‘Til Next Time!

Jovita: It has been diagnosed, I have Stampede Lag. It is like jet lag, only from not sleeping at the Stampede and then being thrown back into the real world Monday morning. But would I trade one minute of the Stampede I experienced for sleep? Never. The ten days of early mornings, late nights, and hot afternoons Arielle and I got to participate in can never be replaced. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the 100 year anniversary of the Stampede, let alone as an Ultimate Intern!

I could gush all day about all the events we got to go to, but you have already read those blog posts. Instead I will express my immense gratitude at being able to work with the Stampede and meet the staff and volunteers. Incredible patrons aside, the Stampede staff and volunteers put on the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth with hard work, pride, and hospitality and have blown everyone away with the centennial celebration. Happy Birthday Calgary Stampede, and thanks for the memories.

 

Arielle: I’m craving mini donuts, crazy rides, spectacular shows and two-stepping. But most of all I’m craving the people. Now that I am back to the real world, I have been asked many times what my favorite was at the Stampede. Easy – the people I’ve met.

I have fallen in love with Calgary and the Calgary Stampede all over again because of the dedication, energy and graciousness I have witnessed from volunteers, employees, and fellow Stampeders. Being present during all 10 days of the Calgary Stampede, let alone being backstage or front of the line for most of it, has been one of the most amazing things anyone can experience. I feel (oh so ridiculously) blessed to have been a part of this and am grateful to those who joined me in my adventures online. I hope you had a blast. Until next year. Xo.

 

Read our adventures here!

Adrenaline Addictions & a Flying Paul Brant

Arielle: I don’t like saying no to new adventures. Meaning, I was going to go on the two largest rides at the Stampede: the Slingshot and Skyscraper.

 

I went on these two rides on the last day. I had a hard time convincing someone to come on with me for the past nine days – including my usually brave teammate, Jovita. The Slingshot was great (in the video I am beaming and cheering, while my friend beside me is hanging on for dear life, eyes squeezed closed). The Skyscraper is a whole ’nother story. It’s the tallest ride on the grounds, spinning you from ground to sky, high above the city at 70kmph.

 

It’s the waiting that kills you. You have people behind you and in front of you – all joining in on your panic, discussing the scenarios of dying on the ride. I couldn’t help but ask the gentleman working there: “How many people have died on this ride?” He replied, unsure, “Zero in twelve years.” I couldn’t help but think what happened thirteen years ago…

 

Because I cannot explain the intensity of my fear, here’s a play-by-play of my experience:
   I changed my mind – I want off.
   I can’t get out.
   Oh no, we are goin…,
   Stop the ride!
   Hey, this is fun!
   This is going to be okay!
   That is downtown UPSIDE-DOWN.
   Oh no, we are stopping.
   Please stop swaying.
   I’m gonna die.
   Tell my family I love them.
   Get me off of this.
   I regret this decision.
   They are going to put us backwards.
   No!
   No, too fast!
   No!
   Slowing down – thank goodness!
   I’m alive!

 

Yes, I was shaken to the core after this ride, but because I live for this kind of adrenaline, I can assure you I will be on it again next year!

 

Jovita: Even though I had been dying to see Paul Brandt in the Grandstand show since the first day of Stampede, due to our busy schedule I saw the last possible show on Sunday.

 

The show was preceded by the Rangeland Derby trophy presentation and a special white hat ceremony for the young international performers participating. The Young Canadians were (as usual) flawless, showing off their impersonating talents; with my favourite part of the show: a Patsy Klein, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain and Taylor Swift tribute.

 

Paul made a high-flying entrance, but he wasn’t the only one. Hoop dancer, Dallas Arcand, flew in on a golden-lit eagle, landing on the stage with poise and tackling a intricate hoop dance. There was a giant birthday cake and collective Happy Birthday chorus paired with the firework show. Stampede President Mike Casey came on stage after to officially close the Stampede, and I found myself wondering where all ten days had gone!

Two Guys & Their Guitars

Arielle: I’ll admit it – I had that “Garth Guilt” that Mike Morrison has been talking about. I kept my ticket a secret until we were headed to the concert, tiptoeing that we were lucky enough to see Garth Brooks perform. It took every bone in my body to not give up my ticket to friends and family that were dying to see him.

 

When we got there I realized I had goosebumps! The noise in that Saddledome was deafening, the energy electric. To even be a part of that crowd before Garth performed was an experience in itself.

 

Being a hopeless romantic, my favourite part was when Garth’s wife, Trisha Yearwood, surprised us by coming onto the stage to perform with Garth. The crowd was just as welcoming to Trisha as they were for Garth – shaking the Saddledome with cheers. The way Garth and Trisha looked at each other was nothing short of romance – there’s no way that kind of love can be staged. After a few songs and a big smooch, Trisha left to be encored right back, singing “She’s in love with a boy” (to be stuck in my head the entire next day, singing it to strangers when telling them about my experience).

 

Garth was good-natured about the attention that Trisha got from the crowd. Saying: “Just to remind you: you’re at a Garth Brooks concert tonight!” as well as, “I get called Mr. Yearwood back at home”.

 

Our friend, Calgary Stampede President, Mike Casey came onto stage and presented both Garth and Trisha with beautiful Centennial belt buckles. Trisha did not miss a beat – and after some help from Garth – put the buckle on her belt in front of the roaring crowd (a lesson I’m assuming she learned from last year, when Calgarians were disappointed when Will and Kate did not put on their white hats straight away).

 

Other highlights of the concert?

  • How Garth kept basking in the love the crowd gave him. He was grateful and humble, displaying happiness through and through to be up there performing for us.
  • Garth saying he doesn’t sing the third verse of “Friends in Low Places” anymore. The crowd had no problem belting it out for him.
  • Along with his band, Garth ensuring that the entire crowd was involved. He performed at every edge of the stage possible: singing behind, to the side, and at the front.
  • The sweat Garth kept throwing off his face. The cameras captured it perfectly so that the crowd could see the true intensity of his performance.
  • The second encore. After the first encore finished, we just hadn’t had enough. All the lights went back on, but the crowd was still going wild, coaxing Garth back onto stage for a third time.

The next day my ears hurt from the noise, my mouth hurt from smiling, and my voice hurt from screaming. That’s confirmation in itself that Garth Brooks was perfect.

 

 

Jovita: I’ve been looking forward to Brad Paisley’s concert for ages. Long before I won the Ultimate Intern contest, I had purchased tickets to see him perform. The wait was worth it. If I thought nothing could top Garth Brooks, I was wrong. (This statement might get me in trouble with some of the Garth fans, but for me, Brad is in a whole different category).

 

The show started with light shows blasting through screens and some of the best effects I have ever seen. There were many cheers when Kimberly Perry from The Band Perry came to accompany on “Whiskey Lullaby” and even more when a digital Carrie Underwood appeared to sing “Remind Me”. The tour lived up to its’ name, “Virtual Reality”.

 

Brad’s skill on the guitar is something I have never witnessed before, with him running through the crowd while not missing a chord. He was deft at changing guitars almost every song without ever knocking his cowboy hat off. Before the encore, Brad exited the stage by jumping into a pool after the tune “Water”. There was a quick meet and greet. I was too smitten to say anything more than “Hi!”, but got a photo out of it!

Chatting with Cops, Ziplining with the Famous, Bare Bottom Surfing & Cricket Pizza

Calgary Police Services

Jovita: We met up with the Calgary Police Services to explore the Stampede grounds together, and get a feel for what it’s like to work at the Calgary Stampede. The officers were on duty in the Indian Village so we accompanied them there. We donned Indian Princess hats and stared in awe at all the colourful outfits. A few of the tipis were open for inspection and we wandered around with our escorts until we reached the CPS tipi. It came complete with unique crest and the promise of an invite to the Indian Village.

 

Arielle: I asked one of the officers about his experience as a Policeman at the Calgary Stampede. He told me that about five years ago he considered retiring as a cop. And then he moved to Calgary. He explained to me how Calgary is different. Here, cops are a part of the Calgary community; they are appreciated and trusted. As a cop, wearing a cowboy hat around the city is a great symbol of this alliance. He loves the Calgary Stampede and working at it. It’s a different pace for him – filled with high excitement and welcoming people.

All this love, respect, and appreciation? This is exactly why I love my city.

 

Zipline

Arielle: I didn’t think I was scared of heights, but when you are 118 feet above crowds of people about to Zipline over them, I am sure you would panic too. The first time we ziplined was with Mayor Nenshi and Stampede President, Mike Casey, the second time with America’s Next Top Model, Sophie Sumners. Climbing the stairs was a workout in itself, terrifying me more and more as I climbed up each new set of scaffolding. Both times it took some convincing for me to go down (the first time, a shove), while Jovita took the ziplining with ease, even going upside-down.

 

(Note: There’s a whole lotta of fear behind those smiles.)

 

FlowRider

Jovita: Arielle and I managed to find time on Saturday to take a quick trip to the beach! It wasn’t very far away, just the beach located in the BMO center, complete with oversized sandcastle and the Flowrider, an indoor surfing machine. We got to have the first ride of the day, which was nice because there wasn’t a lot of fans at first to watch our failed rookie attempts at staying upright on the board. By about the fourth time, I seemed to get the hang of it and managed to do some weaving.

 

 

I was feeling pretty good about myself until Dan the demonstrator took over and was spinning around in the water, jumping on the top of the half pipe and riding up and down the wave with ease. Even though I fell a lot, I managed to make most of them as graceful as possible while sheets of water are rushing at you. Arielle was not so lucky. Every fall seemed to get more ridiculous than the last, with the grand finale being Arielle’s bare bottom accidently exposed to the cheering crowd.

 

Cricket Pizza

Arielle: On Twitter last Saturday, I asked my followers to give me some Stampede dares. One of the few dares that did not have serious repercussions was to eat Cricket Pizza. Now last Saturday, I was game for it. But after an entire week of thinking about the creepy crawlers, I had the jitters.

 

The worst part? Seeing the crickets face-to-face. I only have two words: absolutely horrifying. They appeared to be looking at me in their dead state. One even seemed to be praying before it had been cooked.

 

My first bite into the pizza wasn’t bad, I felt confident! Until I had felt a weird crunch. The cricket tasted like sunflower seeds (needless to say: I don’t like sunflower seeds anymore). After some minor panicking, I finished a good portion of the pizza. I offered it to random strangers… got some weird looks and a few laughs but they wouldn’t try it. I guess their moms told them to never accept cricket pizza from strangers.

 

A word of advice: if you’re gonna eat cricket pizza, be prepared for cricket legs in your teeth <<shudder>>. Reginald – thank you for the dare – it might have been terrible, but a great adventure.

Farming Amongst the Skyscrapers

BMO kids day started with going to the pancake breakfast and showing off her newly acquired flapjack talents (thank you Stampede Caravan Committee!). Volunteers from the Stampede and BMO alike flocked to the stations and the families were fed and watered. Jovita met the BMO Junior Reporters, who were big celebrities at the breakfast. They were being interviewed by TV stations, had a personal camera man who followed them around, and even got a special balloon hat from the clown (jealous!). There could not have been a more worthy pair in the crowd, their smiles were infectious.

 

At lunch time on kid’s day, we went to collect fresh milk for the cookies in our RV (yum!).            We met Debbie Lee, who showed us the new Alberta Milk display, which has a practice milking machine! We both beat the posted farmer’s time (but may have a had a helping hand from Debbie). Now that we had earned our milking stripes, it was time to try it out on Holstein Delilah. We brought her outside so that the kids could watch as Jovita struggled and Arielle excelled in the hand milking portion. After this we deftly attached the machine and Debbie explained the pasteurization process to the kids. Even though right after we were done Delilah decided to poop on our boots, we both managed to give her some love in the form of nose kisses.

 

We spent the afternoon hanging out at the Barns with the Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon Committee. Walking through the Shed Rows was nothing short of surreal. The horses were strong, beautiful, and spirited. Arielle felt like she was in the movie Seabiscuit.

(Arielle: I’m not gonna lie – I’m okay with cows, but there’s something about horses that terrify me. I’m pretty sure this one wanted to eat me.)

 

 

 

If you’ve been to the Stampede this past week, you will understand how uncomfortable we were from the heat at times. Well, thank the lucky stars, we found some AC – followed by loud cheering from the two of us.

Flippin’ Flapjacks and Buckin’ Bulls

Arielle: We woke up to sunshine & the anticipation of once again meeting the Calgary Stampede Caravan Committee (we met them at the Saddle Up event, and knew the type of energy we were to be surrounded by).

 

First up, we were sent to the grills. Those who know me know that I am a terrible cook (I’m working on it…). But I wanted to flip some pancakes, so I did not reveal my secret to the Caravan committee. Turned out, I am quite the flipper and I can make some pretty cute Mickey Mouse pancakes. There were some mishaps: I burnt a few batches of pancakes because I was busy tweeting or chatting with the crowd. Also, a friendly team member “accidently” spilt some pancake batter on my feet.

 

I didn’t want to get all cheesy on you here, but these are the type of people that keep me believing in the human race. There is no lack of enthusiasm and positivity from this team, coupled with efficiency. Keeping in mind this is all volunteer work, their commitment has left approximately a hundred thousand people with full stomachs and a smile on their face.

 

A hundred thousand breakfasts means:

  • 200,000 pancakes (that’s enough batter to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool!)
  • 5 tons of pancake mix
  • 2 tons of sausage patties
  • 110,000 juice boxes and,
  • 2,000 litres of maple syrup.

 

And their breakfasts? Other than my burnt pancakes, they were unreal.

Hats off to everyone there: including Debbie Flanagan, Helen Clease, Keith Waldron, & Kevin Klein for spreading the love in our city! Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

Jovita:

In the afternoon it was time for bulls and blood, dust and mud! We had excellent infield tickets, the closest we have ever been to the chutes! You can practically see the sweat on the cowboy’s foreheads. Arielle got a much needed lesson from me about the rules and regulations of the rodeo events, she looked pretty confused at first. Our favourite event by far is the wild pony races, the little guys have so much heart and hang on for dear life even when they are being dragged around the entire enclosure. Aaron Roy gave a performance in the bullriding event that left the whole crowd craning their necks to see the 8-second ride and a standing ovation on his victory lap.

 

2012 Ultimate Interns – What a start!

Hi from your Calgary Stampede Ultimate Interns! We are all moved into our RV – and they were not kidding, it is in the heart of the midway! It is a hop, skip, and a jump away from many places! It’s the perfect base for us these next 10 days and it already feels like home.

 

Last night at Sneak-a-Peek, ENMAX Corral show Tails opened. The narrations were powerful. One narrator was the talented Tom Jackson, whose rich voice is enough to send shivers down your spine and make you reminisce about those days in the 90’s when you watched North of 60. Animals were incorporated into the play – birds, horses, and even a buffalo! Who knew you could strap a saddle to a buffalo and ride him around a ring? Every time he (she?) came near the edge of the enclosure, Jovita leaned wayyy back – being so close to such a powerful animal was thrilling.

 

This morning we were up bright and early as the Official Parade Tweeters!

 

It was our first live tweeting experience for the Stampede this year, and we had the best seats in the house. We were eyes in the sky on the Castlewood TweetSeats, complete with security guards (compliments of the Calgary Fire Department)!

 

We handed out white centennial bells, encouraging noise and excitement for the parade. The sunshine, crowd, floats, and bands made our morning perfect. Our top 5 favourite things participating in the parade included:

  • The Stampede royalty alumni – you ladies still have it!
  • The standing ovation and loudest of cheers for the Canadian Forces.
  • The colourful native outfits and headdresses.
  • Ian Tyson cowboy saluting us (Yahoo!).
  • The talented marching bands from all over the world.

What are we up to tonight? We can’t tell you… yet. All we can say is that we are really excited. Stay tuned!

If you see us roaming around the grounds, please say hi! We are excited to meet more amazing people these next 9 days! To capture our adventures, follow us on Twitter (@arielleland & @jovitabyzitter).