9 things I learned at Rodeo 101

Ok you guys, there are a lot of misconceptions about Rodeo out there. And I’m no expert. So this morning I made my way over to the Northern Lights Arena for Rodeo 101. You can catch the next edition tomorrow, Sunday, July 10 at 11 a.m. in the same location. Here’s a few things I’d like to share:

1. There’s a myth out there that the horses and bulls that compete in the rodeo live hard lives. In reality, these animals have it pretty good. For most the year, they live in a green pasture as a natural herd. They are well fed and card for. It’s important to keep in mind that these animals are bred and trained to be athletes. Their health and welfare is always top of mind. Learn more about life of bucking horses in this video.

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Essential tips for a Safe Stampede

We can’t believe that Stampede week is almost here! As you dust off your boots and shine your buckle, here are a few little tips for a safe Stampede.

Taking care of yourself

Travel light. Wear comfortable footwear (remember to break in those cowboy boots early!).

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh

Pace yourself. Know when and where to take a break. The International Pavilion in the Big Four Building, Scotiabank Saddledome, Agrium Western Event Centre, and the Marketplace and the Western Oasis in BMO Centre are all great indoor, air conditioned venues.

Bag checks

Bag checks are there for your and everyone’s protection. Pack as if you were going to the airport. You know, no dangerous stuff.

Animal safety

Wash your hands after touching animals.

Watch for moving animals and wagons.

Calgary Stampede, Tuesday, July 8, 2014  Photo by Mike Ridewood

No sudden moves or loud noises around animals.

Don’t reach through the bars of a pen.

Lost Kids – 403.232.9090

Take a picture of what your kids are wearing before you come or when you arrive to the Stampede.

Make sure you get a wristband at the Lost Kids booths located at four of our gates or at the Lost Kids booth in the Great FUNtier.

Point out Police and Stampede employees as you walk around Park with your children so that they know safe people to go to if they get separated.

If you become separated from your child, call Lost Kids immediately. Don’t wait to look around for five more minutes. If you are reunited quickly, no harm done.

Lost Kids is not just for kids. Lost kids is happy to assist with teens, seniors or anyone without a cell phone that is separated from their party.

Do your kids know your cell phone number?

Follow the rules

Follow the ride rules and instructions from ride operators. They are there for your safety!

Photo Credit: Shane KuhnFollow the direction of Stampede employees and volunteers (Stampede employees wear a gold and black nametag; volunteers wear a red and white nametag).


Summer weather is unpredictable. Dress appropriately and be prepared.

On hot, sunny days, wear sunscreen and drink lots of water. Go inside or find some shade if you’re feeling exhausted. Listen to your body.

Summer storms come quickly. Look for shelter and move away from entrances once you are inside the building. Follow the instructions of Stampede employees–they are there to help!

3 new unexpected adventures on Stampede Park

Looking for something new to do on Stampede Park this year? How about escaping from jail? Or taking a nap?! Or starring in your very own animated GIF?

1. Locked Room – Wild West Jail Escape


You’ve been framed for a robbery and locked up in an ol’ western jail! You have 10 minutes to figure out what was stolen, who framed you, where the real criminals are hiding and find the dynamite that will blast you out of the sheriff’s office.


The Locked Room team repurposed an oil field trailer to look and feel just like an old western jail wagon, with barnboard paneling and jail bars. If 10 minutes sounds quick to solve all that, don’t worry. Clues will guide you along as you progress through the game.

2. Take a nap in the Casper NapmobileNaptour_Vehicle_1

You’ve walked 10 km. You’ve watched the Rodeo. You may have eaten some mini donuts. And all you want to do is get a quick nap in before you two step on the Nashville North dance floor.

This year, your wish has come true. One our sponsors, Casper—maker of mattresses, sheets and pillows designed for the best sleep ever—is bringing their Napmobile where you can hunker down for a snooze when you need it. And just to be clear, it’s one person per bed, folks.


Stop by the Napmobile (across from Nashville North beside the GMC activation) to sign up for your 15 minute nap (but if there’s not a line, you might get to sleep a little longer). Napmobile will be with us from July 7 to 10.


The National Film Board (NFB) is bringing their GIFnTAKE booth where you can put yourself inside an animated sequence from a NFB film. The final product is yours to send through your social media channels.


Check out the GIFnTAKE booth in the Western Oasis. It will be just beside the Sales Desk. And it’s totally free.

What’s your Stampede style?

With Stampede just around the corner, we wanted to ask Calgary: What’s your Stampede style? There are so many ways to do western wear. Here are some of our favourites through the years. Don’t forget to top up your cowboy wardrobe at at Lammle’s Western Wear! Tag your photos of Stampede fashion #mystampedestyle #mywesternwear.

The Classic

Jeans, cowboy boots, belt buckle, button up shirt and hat. This is what the pros wear.

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn / Calgary Stampede

Sundresses with hat and boots

Perfect for ladies on a sunny summer day. Often worn with a jean jacket.


Matching and adorable


Matching Kids

The Hipster

Embracing classic western with a modern twist. Preferably worn with an ironic mustache.

Photo Credit: Shaun Robinson / Calgary Stampede

Clothes with horses

Like this shirt. Solid.

Photo Credit: Shaun Robinson / Calgary Stampede


Stampede Royalty lead the way in western fashion, and here they are wearing fringe with style. Also, 2014 Indian Princess Carly Weasel Child’s skirt: beautiful.


Double denim, a.k.a. the Canadian Tuxedo

You may not be able to get away with it for the rest of the year, but during Stampede double denim is a rite of passage. Embrace it. Like Bobby Wills.

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh / Calgary Stampede


Who wouldn’t want to wear leather chaps over their jeans when it’s 31 degrees outside? A bold, iconic look.

Calgary Stampede, Friday, July 11, 2014 Photo by Mike Ridewood

T-Shirt and jeans

A more casual take on the classic. Here, Aaron Pritchett shows us you can add your boots and hat to any outfit and you are Stampede ready!

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh / Calgary Stampede

Suspenders and/or Sheriff badge

2014 Parade Marshal William Shatner rocks the leather suspenders and his sheriff badge with confidence.

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin / Calgary Stampede


The bandana looks good and is great to have on hand when you’re getting a little sweaty from walking around on Stampede Park. Win. Win.


Bolo tie

The bolo tie is authentic western and not just for gents—try it, ladies! Harder to see but also note this gentleman’s amazing leather beaded jacket (and sheriff’s badge!).


What does the Stampede mean to us as Calgarians? Author Aritha van Herk explores this question and more in her new book

 With the title of the book, Stampede and the Westness of West, I was trying to say that you can’t totalize the west or the westness of the Stampede celebration. This spirit is what this community is about, an essence that’s hard to define, almost impossible to capture, but we live it every day.

Aritha van Herk is a novelist, essayist, cultural commentator, editor and professor. She was the Stampede Artist in Residence in 2012, when Calgary was the Cultural Capital of Canada. The resulting book, Stampede and the Westness of the West, has just been published. Join Aritha this Sunday, June 26 at 10 a.m. at Rotary House on Stampede Park for a book reading and signing–and free pancakes for the first 80 people!


Calgary Stampede (CS): Do you remember your first Stampede? How old were you? What do you remember?

Aritha van Herk (AVH): I was not a child – I did not grow up in Calgary. I moved here in my twenties. So my first Stampede was around 1986. Before that, I didn’t realize the extent to which it takes over the city—that neighbourhoods all have their own celebrations and pancake breakfasts. Once I realized that, I thought, This is exciting. I had never lived in a city where this happens – I’ve lived in Edmonton, Vancouver, different places outside North America, but I had never seen a city embrace an event like Calgary does.

Then, the University, around 2005, offered a course on the Stampede. They knew I was interested in the Chuckwagon races, so they asked me to teach the Chuckwagon module. It was total immersion. That was when I began to really understand the Stampede as event. There’s a whole history, rules, culture behind not just the Chuckwagon races, but the Stampede itself.

van Herk, dreaming of driving

Aritha van Herk tests out a chuckwagon driver’s seat

CS: Tell us more about what you mean by you ‘really began to understand.’

AVH: Well, I was finding out the story behind the story. When I’m in meetings with people across Canada, everyone knows us as the Stampede city, while here in Calgary, some people wish we weren’t defined by the Stampede brand. But other towns say, with serious envy, “We would give our right arm for that indelible brand.” It is so compelling. So long lasting.

I don’t think Calgarians appreciate that Stampede has given us a flavour and a flair, and that it integrates our powerful history of ranching, animals, agriculture and indigenous culture, as well as our contemporary spirit of volunteerism and can-do-ism. All of those elements shape the character of Calgary—and Stampede gathers together those different facets of our character.

CS: What did you do as the artist in residence for the Stampede?

AVH: I would go down to Stampede Park every day. I would go to community parties and Stampede breakfasts, walk around with a notebook and my iPhone, which became my notebook when my notebook got full, which it did. I would inhale the flavour, pay attention, look behind the bleachers and behind closed doors. As a writer, you don’t write immediately. You soak up details. You go home and think about what you’ve observed. Then you start writing. And it takes a long time to write a book.

Writer in Residence

Aritha van Herk during her time as Artist in Residence

For me, that experience, those 10 days when we were the Cultural Capital of Canada, were an amazing source of ideas. I let myself be the observer, in the corner in every part of Stampede, everywhere in the city. Then I went back and did the historical research, spent time in Glenbow, read all the books, dug around in various other historical elements.

For example, I got so excited about the origin of pancakes and their appearance in literature and history. They are this completely portable food that can be cooked on the back of a chuckwagon, on a tailgate. Flour, egg, water, off you go.

Another example is that people think that Chuckwagon races are an invention, but they don’t realize that the races are a contemporary version of Roman chariot races, which go back thousands of years. It’s a human ritual that we have been engaging in for centuries. So I think we need to understand that our rituals adapt a long history. In that context, Stampede is not a one off carnival that happens every year – it’s an encapsulation of what humans have done for centuries. And in a strange way, it distills how we try to understand our connection to the land, our place within it, our connection to the sky, the weather, and all the other generous and renegade parts of our city.

CS: What surprised you the most?

AVH: There were so many moments that were just amazing. Sitting up in the box at the beginning of the chucks during the first call. You realize what a complex organization the whole production is – when the helicopter comes in with the flag, everything timed to the second. Often guests just don’t get it; they think it’s total chaos down in the infield, but it’s not – all the events are timed to the second, planned perfectly.

Another surprise, I loved the World Stock Dog competition. I could sit there every morning and watch Stock Dogs herding sheep. It’s the most peaceful and gentle competition. And once you get into Stampede Park, it’s free.

I knew that entrance gives attendees all kinds of events to take in, but during my time there I was reminded that Calgary works on a remarkable gift economy. Like the pancake breakfasts – I remember being down on Stephen Avenue – tourists looking at me asking “Do they do this every day?” Their mouths were literally agape. We don’t realize how blessed this city is by generosity, and how much volunteerism and generosity are parts of the Stampede.

CS: Tell us about the phrase “The Westness of West.”

AVH: With the title of the book, Stampede and the Westness of West, I was trying to say that you can’t totalize the west or the westness of the Stampede celebration. This spirit is what this community is about, an essence that’s hard to define, almost impossible to capture, but we live it every day. And Stampede is where it hits its peak, at least in a performative sense. Those 10 days distill who we are, even if we refuse to participate. Like Nenshi on a horse, we all change into a different character.

CS: Anything else you want to tell us about the book?

AVH: The book is an exploration. It’s not a critique, nor is it total praise. It’s not an advertisement. It’s an exploration of what the Stampede means to us. And that’s the way it should be read.

Indian Princess alumna Amelia Crowshoe on the tradition of tipi design and the University of Calgary Campfire Chat


On Tuesday, June 21, National Aboriginal Day, the University of Calgary will present its inaugural Campfire Chat on St. Patrick’s Island. This will be a special event where the community can learn and experience our heritage and First Nations traditions. In addition to a talk by Elder Reg Crowshoe about the aboriginal history of our region, Stampede Indian Princess alumna, Amelia Crowshoe and her family will paint her tipi. We talked to Amelia about the tradition of tipi design and how her experience as Indian Princess has impacted her life. (Read more about the University of Calgary’s Campfire Chat after the interview!)

Calgary Stampede: Your tipi will be painted at the Campfire Chat–Why is your tipi being painted?

Amelia Crowshoe: My grandfather is transferring the tipi design to me. He had a dream about this design and surprised me a couple of months ago with the news that he would be transferring the design to me. In Blackfoot tradition, you can obtain a tipi design in a number of ways: a dream (from creator or spirit world); it can be passed down through the family; or you can approach someone for a transfer of a design.

Tipi painting 4

CS: Can you tell us about the tradition of tipi design?

AC: The Blackfoot people are one of few that still do tipi design transfer. Each design is special to the owners and each design has a story. The stories are sort of privileged information and there is a process to learn about the design. If you want to hear the story of the design, you make an offering to the owner—like tobacco—to honour the information and sharing of the story.

There are common themes in tipi designs. The top of the tipi represents the stars and constellations that are important to our people. The story of the design is told in the middle. At the bottom, the designs symbolize where the story took place. A flat line represents the prairies, bumps represent the foothills and peaks represent the mountains.

Tipi painting 3

On some designs there is a cross at the back that represents the moth. This indicates that the design came from a dream.

Different symbols indicate that the design is from the spirit world or from one of our origin or foundational stories.

CS: What is it like to paint a tipi?

AC: To paint a tipi in the right way, you have to be transferred the rite to paint a design. This is a process that we follow in our culture where the knowledge is passed in a way that maintains the integrity of the practice. In our family, my grandpa designs the tipi. He stretches out the tipi canvas, creates the design the way that he was transferred, and then we paint it as a family. It’s such a large undertaking but once you finish and set it up, it’s so amazing to see the work on the canvas. It’s an honouring of the stories of our people.

It’s special to me that I have been witness to a cultural practice that not a lot of people do anymore.

Tipi painting _2

CS: What will you be painting on your tipi and why?

AC: We will be painting a dragonfly design. It was a big shock to hear that my grandfather was transferring this design to me. When you get a tipi you always have a home, no matter where you are or where you will be.

My mom, sister and I were given a tipi design when I was young –but it’s a big deal to have a tipi design of my own. Having a tipi of my own is considered a rite of passage in our culture. I will have the privilege of taking care of the design and passing it on to my children or whomever it belongs to next.

CS: Where will your tipi go once it is painted?

AC: Most people only see tipis set up during Stampede in Indian Village. They don’t understand that these are our homes traditionally. When we have family gatherings, or if we want to camp out we set up tipis. We live in them when we go to sacred ceremonies. We set them up whenever we can.

Tipi painting

CS: Has your experience as the Indian Princess impacted your life in the years that followed?

AC: Big time. My year as the Indian Princess still follows me around, which is a good thing. I feel really honoured to have been the Indian Princess during the Centennial. The experience taught me a lot about myself and gave me lots of confidence. Living as a First Nations woman in Calgary, I am able to educate others about my people, our culture and build positive relationships.

The public speaking experience, in particular, has been a huge asset in my job. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I was hired!

CS: And what are you up to these days?

AC: I’m the communications coordinator for the Alberta First Nations Governance Centre which is a First Nations data and research organization.

CS: Have you heard about the new Indian Village in ENMAX Park?

AC: Yes, I’m really excited to see it. I grew up in the Indian Village at the south end of the Park, so I was a little sad to see it move, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the new space.

The University of Calgary’s Campfire Chat is part of their 50th anniversary celebration this year. It is going to be a very special way to recognize and celebrate National Aboriginal Day. Below is a schedule of the day’s events. If you would like to attend the chat by Elder Reg Crowshoe, make sure you register on their website.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 1-8 p.m.

St. Patrick’s Island
1300 Zoo Road NE (access via 12 St. SE in Inglewood)
Rain or shine

AFTERNOON – Family-friendly event (come and go)

1 p.m. Triple tipi-raising
2 p.m. Tipi-painting demonstration
3 p.m. Traditional drumming and dancing supported by the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary

EVENING – RSVP required

6:30 p.m. Campfire chat with Reg Crowshoe, former chief of
Piikuni First Nation


Stampede on a budget: How to Stampede in under $35

You could do this day in 100 different ways. You can see music, agriculture, western events, art, culture, fireworks and so much more at no extra cost once you are on Stampede Park. There are also tons of great Value Deals that you can purchase right now.

Don’t forget that every day on Stampede Park, you can buy standing room tickets to the Rodeo ($14) and to the Evening Show ($17).

This itinerary is based on coming for one of the Stampede Value Days, Suncor Family Day, which means you get free Park admission. Have fun!

6/7 a.m.: Arrive. Free pancake breakfast and admission!
Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn / Calgary Stampede

8–10 a.m.: Variety Show on the Grandstand stage.

11 a.m. – noon: Stroll the Agriculture Zone presented by McDonald’s: Catch Country Critters, Blacksmith Showcase, Draft Horse Town, Horse Haven, Miniature Donkey or one of the many Ag demos!

12:30 p.m.: The Dog Bowl Canine Stars!

1:15 p.m.: Mosey over to historic Weadickville for hot dog (about $5). Check out the Quirk Cabin to learn the history of women in the West. Thirsty? How about a refreshing lemonade on the Midway?! (about $5)

2 p.m.: Take a walk over to Stampede Park’s newest addition, ENMAX Park. Check the new piece of public art, Rainbow Trout at the MacDonald Avenue Pedestrian Entry. Visit Indian Village presented by Penn West in its new location. Tour a few tipis and the Arts and Crafts market.

3:30 p.m.: Catch the second half of the Cowboy Up Challenge in the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Photo Credit: Mike Ridewood

5 p.m.: Head over to the International Pavilion in the Big Four Building. Explore the International Street Market.

5:30 p.m.: The Peking Acrobats in the International Pavilion.

6:30 p.m.: Time to chill out in the Western Oasis. Stroll the Western Art Showcase. Enjoy live music on the Window on the West Stage. Learn the story of Indian Village on Stampede Park by visiting the Southern Alberta Pioneers and Stampede Historical committee’s exhibit. Is it time for a glass of wine? Why yes, yes it is! Sip your choice in the Co-op wine garden and order up a pear and brie panini (about $25).

9 p.m.: Classified on the Coca-Cola Stage!

Coca-Cola Stage

11 p.m.: Fireworks from your chosen vantage point.

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin/ Calgary Stampede

Midnight: Still have energy after it all? Catch Jason Greeley at Nashville North.

Here’s some more information about how to Stampede on a budget.

Friday, July 8, Stampede Parade, 9 a.m. along 6 Ave and 9 Ave in downtown Calgary.

Value Days:

Thursday, July 7, 5 p.m. to Midnight, discounted admission

Sunday, July 10, SUNCOR Family Day. Free admission between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Free pancake breakfast for the first 20,000 guests.

Tuesday, July 12, Western Heritage day. Free admission all day for seniors 65 years and over. Free coffee and pastries on the Saddledome Steps while supplies last.

Wednesday, July 13, BMO Kids’ Day. Free admission for children under 12 and accompanying adults between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. Free breakfast in the Grandstand Courtyard from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Included with your admission:

Indian Village: Experience the traditions and culture of Treaty 7 at the new location in ENMAX Park. Visit a tipi, attend a traditional Pow Wow and explore the Arts and Crafts market.

Shows and Performances: The Dog Bowl, The Peking Acrobats & Bell Adrenaline Ranch.

Music: All shows on the Coca-Cola stage and Nashville North. The 36th Annual Stampede Talent Search.

All agriculture exhibits and western events (including the Heavy Horse Show, Team Cattle Penning, World Stock Dog and more!).

And much more!

Tips for your audition for The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts

Auditions for The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts (TYC) are in full swing. To help you with your audition, we’ve compiled a list of audition tips from TYC members and instructors. Good luck to everyone this weekend!


Tips from members of The Young Canadians

1. It’s okay to be nervous. You need that adrenaline. Take that nervous energy and turn it into good energy.


2. Always be a little early. It’s very important to warm up properly, whether that means stretching or warming up your vocal cords.

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh / Calgary Stampede


3. For a dance audition, make sure to dress properly! It’s important to wear something that flatters you but doesn’t overshadow your dancing. Along with dressing properly, having the right dance shoes is essential.


4. Get plenty of rest the night before. It’s the best way to relax your body. Also pack snacks and a water bottle—your body will appreciate it.


5. Choose a song that suits your voice but don’t be afraid to experiment!


Tips for Dance from a TYC instructor

1. Let your personality and individual style shine through.

2. Show us your performance and confidence.

3. Ensure your body is stretched and warm heading into the audition.

4. Get ready to be quick on your feet and pick up combinations across the floor and in the centre promptly. 

5. Relax, enjoy and show us your love of dance! 

The Young Canadian

Tips for Vocal from a TYC instructor

1. Choose a song you are comfortable with and that showcases your talents.  

Show us who you are, not who you think we want you to be. Personally, I always prefer to see something done really well, even if it is a “simpler” song choice, over a piece that is too difficult.  

TYC vocal 

2.  Prepare.  

Take the time to prepare your piece so that when you enter the room you feel ready and can hopefully enjoy yourself. Auditions can be very intimidating, but it is also a chance to perform, so have fun. Practicing will help you to feel confident about what you are presenting. Warm up before you get there and run through your piece the day of the audition. This way you can review things and work out any last kinks. Drink water, not only the day of, but the day before.  


3.  Be kind.   

Being kind and gracious to everyone you encounter during the audition process is important. If you have someone playing for you or helping set up your track, be nice to them, and say thank you. If you are using sheet music, put it in a binder (the pianist will appreciate it). Don’t only be nice to us when you are in the room, be nice the entire time you are there.  


4.  Be confident, even if you have to rehearse it.

You can take time to practice walking into the room, introducing yourself and announcing your selection. Enjoy yourself while you perform your piece, and show us your personality. You are not only showing us your voice, but also who you are, so find the confidence to let that show through.  


5.  Don’t forget that we are on your side.

Every time someone walks in the room, we are excited to hear them. We want them to do well and have a good experience. We take notes to help ourselves remember everyone, and though we may look serious, we are enjoying ourselves and engaged in you. We may ask you to try different things or test your range; this is not to throw you off or see you fail, we are simply trying to get to know you better. We want to see you do well, so think of us as an audience there to support you instead of a panel taking notes behind a table. 


An additional tip….HAVE FUN!   


Interview with Keith Sayers – FMX stuntman behind Ramp Up!, the 2016 show at the Bell Adrenaline Ranch

Keith Sayers has been riding motorcycles since he was nine years old. Today, he brings his one-of-a-kind freestyle motocross (FMX) shows around the world. He’s been planning the show and leading the athletes behind the Bell Adrenaline Ranch since 2014. This year, the Bell Adrenaline Ranch moves into Corral in BMO Centre. The show – Ramp Up!- promises more tricks, flips and pyrotechnics than ever before. Learn more about Keith, the planning behind Ramp Up and how special it is to perform at the Calgary Stampede in the interview below. (Show times and dates listed after the interview.)

Calgary Stampede: How old were you when you first got on a motorcycle? When did you know you had found your life’s work?

Keith Sayers: I got my first motorcycle at age 12.  I bought it for 10 dollars from my neighbour. It didn’t run so my father taught me how to work on it so I could always work on my own bikes.  The first time I rode a motorcycle, I knew that it was what I wanted to do for a living. I just didn’t know it would be FMX–I thought it would be racing. Living in Montana and only being able to ride half of the year makes that difficult.

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin / Calgary Stampede

CS: What do you love most about what you do?

KS: I love travelling to different countries and meeting people from all over the world. I’ve performed in Moscow, Tel Aviv, Prague, New Zealand, Australia, China–to name a few.

CS: The best reaction you’ve gotten around the world?

KS: To be totally honest, the best reaction I’ve ever seen is at the Bell Adrenaline Ranch. Nobody expects to see a snowmobile come out on asphalt, let alone to do a backflip. You can feel the amazement in the crowd.

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn / Calgary Stampede

CS: Do you ever feel scared?

KS: Every time I ride I’m scared.  We are risking life and limb out there to do what we love.

The scariest part is the first jump. Your bike runs differently at different elevations, in different conditions. Motorcycles don’t have speedometers, so it’s all on instinct.

But there is no better feeling than having the spectators sitting on the edge of their seats with their hearts pounding.

Bell Adrenaline Ranch - Keith Sayers - 3

CS: Tell us the thinking behind the 2016 Bell Adrenaline Ranch? Any cool new things we should look out for?

KS: We’ve been planning and working on the show since last September. Our number one issue that makes our job ever more scary is dealing with mother nature, so it’s a relief to have it indoors this year. It a whole new feel for 2016.

CS: Any interesting stats you can share?

In 2015 Bell Adrenaline Ranch there were more than 300 backflips performed.

CS: What’s it like performing at the Stampede? What’s special about this event for you and your team?

KS: I’ve performed in events all over the world and none compare to the Calgary Stampede. With this being our eighth year in a row performing, it’s like home to us. The spectators, employees and volunteers are amazing and the atmosphere is like nothing I’ve ever been around.

Show dates and times:

July 7 (Sneak-A-Peek): 5:45 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

July 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 & 17: 12:30 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 4 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

July 10 & 13: 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 4 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Meet the first Stampede volunteers to win White Hat Awards

The white hat symbolizes Calgary’s special brand of western hospitality and Tourism. Calgary’s White Hat Awards recognize “inspiring Calgarians in the tourism industry who go above and beyond and strive to make their guests’ experience a memorable one.”

This year, the Calgary Stampede had 34 employees nominated for a white hat award – and five volunteers. Stampede was honoured with three White Hat Awards:

Mayor’s White Hat Award: Suelin Richards, Calgary Stampede

Best Volunteer — Tourism and/or Hospitality: Keith Rutherford, Calgary Stampede

Best Bartender/Wine Steward: Jenny Slanisky, Calgary Stampede

We caught up with our two volunteer winners, Suelin Richards of the Indian Events committee  and Keith Rutherford of the Chuckwagon committee.

Best Volunteer — Tourism and/or Hospitality: Keith Rutherford, Calgary Stampede

Best Volunteer — Tourism and/or Hospitality: Keith Rutherford, Calgary Stampede

When did you start volunteering for the Stampede and how did you get involved?

Keith: A friend asked me to volunteer with the set up and livestock handling in a program called Rodeo College that provided aspiring young Rodeo competitors with professional bull riders’ instruction. Rodeo College brought together rural and urban kids to teach them to ride steers. That experience led to a volunteer position with the Stampede Rodeo and Chuckwagon races. That was almost 50 years ago.

Suelin: I was raised in Calgary, so, you know, we had Stampede in our blood. I have a friend who works in the barn and I was always asking and hinting to see if they need help. I’d always wanted to be a part of the Indian Village. I started the year of the flood in 2013 with the Indian Events committee.

Tell us what you do as a volunteer for the Stampede.

Suelin: My area is the horses. The Indian Village horses and riders are in the Parade every year and they are a part of the daily Indian Parade that goes downtown every day. I look after the horse and riders.

Note: Suelin was instrumental in creating the Young Wrangler Youth award in 2014, which recognizes youth participation and leadership in the barns among First Nations youth. She also worked with the Stampede Veterinarians and tipi owners to enhance animal care for the Indian Village horses.

Keith: I narrate the history and evolution of Chuckwagon racing to guests in the Infield suites and behind the scenes tours in the Chuckwagon barns. Basically, after 1850, a growing market for beef led to large and long cattle drives from Texas and Arizona along the Sedalia, Chisholm and Western trails. Wagons, called Chuckwagons, were used to carry bedrolls, water, food and supplies. (Chuck is the western term for food). In 1923 Guy Weadick convinced the Big Four to back the first chuckwagon race.

Mayor’s White Hat Award: Suelin Richards, Calgary Stampede

Mayor’s White Hat Award: Suelin Richards, Calgary Stampede

What’s it like being a Stampede volunteer? Why is it important?

Suelin: Stampede has terrific leadership and staff – it’s easy to want to jump in and work to put the show on. The Tipi owners I work with have been fantastic – and I’m blessed that they’ve taken me in. I’ve learned to listen. To understand and be proud of everything they’ve gone through and what they are going through. First Nations culture is such a big part of our history and legacy – and we live in Treaty 7 territory. I felt it was important to be a part of that and share their culture with the world.

Keith: Volunteering itself is a rewarding thing. I think the Calgary Stampede laid the foundation for volunteerism in this region. Back in the day, there were just a few employees and everyone else was a volunteer. That’s how it got started. Today there are volunteers in all sorts of organizations. If you volunteer, you’re part of a community.

What does the white hat and western hospitality mean to you?

Keith: The white hat is a symbol of Calgary and the west. Western hospitality is to be open, kind, generous and inclusive. It means making a guest feel like they want to come back.

Suelin: Western hospitality is about treating people the way you like to be treated. Be good, kind, happy, generous—and that will get you far in life.

What was it like to win a White Hat Award?

Suelin: When I got the email that I was nominated, I thought it was a joke. I was shocked. I like to work behind the scenes. There are so many Calgarians deserving of this award. It was a massive honour. I was at a loss for words.

Keith: Being nominated knocked the breath out of me. It’s a tremendous honour to be nominated. A huge thing. I’ve spent a lot of time talking and entertaining people – it’s something I enjoy doing. It’s a humbling thing to be recognized for this. When I accepted the award, I said: I accept this award on behalf of all the volunteers of Calgary Stampede.

Suelin Richards receives Mayor's White Hat Award

Suelin Richards receives Mayor’s White Hat Award

The best part of being a member of The Young Canadians (and how you can join them)

Do you want to take your technical and artistic performing arts skills to the next level? Auditions for The Young Canadian’s School of Performing Arts are coming up in May.

What’s amazing about being a part of The Young Canadians?

  • Year-round training in vocal, dance and performance with an incredible team of specialists.
  • The opportunity to perform in annual shows (on stages like the Jack Singer Concert Hall and the new Bella Concert Hall), not to mention in front of 20,000 + people for TransAlta Grandstand Show during the July Stampede.

And in addition to all of that? Here’s what The Young Canadians themselves have to say:

Auditions for dance begin May 28 and auditions for vocal begin May 29. Click here for more information. Tips for your audition coming soon here on the Stampede blog! Stay tuned.

We love our volunteers

It’s National Volunteer Week - and it should be said out loud that the Calgary Stampede loves our volunteers.

Volunteer Love Big Four Screen v4

When we talk about our volunteers, we have some big, impressive numbers. More than 2,300 volunteers. Forty-nine volunteer committees. They flip more than 200,000 pancakes in a year. Forty-five per cent give more than 100 hours in a year. They spearhead or support more than 300 community events (that’s in addition to all the Stampede-time programming they do, like the Parade, BMO Kids’ Day Breakfast, just about every agriculture event and exhibit and much more). More than 170 of our volunteers have given more than 35 YEARS of service to the Stampede.

The numbers are big. But of course every one of those people and every one of those hours have a lot heart and humanity behind them. They care deeply about the community and have a passion for the Calgary Stampede.

Last year during Stampede, Bill Gray, president and chairman of the board (a 30-year volunteer himself!), created the President’s Certificate of Appreciation. Meet a few of our extraordinary volunteers and learn more in the following video. Happy National Volunteer Appreciate Week to all!

Everything New is Old Again, The Young Canadians spring show

On Sunday, April 10 and Monday, April 11, The Young Canadians perform their spring show, Everything New is Old Again at the new Bella Auditorium at Mt Royal University. Robin Murray, 14 and Tiannin Chan, 13, tell us about the show. You can get your tickets here!

Calgary Stampede: Tell us about the title.

Tiannin Chan: Everything New is Old Again, will twist current hits into the musical styles of the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. Think Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ Thrift Shop as 40′s jazz or the Fresh Prince of Bell Air as 20’s rag time.

As well as twisting new to old, we will flip some old classics on their head.

This show was inspired by New York-based Postmodern Jukebox led by frontman Scott Bradlee. Postmodern Jukebox posts weekly covers of recent pop songs with jazz or other genre variations. In January 2016, the Postmodern Jukebox YouTube channel surpassed 400 million views. The group is currently on a world-wide tour.

Young Canadians rehearsal What's Old is New Again April 2016

CS: What will the costumes be like?

Robin Murray: The costumes are an eclectic variety that ranges from traditional dance costumes to western wear to vintage.

CS: What’s it like performing at the Bella Concert Hall?

RM: Everything New is Old New Again will be the first production that The Young Canadians will have performed at the Bella Concert Hall. This venue is brand new and we are super excited to be performing on this stage.

CS: Sounds like a fun show.

TC: Yes! We are excited to be working on this show and twisting up new and old music.  The audience will hear music they recognize and will enjoy hearing it in a new style and seeing different style of dance that complement the music.

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.