Some of the most notable Calgary Stampede highlights from 2016

2016 was an eventful year for the Calgary Stampede: our bucking stock started and finished the year winning awards at international rodeos, we welcomed more than one million guests during the wettest Stampede since 1927, and Stampede Park hosted visitors year-round for many different ventures, including the Stampede’s first ever Fall Fair. Here’s a monthly recap highlighting only a few of the many milestones the Stampede saw this year.

January
The Calgary Stampede bucking stock brought in the new year in Denver with some big scores at the National Western Stock Show.
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NWSS photo by Sean Halverson, R-82 Reckless Margie

NWSS photo by Sean Halverson, R-82 Reckless Margie

February
The Calgary Stampede Indian Princess Vanessa Stiffarm flew to Australia for Destination Canada’s 2016 Canada Corrobree – a major tourism roadshow. Vanessa, along with other members from the Stampede and Travel Alberta, helped inform travel tour operators, wholesalers and media about all the incredible things Canada has to offer.
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February - IP in AUS

March
The Stampede’s Annual General Meeting was held in March. In addition to sharing the highlights from 2015, president & chairman of the board Bill Gray and chief executive officer Warren Connell gave insight into the Stampede’s future by speaking to the Stampede Park development plans. Connell noted that Youth Campus, the TransAlta Performing Arts Studios and Calgary Arts Academy were all well on their way, in addition to the future plans of expanding the BMO Centre, which would provide an estimated 500 full-time jobs and an added $73 million a year to the economy in Alberta and $87 million to Canada’s GDP.
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Bill Gray, president & chairman (L) Warren Connell, chief executive officer (R)

Bill Gray, president & chairman (L) Warren Connell, chief executive officer (R)

April
Aggie Days moved to their new home in the Agrium Western Event Centre. The lunchtime rodeo took place in the new arena and the animals and exhibits were arranged throughout the main level, in the exhibit hall and around the arena.
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Where does your Thanksgiving meal come from? Learn about key ingredients grown on Alberta farms

Well, Thanksgiving has rolled around once again. With snow flurries in the air, it’s going to be a cozy one. Have you ever thought about where your Thanksgiving meal comes from? Alberta farmers are hard at work all year to bring those delicious foods to your table. Here’s a little window into the story of your potatoes, wheat and turkey. This Thanksgiving, let’s all take a moment to thank our Alberta farmers!

Wheat

Of course no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without stuffing, and with bread as its core ingredient, wheat is at the heart of your stuffing. Here’s a staggering fact: wheat has been around for 11,000 years. A few more:

Alberta Wheat

  • Wheat is the third largest production crop in the world and the largest crop grown in Canada.
  • Wheat is grown on approximately 6.8 million acres of land in Alberta and 24 million acres in Canada.
  • Alberta produces 8.3 million tonnes of wheat annually.
  • Alberta’s wheat feeds consumers both internationally and at home.
  • Alberta produces enough wheat in one year to make 9,258,000 loaves of bread.
  • Wheat is on the Alberta flag!

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Time Flies

The Stampede AGM in March was the halfway point of my two year term as President & Chairman of the Board. It doesn’t seem possible to me that a year has gone by already but it has been a busy and very rewarding year.

I started my role the same time as Warren did in his new role as CEO and it has been a great pleasure to work with him. Mainly because we were both new to our jobs we decided to try some new things and I am pleased about many of our changes and in particular our goal to operate openly and transparently and share more information with not only the Board but with the entire organization and I feel we have had some real success in that area.

Speaking of the AGM I note that we had both record personal attendance and a record number of votes cast in the Board elections. Great to see such strong attendance from our shareholders and congratulations to all those who were re-elected to the Board that evening.

A few days after the AGM we had the GMC Rangeland Derby Canvas Auction thanks to all of the hard work put forth by our Chuckwagon committee, Paul Rosenberg, Robert Wise and all of our Agriculture employees, the auction came in at $2.2 mm, a far larger total than many had been forecasting. I think that total clearly shows both the resiliency of the people of Calgary and southern Alberta and the general support out there for the sport of chuckwagon racing.

Codey McCurrach competing in the GMC Rangeland Derby

Codey McCurrach competing in the GMC Rangeland Derby

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Baby goats, barrel racing and more at Aggie Days

Hey y’all, and happy Spring! You can sure tell it’s springtime when the horses start shedding and you can wake up to the “cheeeeeeeseburger!” call of the chickadee in the morning (I can’t be the only one who thinks that’s what they really say). Another sure sign is Aggie Days! We just finished a full week of spending time with the kids during the week and then the public on the weekend, and, just as I seem to say after every big event, I don’t know how it’ll be topped!

Stampede Royalty_Aggie Days_1

We’ve been looking forward to this week all year for the extra special reason that it would be our first event where we actually get to ride! Finally! We’ve been working hard all year with our princes, riding at least twice a week and building incredible bonds, and I don’t think it could have gone better. Of course the rehearsal run was a little nerve wracking, not knowing what exactly to expect, but I quickly discovered that my horse, Snoopy was just as excited as I was (if not more) to do his job and he took care of me the entire time. Turns out, O’Canada is his favourite song and he sure can dance to it (who can blame him), and as soon as we were out of the arena, I immediately wanted to turn around and do it again!

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Our amazing horse wrangler, Jessica!

We got to help present awards of $2,500 to two deserving schools for the Aggie Days Art Challenge during the rodeos

We got to help present awards of $2,500 to two deserving schools for the Aggie Days Art Challenge during the rodeos

We even unexpectedly became volunteers to demonstrate the barrel race pattern for the kids, which may have become slightly competitive between the three of us and our stick horses. Princess Bailee did manage to show everything that you were not supposed to do by running the wrong pattern and then knocking over a barrel (we’ll say it was intentional, for educational purposes).

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Every year, the Queens’ Alumni volunteer committee puts on their Giddy Up Aggie Days event: a free breakfast and exclusive access for special needs children. During the event, we got to spend some time hanging out at a photo booth with Darrel, the baby goat. We certainly couldn’t complain about cuddling that furry guy all morning! We then got to spend some time taking in Aggie Days, which was great! There’s so much to see and so many people passionate about what they do within the agriculture community that even the smallest visitors were excited to learn. We ended the weekend by spending Sunday afternoon at the Cowboy Up Challenge, presenting awards, and even getting to shoot the T-shirt gun…such responsibility. If you have never seen the Extreme Cowboy Challenges, I highly suggest taking one in; those horses are braver than I think I could even be!

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Aggie Days_Stampede Royalty_5

Only 87 days until Stampede!

XOXO

Princess Chelsey

New adventures, new home for Aggie Days!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to kiss a llama? Or how a tiny bee can turn nectar into honey? At Aggie Days the answers, adventures and wonder await! And this year you will be able to find them in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

“The new location means a new way of exploring Aggie Days. As you walk through the Agrium Centre and wander through AltaLink Hall you will find new things to see and do,” says Aggie Days committee member Josh Traptow. “Our Aggie Days team has also been working hard to ensure there are brand new experiences for our visitors, many who join us year after year, but also familiar ones as well.”

Children can get up close and personal with a variety of animals at Aggie Days

Children can get up close and personal with a variety of animals at Aggie Days

Aggie Days is a place of wonder where children can see and learn about where their food comes from, how animals can be hard working helpers and of course, have a lot of fun. From farmers and ranchers, bee keepers to weavers, many different experts will be sharing their love for what they do and just how exactly it all happens. Continue reading

Did someone say gathering place?

It amazes me how much this place has changed and grown over the nearly 14 years I have been an employee at the Calgary Stampede. I have seen buildings torn down; new buildings go up, changes in leadership, changes in departments, and changes in responsibilities … really so much change!

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin

This past month has really shown me personally just how much of a gathering place we are for both the local community and visitors from a far. I have had the pleasure of welcoming my own friends and family to three different events hosted on Stampede Park in the last 30 days. Friends have called to see if I can come and say hi while they are here, asking if I have had anything to do with the event they are attending, and to answer their questions about the various services that might be available to them while they are visiting Stampede Park.

In May, I received a call from a friend who was going to be attending the Canadian National Volleyball Championships, as her daughter was playing on a team. She wanted to know what options might be available to the team for food & beverage … of which there were plenty to share with her. While at work during the event, I ran into my friends in the concourse – I was able to have a quick chat with them and even sneak a peek of their daughter playing volleyball in Hall E of the BMO Centre.

Shortly thereafter, another friend shared they would be attending some of the grad festivities here on park – their daughter was graduating and attending her formal banquet at the BMO Centre. Photos and stories of their night were shared on Facebook, showcasing our amazing venue and beautiful décor. It was a sight to see, knowing that I had played a very small part in such a special occasion and celebration for them.

Today is the first day of the Global Petroleum Show – an international event that allows us to showcase our fantastic venues and western hospitality to the world. Yesterday afternoon I received a call from a family member who I haven’t seen in quite some time – he is exhibiting at the Global Petroleum Show – and until he arrived in Calgary, he had no idea that the show was actually at Stampede Park. We have now made plans to connect and I will be able to share with him all of the wonderful things both the show has to offer, but also our amazing park.

These last 30 days have really reminded me about what it is we are here to do. We are here to welcome all those who choose to visit; we are here to showcase what we can do together as a team; we are here to bring our community together through the western hospitality that is the heart and soul of our organization.

I have never been more amazed by what we can do and more proud to say I work for the Calgary Stampede.

From travels to Kentucky, to Grand Entries at Aggie Days, 2015 is great so far

Well, the last month has been an absolute whirlwind for us. The day after returning from Berlin we were busy with an event at Stampede Park and have been going steady since!

One thing that unites our trio, and is a major component of the royalty program, is a love of anything horse related, and we’ve been attending a number of horse events within the last few weeks. We were fortunate enough to spend a week in Lexington, Kentucky at the end of March, and all I can say was WOW! We had the opportunity to tour a few major Thoroughbred farms and racetracks down there and between the acres and acres of rolling green pastures and the barns that looked like castles, they were nothing short of incredible. The horse racing industry in Kentucky has such a rich history and the landscape absolutely matched. Coming from my family’s ranch west of Bowden, which is basically bush country, I was blown away to say the least!

The major purpose of our trip was for Road to the Horse, a world championship colt-starting competition that our coach Jim Anderson was competing and defending his championship title at. The competitors selected two colts each that had been barely touched, and within three days were riding them through an obstacle course. The calibre of horsemanship at the competition was amazing and there was something to be learned from all of the contestants.

April Haley 1

Jim Anderson horsemanship demo in Kentucky.

April Haley 2

Cheering on Jim with our Canadian Flag

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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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It’s a Ruckus in the Riparian Area!

Today’s guest post is from the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society, also known as “Cows and Fish“. It is a non-profit society striving to foster a better understanding of how improvements in grazing and other management of riparian areas can enhance landscape health and productivity, for the benefit of landowners, agricultural producers, communities and others who use and value riparian areas. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to come see us at Aggie Days TODAY and TOMORROW for FREE at the BMO Centre at Stampede Park! We are open from 10am  - 4pm!

The Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (more commonly known as Cows and Fish) brings to Aggie Days a fun, interactive, and sometimes crazy game show that creates a ruckus in the riparian area! Cows, Fish, Cattledogs & Kids! educates children and family audiences on the importance of healthy riparian areas, the green zones of water-loving vegetation next to streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands. The game focuses on the links between healthy riparian areas and healthy and productive fish, wildlife, vegetation, water, cattle and the landscape or environment as a whole. Participants are divided into two teams and “moooove” their cow game pieces along the riparian zone after correctly answering a question posed by the game host in one of the following categories: vegetation, fish, wildlife, water, mother nature and cattle. The winner is the first team that reaches the “ranch”. Amandas Twins KPearson

Cows and Fish is working with landowners and their communities to foster a better understanding of how riparian areas function and how we can manage those areas to improve or maintain their health. The program is a partnership that includes both non-government and government partners. It involves producers, conservation organisations, and agricultural agencies. Funding is provided by that same diverse spectrum, primarily through grants. Initial and formal partnerships for Cows and Fish include Alberta Beef Producers and Trout Unlimited Canada. KCountry, AB, Headwall Lakes

The Alberta SPCA Booth is Expanding!

The Alberta SPCA is a registered charity dedicated to the welfare of animals.They encourage the humane treatment of animals through enforcement of animal protection legislation and through education programs throughout Alberta. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

The Alberta SPCA is returning to Aggie Days and we are excited to be a part of its 30th anniversary!

Domestic animals, including the livestock that you will see around Aggie Days, depend on people to meet their basic needs for food, water, shelter and care. Here at the Alberta SPCA, our mission is to protect, promote, and enhance the well-being of animals in Alberta. By educating people about their responsibilities and encouraging respect and compassion for animals we can help to improve animal welfare and prevent cruelty and neglect.

This year we have expanded our booth and are offering even more ways to learn about animals.
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Students are welcome to challenge friends to a board game race by answering questions about farm animals, pets, and wildlife. Students can also play an interactive iPad quiz game to test their animal smarts. Those who play our game will get a “Kindness Counts” button to take home!

What’s more is that participants who visit the Alberta SPCA booth can get their picture taken in our “Kindness Counts” photo booth. We encourage everyone to share their pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr using the #kindnesscounts hashtag.
#KindnessCounts
Swing by our booth and join in on the fun – we hope to see you there!

Aggie Days Bridges the Gap Between Farms and Food

Today’s blog is submitted by AdFarm, a marketing and communications agency focused in the agriculture industry. AdFarm spoke with Danielle and Debbie Lee about the upcoming Aggie Days and their commitment to agricultural education.

This week, Calgary Stampede Aggie Days volunteer Danielle Lee celebrates the event’s 30th year – shortly after her own 30th birthday. She hasn’t missed an Aggie Days yet, thanks to the influence of her mother, Debbie Lee. Debbie has been involved in Aggie Days since the very beginning, first bringing in Jersey calves and leading the cow milking demonstrations, which both Lee women still do today.

Operating a mixed livestock and hay farm near Springbank, Alta., the Lee family lives agriculture every day, and understands that very few people have the same level of exposure to food production.

Debbie Lee. Photo by Kim Taylor.

Debbie Lee. Photo by Kim Taylor.

“When we started Aggie Days, people were maybe one or two generations removed from the farm,” Debbie says. “Now, they’re two or three generations, and many don’t understand the connection between the farms and food in the grocery store.”

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Greenhouse Vegetables in Alberta

Today’s blog post is submitted by the Greenhouse Branch/Crop Research & Extension Division/Agriculture and Rural Development. They are a highly respected hub for applied research, production trials and training that is well known for being responsive and user friendly, collaborating with its clients and providing world class innovative services. Their mission is to provide greenhouse research and production resources that enhance Alberta Agri-business

Alberta has a thriving greenhouse vegetable industry with the majority of growers in the Red Cliff/Medicine Hat area. Currently there are approximately 152 acres in Alberta dedicated to greenhouse vegetable production with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce being the main crops grown. You will find vegetables grown in Alberta greenhouses at your local grocery stores. Greenhouse sizes vary from 1 acre to 15 acres in size.

Brooks

Commercial greenhouse structures are extremely technical highly automated systems. All environmental conditions are recorded by sensors and controlled by computer software.

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When we were approached to have a booth at Aggie Days, initially we were not sure what to showcase. Being our first year, we have chosen to showcase some different hydroponic systems. Urban gardening seems to be a hot topic these days and these systems are easily adapted for the home gardener or even for those living in small units such as apartments or condominiums. Be sure to stop by our booth and chat with us at Aggie Days!

Agrium Seed Survivor

Today’s blog post is about Agrium Seed Survivor and they will be at Aggie Days this year April 11 & 12, 2015 at the BMO Centre at Stampede Park. Seed Survivor is a free curriculum-based program that teaches elementary children about plants and the importance of agriculture.

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Agrium creates and sells nutrients that farmers and gardeners need to care for their soil and grow healthy plants. They also provide other helpful products to farmers and give advice on how to grow the best crop on the land they manage.

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Seed Survivor was designed to teach youth that plants need water, light, healthy soil, and nutrients, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K), to survive.

At Aggie Days, children and parents get a chance to play a variety of fun, interactive educational games and plant their very own sunflower at our Exhibit – 35′ X 35′ display. Our Seed Survivor displays travels all over North America year round. On their website they have a “Just for Kids” section with colouring, videos, games and more! Be sure to come and plant a seed and learn about agriculture at Aggie Days.

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From Horse Power to HP – The Mechanization of Prairie Agriculture Part 2

Once again we have Terry James guest posting on our blog to finish our series on the mechanization of prairie agriculture! Terry is a mixed farmer who lives near Vegreville, Alberta, on the farm his grandfather first moved to in 1917. He studied agriculture at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and worked for a number of years in the crop supplies industry. Currently he is a full time farmer. Together with his brother and son, they farm about 2000 acres of grain land, and maintain a commercial herd of beef cattle. You can read Part 1 of this series here.

An early thrashing machine

An early thrashing machine

It is difficult to argue that one machine is more important than another on a farm as all are necessary, but for many years, the tractor was the machine that enabled the others to operate. The tractor began as a self-propelled steam engine, the “traction engine.” A pioneer in the manufacture of steam engines for farm use was a man by the name of J.I. Case. Early steam engines were used to provide power for the threshing machines, but were stationary. Case added wheels to some of his to make them easier to move and in 1876 he brought out a model was that suitable for pulling a plow. JI Case and the company he founded went on to manufacture many more tractors throughout the years and eventually merged with the International Harvest Company.

Another American entrepreneur was also very active at this time. In 1837 a young blacksmith name John Deere came up with the idea of using polished steel in a plow. His “self-scouring steel plow” was an almost instant success, and the company he founded continues to thrive today.

When a homesteader first arrived in Alberta his plow was probably pulled by a team of oxen. However as soon resources permitted, the oxen were replaced by draft horses similar to these. After World War II,  the replacement of draft animals with tractors proceeded quickly.

When a homesteader first arrived in Alberta his plow was probably pulled by a team of oxen. However as soon resources permitted, the oxen were replaced by draft horses similar to these. After World War II, the replacement of draft animals with tractors proceeded quickly.

 

 

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