A look back at Aggie Days

We had the best time at this year’s Aggie Days, at Stampede Park on Saturday April 8 – Sunday, April 9, 2017. It was open to all ages and attendees received free admission alongside enjoying many activities such as sheep shearing, cow milking, livestock auctioneering, the amazing corn maze and so much more!

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Stampede Princess, Lizzie Ryman with a baby goat at Aggie Days.

We had the opportunity to interact with a variety of farm animals from tiny piglets to giant draft horses. I even got to feed Manny the llama a treat, straight from my lips!

Aggie Days teaches people of all ages about the importance of agriculture and how our community revolves so greatly around it. Queen Meagan’s fondest memory of attending Aggie Days was a little girl holding a sweet baby chick and getting to know all of the horses, of course!

Some special events are also held at Aggie Days, such as the Clock Stock and Barrel, where we got to watch athletic dogs herd a group of sheep into a pen with only voice commands. Or if you preferred to take part in the “horsey” side of things, the Extreme Cowboy Race was great, where horse and rider made their way through a complicated obstacle course! Both events were extremely fun and free to attend.

Next year, you’ll probably find us hanging around Aggie Days as part of the Queens’ Alumni Committee, where we will participate in Giddy-Up Aggie Days, an event for special needs. You might also catch us cuddling baby lambs or laughing at Princess Brittany being dragged around by a miniature donkey! (I only say this because it has happened before.)

We hope to see all of your smiling faces there next year!

The Royalty Trio gets saddled up at Eamor’s Saddlery

Hello again Stampede Fans! Queen Meagan here!

Every Stampede Queen and Princess loves her trusty steed! And, along with our beautiful horses we need tack and all the extras, as every horse lover out there knows!

Our Stampede Royalty program is fortunate to have a very generous craftsman and sponsor to give each of us a saddle! JD Moor personally designs a saddle for each Queen and Princess, putting into 300-400 hours of work on each one! His shop is called Eamor’s Saddlery and is located in Nanton, Alberta.  It was opened in 1941 and they’ve been a Stampede sponsor since 1960. Eamor’s is one of the oldest Saddleries in North America and the oldest in Canada! In addition to Eamor’s, Associated Grocers and Davidson Enman are also generous contributors to our saddle sponsorship.

A visit to the saddlery
On Monday, April 3, the Royal Trio visited Moor and the saddlery.  The first question I had was where he learned such an amazing skill!? He shared with us that he began when he was eight years old and had made his first saddle by the time he was 17. He talked about how it began as a hobby, but quickly turned into a full-time job.

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2017 Stampede Queen Meagan Peters, JD Moor, 2017 Stampede Princesses: Brittany Lloyd and Lizzie Ryman.

Tooling the saddles
Moor said his favourite thing to do is to tool a saddle. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it’s the detail usually found on the fender or on the skirt of the saddle. Tooling detail can ultimately go anywhere on the saddle depending on your preference. To customize the Royalty saddles, Moor will draw up a pattern, then hand paint and do all the tooling himself. Each saddle is “blinged out” with Montana Silver that each Queen and Princess can have engraved. This was one of the reasons for Monday’s visit.

Every year the saddles are a little bit different than the year before. Keep your eyes peeled to see if you can spot the changes! By this point you can probably imagine the passion this man has for creating saddles. His favorite saddle he made for a client was the Rose Saddle. This saddle took about 600 hours to create! The leather has a reddish brown tone and the entire saddle is tooled with detail. It also has gold plating and conchos on it.

As soon as we met Moor, we could sense his authenticity and genuine love for what he creates. It is people like Moor that make me love the Stampede program continuously. Moor described how the saddles he makes are his legacy.

“Those saddles will be around for a lot longer than I will! You’ll have it for the rest of your life and you’ll remember how you got it! I only do it because I love it. There is no other way,” he says.

And right you are Mr. Moor! We couldn’t be more thrilled to have been given Eamor saddles. Before we were crowned on the big night, the three of us were floored at the sight of such beautiful saddles waiting to be claimed. We hoped that those saddles would be coming home with us that night, and here we are lucky enough to meet the man behind them! We will always think of you, Mr. Moor, before we run through those gates at every Grand Entry. We will make sure they are nice and broken in! Like Moor says, “The saddles are happier that way.”

If you’d like to check out some one-of-a-kind saddles in person and see some adorable animals, come out to Aggie Days at the Western Event Centre from Saturday, April 8 to Sunday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event includes free admission and is fun for the whole family!

 

Advice from an Aggie Days super-fan

I live with an Aggie Days super-fan. It’s an annual highlight for him; something he asks about throughout the year. And right now the anticipation is high in our house, with the animal-filled adventure just days away. When asked just what it is about Aggie Days that he loves so much, the answer is simple.

“It’s fun and way awesomer than school!”

While I can imagine there are quite a few things that rank as ‘awesomer than school’ when you’re six, not much can compete with Aggie Days in his books.  So who better to ask about some of the top must-see events and must-do activities?  Here are his top five picks with descriptions:

  1. Stock dogs – “Basically they just chase the sheep into the pen.”  He doesn’t make it sound very exciting, but it is! The dogs listen to whistle-commands from their handler who stays on the side the whole time - blowing the whistle in different patterns and pitches to guide the dogs – it’s amazing to watch!

Aggie Days Stampede Park

  1. Wagon rides – “It’s kind of cool because you get to ride around the Stampede rodeo arena and stuff, where they drive monster trucks.”   We may have been to Monster Jam in the Stampede Grandstand a time or two…

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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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2017 Calgary Stampede Canvas Auction: Perspectives from a Newbie

Four months before guests gather to watch the chuckwagons race at the Calgary Stampede, potential sponsors for the chuckwagon canvases gather on Stampede Park to place their bids. The 2017 Canvas Auction, presented by GMC, took place Thursday, March 23 and set the stage for the always long-awaited and much-anticipated GMC Rangeland Derby. As a born and raised Calgarian, I’ve been to the races plenty of times, but seeing the other side of it at the Canvas Auction put a whole new perspective on the build-up to, and community pride of, the drivers and support for the sport.

Left to Right: Princess Brittany Lloyd, Queen Meagan Peters, Indian Princess Savannah Sparvier, Princess Lizzie Ryman

Left to Right: 2017 Stampede Princess Brittany Lloyd, Queen Meagan Peters, Indian Princess Savanna Sparvier, Princess Lizzie Ryman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As folks gathered on Stampede Park, hearty handshakes were given between bidders and drivers, while naturally curious fans gathered in a separate viewing area to see how it would all play out. In the Boyce Theatre where the action was happening, drivers were led onto the stage one-by-one by the 2017 Stampede Royalty; Indian Princess, Savanna Sparvier, Stampede Queen, Meagan Peters, and Stampede Princess’ Brittany Lloyd and Lizzie Ryman. The drivers were put under the spotlight, with the highest bidder winning the right to sponsor the driver and have their brand advertised on the canvas of the particular sponsored wagon. Continue reading

Cute animals & Amazing demonstrations at this year’s Aggie Days

Do you know what a Romney, Hampshire or a Dorper is?

These are just a few of the different breeds of sheep that will be shown at Aggie Days Saturday, April 8 – Sunday, April 9 in the Agrium Western Event Centre located on Stampede Park. Admission is FREE!

Live sheep, baby lambs, sheep shearing, spinners & weavers and Clock, Stock and Barrel – our exhilarating stock dog competition – will all be there!

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn / Calgary Stampede

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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!

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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.

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Jim Anderson horsemanship demo in Kentucky.

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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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