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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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