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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Ty Pozzobon – Farewell to a champion and friend

The Calgary Stampede, along with the rest of the rodeo community, is saddened by the loss of Ty Pozzobon.

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Ty will be fondly remembered as a genuine man and a true ambassador for the sport.  Champions like Ty are few and far between and the Stampede was always grateful to have him compete in our arena.

As a young bull rider it was no secret that Ty was going to be an accomplished competitor but what he will be remembered for is his infectious smile and his ability to make everyone around him feel like an old friend. Many of us around the Stampede had the opportunity to become friends with Ty and he was always ready with a firm hand shake and a huge smile. There was no question he was a humble and grounded champion. He made friends with as many people as he possibly could and genuinely cared about you no matter who you were or where you came from. Pages and pages could be written on Ty for all of the great things that he has done at such a young age but the resounding theme will be that he was an amazing man with a huge heart who was loved by many. The rodeo community has lost a champion. You will hear that line many times in the coming days and months and even years but we haven’t just lost a champion, we have lost a friend and a family member.

We extend our sincerest condolences to the Pozzobon family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

Greatest of the Great in Las Vegas

This year’s National Finals Rodeo (NFR) will go down in the history books as the greatest all time showing for Canada at the world’s richest rodeo and the Calgary Stampede was right there to be a part of it. It is very fitting that we chose to theme our Calgary Stampede booth at the Las Vegas Convention Centre Cowboy Christmas the “Greatest of the Greats” this year because that is truly what was showcased from start to finish at the NFR this December.

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If you had a chance to get down to the promotional booth, you would have noticed the walls decorated with all the great things Stampede has to offer. On the wall were photos of incredible Stampede competitors like Sage Kimzey, Mary Burger and Zeke Thurston, as well as some of our great Stampede bucking horses. As the week unfolded some of our featured athletes showed the world why they are the greatest of the great. Mary Burger came into the week as the all-time money earning Barrel Racer and left Las Vegas with the distinguished title of oldest-ever competitor at the NFR along with a brand new gold buckle and the crown of World Champion to go along with her other major wins in Houston and the Calgary Stampede.

Mary Burger at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Mary Burger at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Sage Kimzey may not have won this year’s Stampede Bull Riding title but he has hoisted that bronze trophy on our stage in the past and also knows how to win World Championships. Sage stayed ahead of his field of tough competitors to claim his third consecutive World Title; the same number of years that he has been a professional bull rider.

Sage Kimzey at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Sage Kimzey at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Last, but certainly not least, on the list of all-time great champions of the Calgary Stampede was Zeke Thurston from Big Valley, Alberta. Not only is Zeke the two-time and reigning Calgary Stampede Champion Saddle Bronc rider, he is now the newly crowned World Champion in the event. Zeke is a proud Canadian and second-generation National Finals qualifier who has been carving out his own page in rodeo history with an impressive resume that includes a Rodeo Houston title, two Calgary Stampede titles, a National Finals Rodeo title and  now a World Championship. We are looking forward to seeing all three of these ‘Greats’ back at Stampede in 2017!

Zeke Thurston at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Zeke Thurston at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

But the story of Canadian success at the NFR doesn’t stop there. Of the eight Canadians competing at this year’s NFR, five are now qualified for an invitation to the 2017 Calgary Stampede. Airdrie’s Jake Vold, three-time and reigning Canadian Champion Bareback Rider, finished second in the NFR and Reserve World Champion. Jake Watson of Hudson Hope, British Columbia, finished the NFR in second place and fifth overall in the World Standings. Clay Elliot, 2016 Canadian Champion Saddle Bronc Rider, calls Nanton, Alberta, home. He finished ninth overall in Las Vegas, with Orin Larsen the Bareback Rider from Inglis, Manitoba, ending his season sitting third in the World Standings.

Along with the success of our future Stampede competitors, some other great Canadian competitors were breaking records in the Team Roping event. Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler became the first all-Canadian team of ropers to ever qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. Not only did they qualify but they dominated the field and on day 10 were crowned the 2016 World Champion Team Ropers, which, as you can guess, also went down in the record books. This is an amazing accomplishment for the Alberta cowboys and a proud moment for rodeo in Canada. Kolton Schmidt from Barrhead, Alberta, also competed in this year’s NFR Team Roping but came up short. Kolton and his great horse Badger did however take home the title of Heading Horse of the Year in the PRCA.

That brings us to our final piece of the Canadian contingent at this year’s NFR: the bucking stock. The Stampede was honored this year to have 13 horses and two bulls selected to compete at the National Finals Rodeo. All in all, it was a great showing, with more than $125,000USD won by cowboys on Stampede stock, and over a quarter of a million dollars total on Canadian bucking stock. We are extremely proud to say when the dust settled, it was an NFR rookie with the CS brand that took home the title of Top Bareback Horse of the NFR. X-9 Xplosive Skies is a descendant of the legendary Grated Coconut and is performing true to her lineage. Being recognized as the best bucking horse is no easy feat but this young mare has incredible skills and will be a force in the arena for many years to come.

One last Stampede notable is Pick-Up Man Gary Rempel who made a record-setting ninth appearance at the National Finals this year. Gary is an integral part of the Stampede team, keeping riders and livestock safe in the arena during all of the rodeos that Stampede is involved with. Congratulations to Gary on yet another successful year!

There were too many great success stories at this year’s Nationals Finals Rodeo to name them all but in the end it comes down to a great team that comes together to represent the Calgary Stampede as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

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Stampede bucking stock selected for the Canadian Finals Rodeo

It’s post-season time for rodeo competitors in Canada and the US, and the Calgary Stampede Ranch is busy getting a large roster of our four-legged athletes ready for the championships to come.

The first of two major rodeo championships this winter is the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, November 9-13. This is where the top rodeo competitors will face off against the top stock in North America for a chance to be crowned Canada’s National Champion in rodeo. Not only will competitors have an opportunity to win a national title, but their placement at the CFR could secure them a much-coveted invitation to compete at next year’s Calgary Stampede.

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh

Ranch Manager Tyler Kraft and his team work tirelessly to ensure rodeos from Ponoka, Alberta to San Antonio, Texas have the best bucking stock that the Calgary Stampede has to offer. And this year, that hard work and the quality of our horses and bulls were recognized in a couple of very special ways by the competitors of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association. First, the Calgary Stampede was selected as the CPRA’s 2016 Stock Contractor of the year. Then the competitors selected 41 Calgary Stampede animals to compete at the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

Stampede bucking horse, Special Delivery

Stampede bucking horse, Special Delivery

Leading the pack into Edmonton this November will be some true Stampede greats like reserve world champion bareback horse Special Delivery; two-time horse of the Calgary Stampede, Tiger Warrior; multi-NFR and CFR qualifier Stampede Warrior; and perennial favourite Mad Money. The veteran squad is also taking along a few rookies, including You See Me who is only in his first full year of professional competition and has already put up some impressive numbers. Along with the horses five Stampede bucking bulls have also been selected.

Make sure you get your tickets to the CFR because it`s next week and the Stampede’s stars will be rolling into Edmonton to put on a show! Perhaps you’ll see some of these bucking stars at the Calgary Stampede next July. You can get your tickets now!

The full roster selected for the Canadian Finals Rodeo:

Saddle Bronc
L-2 Labeled Money
M-2 Mad Money
S-3 Simply Marvellous
S-66 Stampede Warrior
S-91 Shoshone Mountain
T-38 Timely Delivery
T-65 Tiger Warrior
U-7 Umber Bubbles
U-8 Uvid Bubbles
W-1 Weekend Departure
W-16 Wild Cherry
W-46 Waning Moon
W-7 Wiggle Lizard
W-74 Weary Joke

Bareback
Y-5 You See Me
X-9 Xplosive Skies
X-89 Xavier Joan
X-40 Xceptional Margarita
X-2 Xrated Dancer
W-84 Waskasoo Soot
W-34 Wanaka Rocket
W-32 Walleye Rocket
T-29 Trail Dust
T-19 Tootsie Roll
T-17 Twin Cherry
S-83 Special Delivery
S-77 Soap Bubbles
S-65 Shadow Warrior
R-82 Reckless Margie
P-65 Princess Warrior

Novice Saddle Bronc and Bareback
L-112 Labyrinth
N-57 Needs Ajax
R-62 Redon Acres
S-15 Sargeant Whitney
U-96 Unit Doctor
Y-55 Youngstown Rocket

Bull Riding
003 Wranglers Extreme
105 Uptown Funk
126 Jukebox Hero
193 Compton Bound
201 Night Moves

 

Championship Fall For Stampede Stock

Another rodeo season has come to an end for the Calgary Stampede stock. If this were hockey, we would say the team is heading into the post-season with only the major championships left to go. For the horses and bulls of the Calgary Stampede rodeo string, this past couple of months has been a road swing with multiple wins.

 

Stampede Rodeo Stock

Jake Vold Rides Xplosive Skies to the win in Hermiston

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Top rodeo competitors earn invitations to the 2017 Calgary Stampede

With the end of the 2016 Canadian Pro Rodeo Wrangler Tour, comes the beginning of great things at the 2017 Calgary Stampede. The tour wrapped up this past weekend in Armstrong, BC with five of the top competitors earning themselves an invitation to next year’s rodeo in Calgary. Each year at the end of the Wrangler tour, we invite the winners in Bareback, Saddle Bronc, Steer Wrestling, Tie Down and Bull Riding to join us at the Stampede the following season.

Jake Vold riding L-36 Licorice Baby

Jake Vold riding L-36 Licorice Baby

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Calgary Stampede Novice Tour names 2016 Champions

It has been a long hard season for the veterans of rodeo, and with only a month left in regular season action the push is on for their weary bodies to get to the Canadian and hopefully the National Finals Rodeo. But for some on the Canadian Pro Rodeo Tour this is a brand new experience. Traveling thousands of miles to rodeos all across the country is an exciting prospect and a grand adventure. The young men on the Calgary Stampede Novice Pro Tour have been put through their paces all summer and their hard work and commitment is paying off in these dog days of summer.

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Tanner Young – competing at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

This past weekend, Strathmore saw the conclusion of the Calgary Stampede sponsored Novice tour, which consists of seven rodeos across Alberta including the Calgary Stampede itself. Young competitors in the Novice Bareback, Saddle Bronc and Junior Steer Riding earn points through those rodeos towards a tour championship. The Calgary Stampede pays the entry fees for all of the young competitors at each rodeo and sponsors a bronze trophy and gold and silver championship buckle for each of the tour champions.
The goal is to promote the sport to young competitors in hopes that they will learn the ropes at a professional level and advance into the top ranks of rodeo as our future super stars. At the very least the Calgary Stampede loves to see young competitors being able to be a part of the sport and get to spend time with some of the greatest rodeo athletes on the circuit. The Stampede ranch also supplies young horses for most of the rodeos on the tour giving the young animals and young riders a chance to hone their skills.

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Kolby Wanchuck – competing at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

This past weekend saw some great competition with a few young but familiar faces taking home the bronze trophies. Kolby Wanchuck was the top Novice Saddle Bronc rider on the Tour and is looking great for advancing on to the Canadian Finals Rodeo. In the Bareback it was Tanner Young, who is looking to make a return trip to Edmonton in the fall. In the Steer Riding it was Carter Sahli who claimed the Tour Championship and by the expression on his face during his ride at the Stampede, you can tell he is a fierce competitor.

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Carter Sahli – competing at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede could not be happier for these young cowboys and is proud to be a part of building rodeo athletes for the next generation. The Stampede loves nothing more than to celebrate youth achievement – so to this year’s Calgary Stampede Novice Tour Champions goes a big tip of the hat!

 

Calgary Stampede Novice program recognizes first winner of 2016!

A young cowboy from Siksika Nation captured a big win with a great ride, and the crowd’s hearts with a great interview yesterday in the Tier 2 division Jr. Steer Riding.

Ian Big Tobacco was the first winner to be crowned on stage at this year’s Calgary Stampede with his first ever Stampede victory.

Ian

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Riding high in Houston with the Calgary Stampede

Canadian saddle bronc competitor Clay Elliott wasn’t too sure just how to react after his big Rodeo Houston win on one of the Calgary Stampede’s top horses.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” Elliott told local media. “I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with $50,000.”

The Nanton, Alberta cowboy scored the huge paycheck by winning a ride-off in the finals on board Stampede Warrior. It was one of many notable performances by Calgary Stampede horses at the Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston, Texas. In total, Stampede horses competed 84 times in front of 1.3 million attendees over the course of 21 performances. And they definitely caught the attention of the cowboys and the crowd, as they do year after year.

Stampede Warrior competing at Rodeo Houston in 2014

Stampede Warrior competing at Rodeo Houston in 2014

“They captured an incredible 14 go-round wins and more than $110,000 in prize money in Houston,” says Robert Wise, director of Western Events & Agriculture for the Calgary Stampede. The highest marked ride of the rodeo was given to Austin Foss, who scored 91 points on the Reserve World Champion, Calgary Stampede’s Special Delivery. Continue reading

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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Bucking horses blazing trails at winter rodeos

In the dead of winter when the snow is falling and the ice is growing thicker it is a reminder that it is hockey season. For us Calgarians, this hockey season has not been what we would have anticipated and the Flames have not delivered as many wins as we would like to see. But as all good Calgarians would do, we will continue to follow our Flames when they head out for their next road swing and hope for the best. What most Calgarians may not know, however, is that we have another team out on the road. We have another team playing a different sport in fact and playing it well. This may come as a bit of a surprise but rodeo season is in full swing and the Calgary Stampede bucking horse team is out on a road swing of their own, and unlike our beloved Flames the horses are racking up wins everywhere they go.

The bucking stock horse team started in Denver in early January at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, a 10-day rodeo which hands out nearly $500,000 in prize money. The horses came hard out of the gate so to speak and put up three go-round wins including a 90 point ride coming on the back of one of the heard matriarchs Reckless Margie. Her Second 90 in just a months’ time.

Reckless Margie bucking strong at the 2015 Calgary Stampede

Reckless Margie bucking strong at the 2015 Calgary Stampede

From there they made the trip to San Antonio Texas for the highest paying regular season rodeo in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Some of the team headed home and some new recruits were added for what you could call our All Star line up of bucking horses. The Sidney Crosby of the team, Special Delivery, is there waiting to perform later in the week along with 36 of his team mates and they are ready to put some in the win column.

Special Delivery delivering an exceptional performance during the 2015 Calgary Stampede

Special Delivery delivering an exceptional performance during the 2015 Calgary Stampede

With every good hockey team you need a couple enforcers or tough guys as some would call them. In the rodeo world, the cowboys call them an eliminator. Just like the Flames’ Michael Ferland, we have horses that are big, tough, fast and when they are out on the ice you will have your hands full. Trail Dust, a nine year old gelding, fits that description to a tee. Trail Dust has an impressive buck off record that can send shivers down the spine of a bareback rider. He is known for his power and his athleticism and some would say he is just hitting his prime. Along with almost 15 career buck-offs he has also put up some 90 point rides and has been selected for the Canadian and National Finals two times. Trail Dust was one of the first for our team to compete in San Antonio and it appears he has no plans of slowing down after carrying fellow Canadian Ty Taypotat to a go round win worth $2,300.

Trail Dust kicking high at the 2014 Calgary Stampede

Trail Dust kicking high at the 2014 Calgary Stampede

Along with Trail Dust, his other team mates have chipped in for four additional go round wins thus far including an outstanding 85 point ride for Taylor Price aboard Princess Warrior. Rookie horses Warped Logic and Until Kamloops also posted wins along with veteran horse Knight Rocket.

It is still early in the 17-day rodeo but you can bet the Calgary Stampede team will be out in full force over the course of the $1.4 million rodeo.

From San Antonio, the team will head to the RFDTV The American for a one-day $2 million rodeo and then over to Houston to finish their road swing at the NRG Stadium.

So if you are a proud Calgarian, don’t forget that the Flames aren’t the only team out on the road and be sure to cheer on the horses as they blaze a trail across Texas.

Labor Day Classic for Stampede Horses in Ellensburg

It may have been the Labor Day long weekend, but for the Calgary Stampede’s stock and crew it was business as usual out on the rodeo trail. The first stop of the weekend was the Armstrong Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede. I joined Barry McGrath, Catherine Laycraft, Tyler Kraft and the rest of our Calgary Stampede help to produce one of the top rodeos in Canada. The crowds were outstanding for each of the five nightly performances of rodeo, and the Calgary Stampede’s stock gave them a lot to cheer about.

This year’s Calgary Stampede Champion Bareback Rider, Clint Laye, matched up with a young horse named Wanaka Rocket for an 87.25 score and the win in the bareback riding. This win helps secure Clint’s chances at qualifying for his first National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

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