The Calgary Stampede rolls out the welcome mat for Rendez-vous Canada!

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The Calgary Stampede Showriders welcome delegates to RVC 2017!

They came from all four corners of the globe with one goal in mind, to take the tourism industry to the next level, networking at Canada’s largest premier tourism show, Rendez-vous Canada (RVC).  This week the Calgary Stampede was pleased to host the world-renowned event at BMO Centre on Stampede Park, presented by Tourism Calgary, Travel Alberta and Destination Canada. The event, celebrating 41 years, hosts some 1,500 international attendees in a different Canadian city annually.

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The Calgary Stampede’s booth at RVC 2017.

“RVC Canada is the most important tourism show the Calgary Stampede attends. It provides us with an opportunity to meet face-to-face with industry leaders, tour operators and tourism partners,” says Lindsay Jardine, manager, tourism sales.

Not only does the show serve as a great networking opportunity, but it showcases the endless opportunities and economic support the Calgary Stampede brings to both the city of Calgary and the province of Alberta.

“RVC is a great platform to present the opportunities we can offer to markets around the globe and that business has a direct impact on Alberta’s economy,” says Jardine.

On average the Calgary Stampede welcomes close to two million guests annually for the Stampede festival and for meetings and conventions throughout the year. This brings in approximately $345 million annually to the province of Alberta.

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Attendees get a taste of Stampede at a private rodeo at the Western Agrium Events Centre on Stampede Park on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

Networking aside, the Calgary Stampede also provided delegates with a taste of the excitement Stampede offers, with a western-themed breakfast and a private rodeo just for attendees.

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Attendees take in the rodeo with their white cowboy hats and western wear!

“It was a great day for all, we thank those who attended and we look forward to working with you in the future,” says Jardine.

 

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

This year marks Canada’s 150 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 the Alberta Wheat Commission to local producers, here are some of those reflections.

Young Farmers/Agvocates

Andrew Campbell, Dairy and Grain Farmer, @freshairfarmer

If there was one word to describe the biggest advancements in agriculture it would be precision. Precision to have a planter, tractor and satellite drop a seed in the perfect spot. Precision to identify feed nutrients to get just the right diet for livestock. Precision to be able to monitor air quality in a barn, or crop quality in a field, right from a smartphone. Precision is and will continue to be the biggest advancement to agriculture as we grow more food with less resources.

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Andrew Campbell, Dairy and Grain Farmer

Danielle Lee, Farmer, Chair Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum, @deleeag

For myself, I’d have to say one of the biggest factors allowing agriculture to advance has been our access to information and how we communicate. With smartphones, there is a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. With texting, tweeting and video chatting we can easily communicate with others down the road or across the country. One of the biggest positives is how we in the agriculture industry can communicate with consumers to answer questions about farming and show what we do on our farms.

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Danielle Lee, Farmer, Chair Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum

Lesley Kelly, High Heels and Canola Fields and Grain Farmer @lesleyraekelly

As a mom and fourth generation farmer, the biggest advancement in agriculture is connecting with consumers. Farmers are seen as one of the most trusted sources and I’m grateful to be able to share my story to lots of people within my community and online. Consumers are curious about where their food comes from and I’m proud to say it’s from families like mine.

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Lesley Kelly, High Heels and Canola Fields and Grain Farmer

Jennifer Christie, Event Chair, Global 4-H Network Summit, @SavvyFarmGirl

In my short career, I have seen the Internet and “big data” lead to the greatest advancements in the agriculture industry. The ability to analyze massive amounts of information in seconds and transmit real-time management information has mainstreamed robotic technology on dairy farms and allowed for more precise nutrient applications in field. This has resulted in healthier animals, less environmental impact and higher quality products being sold to consumers.

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Jennifer Christie, Event Chair, Global 4-H Network Summit

Jay Schultz, Grain Farmer, Regional Representative Alberta Wheat Commission, @WheatlanderJay

In my opinion one the greatest advancements in the agriculture/agri-food industry has been the smartphone. This little everyday device has given a farmer the world’s information at their fingertips while in the field. Agriculture is about putting science and theory into motion; the smart phone takes this to the next level. It’s a platform in which so many other tasks are made simple whether it’s communication like e-mails or Twitter to local weather apps or cloud-based farm management software to operating drones.

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Jay Schultz, Grain Farmer, Regional Representative Alberta Wheat Commission

 

 

 

 

 

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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Learn to do by doing!

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The 4-H on Parade, presented by Cervus Equipment wrapped up today with showings by many impressive Albertan youths.

Stampede Park was particularly busy this week with the wave of high school graduations (congratulations, class of 2015!) and various conferences, however, this didn’t stop us from also cheering on enthusiastic 4-H members as they shared their final projects.

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The Calgary Stampede’s Agricultural mission is to create meaningful year-round experiences for urban and rural audiences on Stampede Park by producing/hosting signature programs that feature animals, showcases, and western events–naturally, we are thrilled to host Canada’s largest gathering of 4-H clubs and members each year! Continue reading

Highlights from 2015 Aggie Days

Thousands of city-slickers got a chance to learn more about agriculture, farming and rural life at Calgary Stampede’s annual Aggie Days. This beloved event embodies the Stampede’s initiatives to connect the urban and rural– Aggie Days is a unique opportunity for urban communities to learn about about how and where their food is made, as well as what producers actually do on the farm.

Guests were invited to submit questions and write about their thoughts on agriculture in Alberta

Guests were invited to submit questions and write about their thoughts on agriculture in Alberta

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2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days

Each year, the Queens’ Alumni committee and Agriculture Education committee team up to host Giddy Up Aggie Days, a free event for special needs children and their families.

2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days

The 2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days breakfast kicked off bright and early at 7:30 a.m. in the Stampede Corral — past Calgary Stampede queens and volunteers from Maxim Power Corp. worked hard to feed more than 700 registered families and their caregivers.

2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days volunteers from Maxium Power Corp.

2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days volunteers from Maxium Power Corp. busy serving up pancakes to our guests.

We saw a lot of happy faces munching on pancakes as notable guests, such as the Stampede Queen and Princesses, past Indian Princesses and several rodeo queens, mixed and mingled through the crowds.

2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days

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What a Year!!!

I can not believe a year has come and gone. Feels like just yesterday Catherine, Danielle, Amber, and I were crowed the 2013 Royalty. Now the 2014 competition has begun and only a few weeks left of our rein.

Stampede was such an amazing experience, but a well needed break was very nice to have. After a few days off to sleep and unwind we were right back at it with rodeos, events, fundraisers, and tourism conferences. One event we were asked to attend was a Youth Ag-Summit. 120 youth from 20 different countries all gathered in Calgary AB to discuss the topic “Feeding a Hungry Planet.” It was great to see the youth of the wold so excited to discuss farming and ranching and working together to try to solve a problem. With the population of the world growing so rapidly, being able to feed everyone will become a concern. Everyone was so excited to be in Calgary and visit the Stampede Grounds. My Stampede sisters and I had the honor of white hatting everyone at the Summit. They were all thrilled to be given a real cowboy hat!

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Aggie Days: Free Fun for the Whole Family

Looking for something to do with the kids next weekend?  Pop over to Aggie Days at the BMO Centre on Stampede Park on Sat, April 13 and Sun, April 14. This FREE annual event is guaranteed to be a fun day for the entire family.

Aggie Days

If your kids love animals you won’t want to miss this fantastic opportunity to see more than 100,000 square feet of agricultural exhibits with cows, sheep, and horses; plus farmers, ranchers, blacksmiths and more.

Attendees will get to try hands-on activities like cow milking, seed planting, and watch sheep shearing and stock dog demonstrations.

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As much of our society becomes further removed from life on the farm it’s important to preserve the rural-urban connection, and ensure the next generation knows where the items they purchase at the grocery store come from.

“Aggie Days is committed to educating children and adults about agriculture through unique and interactive displays,” says Connie James, Chair of the Agriculture Education committee. “It is an industry that we depend on heavily; however, so many people are unfamiliar with it. Aggie Days gives children and adults the opportunity to make a connection between the food they eat and the farms that grow it.”

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Stop by the Next Generation Committee’s display where kids can hand-craft their very own bolo tie, and parents can get the inside scoop on how to make the most of your Calgary Stampede experience this July!

Plus, we’ll have details about our amazing contest for those who are on Twitter and Instagram, with multiple chances to win some amazing prizes between now and Stampede.

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More information on Aggie Days can be found here2013-aggie-days-floor-plan

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.

From bio-composites to blush: how agriculture meets our daily needs in non-food ways

As we head into the next 100 days leading up to our Stampede centennial celebrations, it is always good to remind ourselves of how agriculture impacts our lives every day!

“Food” is often the first thing that comes to mind when we think about farming and agriculture; things like fruits or vegetables or commodity crops such as wheat, barley and canola. Food is an essential part of our every day lives and we are fortunate to live in a part of the world where we can enjoy a variety of foodstuffs sourced from our ‘friendly farmer’.

But did you know that farming and agriculture is more than just “food”? Whether you live in the city or the country, products of agriculture are all around you. And you just might be surprised the shape and form those products take!

Take, for example, biocomposites. A biocomposite is a material formed through the combination of a polymer with natural plant fibers such as hemp or flax. Biocomposite materials can be easily molded into things such as car dashboards or car door panels. (See the biocomposite specs on the “Kestrel” car developed in Alberta by Motive Industries). Biocomposites are also used not only in the manufacture of weed control materials or textiles but also in the development of ‘green’ building products such as biofibre insulation and cement and fibreboard panels (see the Alberta-based company, TTS, for information on their biocomposite products and innovations).

Car panel door, photo sourced from: Wikipedia

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have agricultural goods used in the manufacturing of hair and skin care products as well as cosmetics. Emolient oils (EOs) are extracted from the seeds of crops such as flax, palm, soybean, sunflower, hemp or canola. EOs can penetrate the skin and bind to the membrane of the skin making them useful additives to a variety of beauty products such as skin moisturizers, anti-dandruff shampoos and even permanent waving agents. Cornstarch, derived from corn, is often used in eyeshadows and blushes.

Peas have been known to be used in facial masks. Oats and oat products serve as effective moisturizing and skin protection agents. And let’s not forget “Royal Jelly”. Royal Jelly is secreted from the glands of worker bees to feed larvae and queen bee within a bee colony. Not only does Royal Jelly have anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory properties (and pharmaceutical application), it is also widely used in cosmetic and beauty products. Lanolin is a yellow waxy substance secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep. It is used in a variety of products from cream make-up to lipgloss to hand and skin moisturizers. Even bull semen is used as an additive in hair care products!

These are just a few of many examples of how agriculture is all around us. Agriculture is more than just food… it is an essential part of our everyday lives. No matter where we live!

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Cami Ryan is a researcher with the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan and a member of the Calgary Stampede’s Ag Media Committee. Her family farmed and she grew up as a “townie” in rural Saskatchewan. Farming and agriculture has always been an important part of her life – both professionally and personally. Cami lives with her family and a collection of critters on an acreage just south of Calgary. Check out her blog: http://doccamiryan.wordpress.com/

Farm Equipment- Up Close and Personal

Just outside the Big Top tent, you will be able to see John Deere’s 2010 Front-wheel assist Tractor with front end loader and grapple fork that is used on many farms for handling the round bales, manure and other daily chores.

Behind that tractor is a brand new John Deere big round Baler – these bales can weigh up to 900 kg (one ton) and are used to feed livestock and horses. Farmers use this machine to bale such crops as straw and hay.

An innovative machine can also be seen by the Big Top - the John Deere Tracked Tractor which uses rubber tracks instead of tires. The benefits of this tractor are that it makes less of a footprint in the fields (between rows) and causes less compaction than most wheeled tractors.

Inside the tent you will find a vintage crop duster. This plane was used to spray the crops in order to prevent disease and control pests which may adversely affect yield. This plane is provided by the Aerospace Museum of Calgary. Also at this display you can find video and information from the Alberta Aerial Applicators Association.

Also in the tent at the International Agriculture booth you can see a vintage horse drawn rig, provided by Will Irvine. This would have been used by past generations to transport people and supplies before the advent of the automobile. Come check them out!

What’s for dinner, Part Two?

We have talked about the cereal crops that make up a good chunk of your dinner menu, let’s talk about the main course…the meat!

Your first stop in the Agrium Ag-Tivity in the City tent should be the Alberta Beef Producer’s booth, just inside the north entrance. Our beef is world famous for a reason – it is the best beef anywhere. You will have many opportunities on park to try it for yourself, as most of the Stampede concessions are part of the ‘Grown Right. Here.’ commitment.

You will see a Speckle Park steer in this booth- the Speckle Park breed is a fairly new cattle breed, and was developed in Saskatchewan in the 1970’s. In 2006, this breed has been recognized as a distinct breed of purebred cattle by Agriculture Canada.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg…it will depend on which way you are walking! As you make your way into the Ag-Tivity tent you will see the Alberta Chicken Producers’ and Alberta Egg Producers’ booths. These are both great sources of protein and provide an important part of a well-balanced diet. The Associations’ representatives will be happy to answer any questions you have about these valuable parts of the agricultural community.

This reminds me of a great question I have been asked by many schools over the years. How does a chick get out of its egg? When a chick is about two days away from hatching (19-21 days after the egg is laid) it develops a hard tooth on its beak. It then begins to tap on the shell for many hours before the shell actually breaks and allows the chick to emerge. The tooth falls off shortly after the chick hatches.

If you love pork, ham or bacon, be sure to check out the Alberta Pork Producers’ display. Stop by and talk with local producers who will explain all about the pork industry and you’ll discover how this nutritious food source gets to your plate. You will even get to see pigs of all sizes.

And don’t forget to visit the Alberta Lamb booth. This producer group provides not only meat (lamb chops and mutton to name a few) for our dinner table, but also the wool that we use in socks, sweaters, blankets and the many cozy items we need to survive Alberta’s chilly July nights!

What’s for dinner?

The six main crops produced in Alberta are wheat, durham, barley, flax, peas and canola. If you look at your dinner table, this list makes up a big part of your dinner every night and you can learn more about them in Agrium Ag-Tivity in the City.

Let’s start with the wheat. At Agrium Ag-tivity in the City, you can see a mill turn wheat into flour, which is the main ingredient in most breads and baking. A common question I’ve been asked is what makes up all purpose flour, and there is only one ingredient – milled wheat.

As well you can see the process barley seed undergoes to become pearl barley – which involves removing the hull from the barley so that it can be used more easily for cooking and also can be turned into flour (commonly used in pancakes and some breads). Pearl barley is a main ingredient in Western meal-time favourites such as hamburger soup and Scotch broth.

In our post from Wednesday, July 14 “Everything you ever wanted to know about Agriculture” we discussed the importance of the Canola industry to Alberta and many of the products that are derived from this crop. Check out that post for more details.

Flax is a specialty crop and is used in foodstuffs and is high in fibre and healthy fat, and low in carbohydrates. Flax seeds can be added to yogurt, cottage cheese or smoothies and is a great addition to baking, and pizza or bread dough. Flax can also be turned into linseed oil, a main ingredient in paint.

Durham is another form of wheat and is the main ingredient in pasta; some of my favourites like spaghetti, ravioli and the eternal stand-by Mac and Cheese wouldn’t be part of dinner without durham.

Peas need little introduction – on their own, in the pod or in soup and many other dishes, they are a staple of a balanced dinner.

And of course, our chicken, pork and beef wouldn’t make it to the table without these crops being part of their balanced diets.

When you visit the Agrium Ag-Tivity in the City tent, you will also see the Twister grain bin, the primary means of storing these crops on the farm after harvest and before shipping to the grain elevators. Inside you will see models of past and present grain handling facilities and learn about their operation. Also on park, the Grain Academy in the Upper level of the BMO Centre is a great stop if you want to learn more about the field to fork process in the crop production business.

Remember all the farming and crops involved when you sit down to dinner tonight!

Everything you ever wanted to know about agriculture…in Agrium Ag-Tivity in the City

I was visiting the Agrium Ag-Tivity in the City tent just next door to the Agriculture buildings and wanted to share the amazing variety of agricultural information and hands-on, interactive displays.

At the south end of the tent was the Canola Learning Centre. The huge interactive screen will teach you all about the crop that provides us with everything from healthy cooking oil to an alternative fuel source, biodiesel. You can see the process that transforms canola seed into fuel in the Biodiesel Trailer. Kids can also play in the “seed” box – agriculture’s version of a sandbox, and learn more about one of the most important crops in Western Canada.

Just beside the Canola Learning Centre you will find the Swine display, representing the hog industry. Stop by and talk with local producers who will explain all about the pork industry and you’ll discover how this nutritious food source gets to your plate. You will even get to see pigs of all sizes.

These are just two of the many agricultural education opportunities that are available in the Agrium Ag-Tivity in the City tent – we will tell you more about it in the next blog!

Spotlight on: Ag-tivity in the City

This week, Stampede Spotlight showcased Western Oasis and Buckaroos as two potential spaces where you could take your family. Access to these spaces are free with your gate admission.

One other space that may be of interest to those with families (and even to those who have none) is the Ag-tivity in the City exhibit.

Sponsored by Agrium, Ag-tivity in the City is a massive area comprising of the Agrium Discovery Centre inside the main Ag-tivity in the city tent, as well as the various agriculture-related exhibits and stations surrounding it.

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