary Stampede and to providing my full support to incoming president Dave Sibbald as he very ably takes over the reins of this fantastic organization.

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Warren Connell, Stampede chief executive officer, Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, his daughter Ella-Grace, and me in the Agricultural Discovery Zone during Stampede 2016

The biggest advancement in the agriculture/agri-food industry? Industry leaders share their thoughts

2017 marks Canada’s 150th birthday! To celebrate this occasion the International Agriculture and Agri-food Committee of the Calgary Stampede (IAC) has created the IAC Canada 150 Reflections Project. We have asked industry leaders who offer a wealth of experience and insights across a broad range of industries to share their thoughts and perspectives on what has been the biggest advancement in the agriculture/agri-food industry.

From major restaurant chains to local producers, here are some of those reflections.

David Farran, President – Eau Claire Distillery         

For many years, agriculture has been viewed as a commodity. The national quota and marketing systems disconnected the consumer from the farmer. In recent years, with the demise of the wheat board and the beginnings of brand development such as ‘Alberta beef’ or ‘Alberta Barley’, we can start to differentiate quality, develop a sense of Alberta ‘terroir’ and we can market ourselves as world class producers. This is good for the relationship between the producer and the consumer, where consumers can trust the value chain and farmers can start to see higher prices by developing targeted, niche products. The greatest advance for agriculture in recent years is a new free market – a driver of innovation.

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A HORSE-LOVER’S GUIDE TO BERLIN

As the saying goes, “The dog may be man’s best friend, but the horse wrote history.” This week we were fortunate to be in a city rich in history and took it upon ourselves to find horse-related attractions in Berlin, Germany.

Perhaps the most famous monument in Berlin is the Brandenburg Gate. Atop the gate is a Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses and driven by the goddess Eirene, who is the goddess of peace. While the Gate has played different political roles in German history, it now symbolizes freedom and the desire to unify the city of Berlin. Our Indian Village Princess, Savannah Sparvier, did a traditional dance in front of the gate and we too, wanted to take part. So, we did an impromptu line dance to Nitty Gritty Dirtband’s “Cadillac Ranch” to honour both cultures’ connection with horses. We had so fun line dancing and gathered a big crowd taking photos and cheering us on!

ITB Berlin

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Making history: Calgary Stampede celebrates a rodeo icon for International Women’s Day

Today, Wednesday, March 8, 2017 celebrates International Women’s Day, a day that honours the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the globe. The Calgary Stampede has an illustrious history of showcasing the outstanding talent of women in western performances. At a time when women were refused the right to vote, western performance and rodeo stars such as Bertha Blancett and Flores LaDue were achieving success and fame as part of the first Calgary Stampede. For more about the exploits of these pioneer cowgirls, see last year’s blog post for International Women’s Day here.

Through the years, hundreds of women have performed in the Stampede Rodeo, and adding to this proud tradition is Mary Burger, a high-speed barrel-racing grandma from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. For over 40 years Mary has been participating in barrel racing events, winning a slew of titles and victories on her way to being ranked number one in the world in barrel racing. At 67 years young, Mary dropped jaws and wowed fans as she achieved a clean sweep in the barrel racing competition at the 2016 Calgary Stampede.  Placing first in the competition for a remarkable four consecutive days, Mary would go on to win the event on Championship Sunday adding another trophy to what one can only imagine is an already cluttered mantle.

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Mary Burger and her horse Mo picking up some speed!

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Inside the Royalty’s Equestrian Program with Janelle Phillips

Hi everyone! Queen Meagan here!

Today I am going to give you the inside scoop on our Equestrian Program with the expertise of our very own equestrian committee member, Janelle Phillips! Janelle was part of the 2009 Royal Trio as a Princess. Since then, she has been passionate about Stampede, our horses and our equestrian program. She describes how “Once the Calgary Stampede gets their hooks in you, it’s hard not to be a part of it.” And that I can definitely agree with!

Janelle with an equine friend

Janelle with an equine friend

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Meet the rookies!

Introducing Dustin Gorst and Cody Ridsdale; both chuckwagon drivers will be competing for the very first time in Calgary this Stampede 2017.

Dustin Gorst

For years he has raced the Calgary Stampede track; holding steady until the klaxon blared, then leaping fearlessly onto the back of an already flying, high-powered thoroughbred.

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As an outrider, Dustin Gorst is a veteran competitor at the Stampede. He has also driven the track as the demonstration driver. But for the first time in 2017, Gorst will be among the 36 drivers guiding their thundering teams around the track in pursuit of the championship and a share of more than $1.15 million in prize money. It is a sport that’s in his blood. Continue reading

Calgary Stampede History Moments Presents: Bert Smith in Memoriam

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Noted western artist Bert Smith passed away on February 17, 2017. Smith’s artwork captures the real feel of the western way of life.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Many of Bert Smith’s paintings and sketches illuminate the book Just About Nothing, which was written by Bert Sheppard, the long-time OH Ranch manager and later owner. Sheppard included a passage about Smith:

“Bert was born at Mutrie Saskatchewan on Feb. 24, 1929, and went to school at Philomath. At an early age he became interested in photography, and later took a correspondence course in art from Washington D.C. Bert worked as a commercial artist in Montreal for one and a half years. He then did art work for Ken Coppock who was secretary for the Western Stock Growers Association, and manager of their ranch supplies department. It was there that I met Bert Smith. On New Year’s Day he arrived at the TL (connected) Ranch to spend three days visit, and stayed three years. It was quite apparent that he had exceptional ability as an artist and photographer. To gain additional ranch experience he was at Joe Bew’s [sic] Y Cross Ranch, The Chattaway Bar S Ranch and the Blades [sic] Rocker P [sic]. It was there while helping to move a large herd of cattle to summer range that he suffered an aneurysm, which ended his art career. He retired to Longview where he now resides. He spends a good deal of his time tutoring the small fry in the preliminary stages of art.”[1] Continue reading

The passion behind princessesing

In our family, the passenger seat of my Grandpa’s red Chevy pickup proved to be a beautifully unique classroom for my unscripted education. Somehow every tool that you could ever need was handily tucked in the back of that truck.

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As we drove along slowly checking fences, cows, horses and the growing hay, I have come to value more than just the view. My role as “gate girl” was pretty important to me, and while I used to think that being someone’s right hand man was a real thing, I did my best to always position myself on my Grandpa’s right hand side. Seriously. I wouldn’t let anyone else stand in my spot.

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We grew some pretty wonderful values on our farm, and these lessons have extended far beyond that for me. They are my heritage. Raised surrounded by western values, I have learned that short cuts don’t work, but ingenuity can. Bailer twine is the single most functional item ever made. The electric fence is always on. Take your boots off on the porch before entering the house. And finally, that a good dog is better than some people.

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Big Rides for Big Money in San Antonio

When it is freezing and snowing in Calgary, having a rodeo would not be the first thing that might come to mind, but for the Stampede bucking horses rodeo competition is in full swing. The all-star team of bucking horses made their way down to San Antonio and for the past 20 days they have been hotter than mid-July.

The highlight ride of the event for the Stampede came in the finals, when reigning World Champion Bareback Rider, Tim O’Connell, matched up with veteran stallion Special Delivery for a 91 point score in the final performance.

Special Delivery at the Calgary Stampede

Special Delivery at the Calgary Stampede

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