Take the road less travelled to the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler

On October 12-16, the Calgary Stampede will welcome hundreds of competitors from across North America to the annual Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler. Some will fly in. Others will come, hauling horses from thousands of miles away. The end goal is the prestigious competition in the state-of-the-art Agrium Western Event Centre. But getting here, and enjoying the city and surrounding countryside can make the experience just that much more memorable.

We spoke with two of the top competitors from 2015 about the competition, and the importance of enjoying the scenery along the way. Russ Elrod, the 2015 Open Futurity Champion, resides in Terrebonne, Oregon.  Carl Gerwien, the 2015 Non Pro Futurity Champion, lives just outside of Calgary near the town of Nanton, Alberta.

Russ Elrod, 2015 Open Futurity Champion

Russ Elrod, 2015 Open Futurity Champion

Carl Gerwien, 2015 Non Pro Futurity Champion

Carl Gerwien, 2015 Non Pro Futurity Champion

 

 

Calgary Stampede: You come to Calgary for the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity. What is your favourite thing about it? Continue reading

Stampede committees work together to host event that proves anyone can be a rodeo star

The Calgary Stampede Queens’ Alumni committee, in partnership with the 4-H committee, and sponsored by Maxim Power Corp., hosted Giddy-Up Rodeo this past weekend, an event for special needs children to come have some fun and try their skills in mock-rodeo events.

“We love participating in the amazing events you hold for the special needs community,” Giddy-Up attendee, Katy Lowe, said. “My son has autism and cannot usually participate in community events and as a result neither can his two sisters.” Giddy-Up Rodeo, and all of the Queen’s Alumni Giddy-Up events, are specially designed so that children can participate in community events at their pace and in a comfortable setting that isn’t over-stimulating and overwhelming. The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming and it’s an event where everyone can feel accepted.

As soon as you walked through the doors of the beautiful Agrium Western Event Centre guests were immediately greeted by enthusiastic members of the Stampede board of directors, members of the Promotion committee (who were giving out CS branded stamps and showing off their roping skills) and an 11-year-old fiddler to set the tone.

Giddy Up Rodeo 2016 - Agrium

 

Giddy Up Rodeo - Promotion committee

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A Wet and Great Stampede!

Yes, it was the wettest ten days I can remember in my 30+ years of volunteering (and in fact I now hear it was the rainiest 10 days since 1927), but definitely a lot of bright spots and great memories from the 2016 Stampede:

1. Pre-Stampede, on Wednesday, July 6 and Thursday, July 7, I was very busy with large and in some cases record crowds at the CBC Breakfast, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Parade, Tourism Calgary First Flip, the Field Law and Miles Davison LLP parties and Parade committee kick off BBQ. No question from those events that the city was very much looking forward to celebrating Stampede this year.

David Gray, host of the Eyeopener on CBC Radio (L) interviewing Codey McCurrach, chuckwagon driver (R) at the CBC Breakfast

David Gray, host of the Eyeopener on CBC Radio (L) interviewing Codey McCurrach, chuckwagon driver, (R) at the CBC Breakfast

Pancakes being flipped at the First Flip breakfast hosted by Tourism Calgary

Pancakes being flipped at the First Flip breakfast hosted by Tourism Calgary

2. Parade Day is always special and I never take for granted the thrill of being on horseback riding along the downtown parade route in front of hundreds of thousands of cheering spectators. Parade Marshals PB&J (Paul Brandt and Jann Arden) were great ambassadors for Calgary and the walking entry of about 100 representatives from the various Fort McMurray agencies involved with the emergency first response, re-location and re-settlement of that city received a huge and well deserved show of appreciation.

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Waving hello atop of Pa – the horse I rode this year from the Stampede Ranch

3. The Stampede Rodeo was great all week (even during the downpour on Finals Sunday, which I would argue just made it that much more challenging and exciting). Barrel Racer Mary Burger became an instant Stampede hit during the first go around and then continued to win over hearts and fans by pulling in the big prize on Sunday. Getting to award announcer Ron MacLean his own bronze for his 25 years of involvement with the Stampede Rodeo was also a very special moment for me.

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Ron with his bronze and me

4. More often than not, the GMC Rangeland Derby and Evening Show faced the wettest moments of each day. The track held up magnificently and kudos to all the drivers for night after night of exciting and safe racing. The TransAlta Grandstand Show was one of the best I can recall and was designed in such a manner that “the show could go on” each night notwithstanding the weather. Great job by Dave Pierce, the Grandstand committee and all others involved in producing and putting on this show.

Exciting finish to one of the chuckwagon races

Exciting finish to one of the chuckwagon races

The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede performing in the Grandstand Show incorporating water in the show

The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede performing in the 2016 Grandstand Show incorporating water in the show

5. The Stampede is a great place to see, meet and host people and that includes politicians from all levels of Government. His Worship Mayor Nenshi rode in the Parade and then to his credit attended every community event in the city, or so it seemed. Premier Notley also rode in the Parade and she and many of her cabinet and MLAs attended many Stampede events on Stampede Park. We even had Justin Trudeau and his daughter Ella-Grace on Stampede Park for a few hours on Friday, July 15 (though as you can see from the attached below, even our Prime Minister was not spared the rain). PM visit 6. Beautiful Enmax Park and the new home of Indian Village was a hit with our guests and one can only imagine how popular that area of Stampede Park will become in future years with better weather. Photo Credit: Bill Marsh / Calgary Stampede 7. The main Midway attractions (Dog Bowl, Peking Acrobats and Bell Adrenaline Ranch) all received deservedly rave reviews. The Agriculture programming was also outstanding and saw big crowds for Cowboy Up, Stock Dogs, Heavy Horse Pull, Steer Classic and all the exhibits in Agrium Western Event Centre, such as the Cattle Trail and many others.

The Canine Stars at the Dog Bowl

The Canine Stars performed incredible tricks at the Dog Bowl

Heavy Horse Show in the Scotiabank Saddledome

Big crowds came out to watch the Heavy Horse Show in the Scotiabank Saddledome

8. By far the most enjoyable moments for me throughout the ten days was hand out the President’s Certificate of Appreciation to surprised long term Stampede volunteers all over Stampede Park. Such a privilege to honour so many deserving people who have given so much to Stampede and to their respective committees. Many thanks to Jennifer Jenson and Shane Ellis for taking care of all the logistics and making this work with my crazy busy Stampede schedule.

One of the recipients of the awards - Jill Cross.

One of the recipients of the awards – Jill Cross.

Thanks to all of you for what you do for Stampede. Hope all the employees and volunteers of the Calgary Stampede have a great and relaxing (and warm and dry) rest of the summer. You all deserve that. Bill

A baker’s dozen of ideas for how to spend your Final Sunday at Stampede

Ok, guys, tomorrow is final Sunday. It’s free admission from 10 a.m. to noon. Stampede Park is jam packed with fun rides, great food, crazy adventures, dazzling shows, agriculture, culture and much, much more. Not sure where to start? Here’s a baker’s dozen of ideas. Come celebrate – and have fun!

1. Take a free WestJet Skyride! (Yes, free! All day!)

2. Visit Indian Village. It’s one of the most interesting, vibrant & peaceful places on Stampede Park. Have a bite at the Bannock Booth and browse the arts and crafts fair. Indian Village Closing Ceremonies, 7:30 p.m.

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How to become an auctioneer with Ryan Konynenbelt

We’ve all seen and heard auctioneers at work: they’re those fast-talkers who deal goods to the highest bidder. Just about anything can be auctioned off: from services, to art, to equipment, to – you guessed it – livestock.

You can see the top auctioneers at the International Livestock Auctioneer Championship Saturday, July 16 at 11:30 a.m. in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

But how does one get into auctioneering? For last year’s Calgary Stampede International Livestock Auctioneer Rookie of the Year Ryan Konynenbelt, he’s wanted to do it since he was a kid.

He was just 15 years old and doing a church fundraising sale when the Picture Butte Auction Mart, near his hometown of Nobleford, called and gave him a job selling chickens and rabbits on Saturdays. From there, it only grew. Konynenbelt was soon selling sheep, goats, horses, cattle, and doing the odd fundraiser while he was at it.

Konynenbelt isn’t quite the typical case of an auctioneer realized. Many of his peers have been in the business for 20, 30 years – longer than he’s been alive.

But when you’re good, you’re good. In 2015, with 18 years of age and with three years of experience under his belt, Konynenbelt placed third in the Stampede competition.

He’s back again this year – another year older, and another year wiser.

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Auctioneering is much more than fast-talking: there’s a certain amount of pressure that comes with it, too. As Konynenbelt succinctly put it, “You’re selling livelihoods.”

“You wanna do the best you can,” he said. “You’re working for the producer. It’s not the easiest job in the world, but it’s worth doing.”

Because it’s such an important job, Konynenbelt has to be at the top of his game. He has to know exactly the value of what he’s selling in order to make sure he can get a fair price for it.

“Know your numbers inside and out. It’s gotta come naturally to you. You’re counting your way up,” Konynenbelt said. That, along with being as easy to understand as possible, is crucial to auctioneering.

Like every auctioneer, he has filler words to keep a rhythm going as he lists off numbers, which is where all that fast-talking comes in while he’s working to drive up the price. He starts off with a starting bid, and knowing the numbers, is able to get it up to what he wants.

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Konynenbelt’s favourite part of auctioneering? Everything. He says the people in the industry, the atmosphere – all of it’s awesome, and he can sit there all day and just listen.

“The community is like a family,” he said. “You only see them a couple of times a year but you all have something in common.”

So, how does one get into auctioneering? Konynenbelt is self-taught. He’s been doing this from an early age, practicing as much as possible and working at a handful of auction marts. But even he went to school before nailing down jobs.

“Go to school,” is Konynenbelt’s advice to any aspiring auctioneers. “Visit auctions, and just practice. You can practice anywhere.”

At home, on the road, when you’re driving – anywhere is fair game to find your voice.

Don’t miss world-class animals & competitors at the Junior Steer Classic this Sunday!

Have you ever been to a cattle show? Have you ever wondered what it takes to train a steer? Have you ever wondered how exhibitors prepare their animals for competition? A winning steer takes hours of patience, determination, respect for the animals, and impeccable animal husbandry – Come see what it’s all about Saturday, July 16 and on show day, Sunday July 17, from 1-5 p.m. in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

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Calgary Stampede Livestock auctioneers to make Stavely debut

Livestock auctions aren’t new to Stavely, Alberta – but the Calgary Stampede’s International Livestock Auctioneer Championships are.

Before the top 10 finalists take over the Agrium Western Event Centre the morning of July 16, 23 auctioneers will compete at Foothills Auctioneers Inc. Among the contestants are auctioneers from Australia, South Africa and the competition’s first female entrant.

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Canine Stars share the secrets to their tricks while putting on a spectacular show

The Canine Stars prove it’s possible for any dog to become a confident show dog because most of the dogs featured in the shows have been rescued or adopted.

Ray, one Canine Star, was found on the street when he was only two-years old, with his sister. Any loud or sudden noise would make Ray cower with fear and hide. Now, one of the stars of the Stampede’s new show, the cheers and claps from the audience motivate and encourage him to do the tricks. “We use only positive reinforcement on the dogs,” explained the show’s  host, “encouraging them with toys, treats and praise – including cheering and clapping!” The louder the audience members would cheer, the faster the dogs would run and the higher they’d jump.

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Ray chasing the Frisbee at the Dog Bowl

And he's got it!

And he’s got it!

After hearing Ray’s story, and seeing his confidence catching the Frisbee time and time again, the announcer let the audience in on the secret of training your own pooch at home to catch the Frisbee in long distances and stunts. Continue reading

10 pro tips for a rainy day on Stampede Park

Just because it’s wet outside doesn’t mean you can’t have a whole lot of fun on Stampede Park. We challenge you to use rainy weather to find something new on Stampede Park. Here are 10 ideas:

1. Grab covered seats at the Grandstand for the Rodeo or the Evening Show (which includes the GMC Rangeland Derby and the TransAlta Grandstand Show). Use the Virtual Venue to see which seats are covered – bring a blanket, stay dry and enjoy the show! Tickets available here.

Rodeo

Look at all of these Rodeo fans not getting wet!

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BMO Farm Family focuses on environment and sustainability

From humble beginnings on a farm in Holland, one BMO Farm Family’s Alberta agriculture involvement has grown substantially over the years. “We moved here in 1954, just one week after our wedding” said Margaret Rommens, who grew up on a farm in Holland. Margaret and her husband Adrian began their Canadian journey by worked for other Albertan farmers, while saving up to one day buy their own land. In 1971, the couple had saved enough to purchase three quarters of land and begin their own operation.

“Irrigation was new to us, but we had to start somewhere and take the opportunity,” Margaret explained. “And good thing we did because we’ve been quite successful.” In less than 30 years, the operation had grown from 30 dairy cattle to 120 – and continued to expand from there, with approximately 200 head today, which are all purebred Holsteins. Along with the number of cattle, the Rommens family grew as well – Margaret and Adrian had six children, and now have several grandchildren, many of whom are in their twenties deciding on career paths (including university graduates with medical doctor and finance degrees).

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Margaret Rommens (fifth from the left) with her family at the 2016 BMO Farm Family Awards

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Giddy-Up Grits saw great attendance and lots of smiles

Monday, July 11, at 7:30 a.m. members of the special needs community in Calgary began arriving to Stampede Park for a morning dedicated just to them. Hosted by the Calgary Stampede Queens’ Alumni committee, presented by Maxim, and with help from Cenovus and the Calgary Stampede Kids’ Day Breakfast committee, the event was a big success due to everyone’s collaboration.

Giddy Up Grits 2016

Eager guests heading inside the Stampede Corral for breakfast and entertainment

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Heavy horse hitches at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Spending 12 of their 225 travel days per year at the Calgary Stampede, the Express Clydesdale team couldn’t be happier. “We love Calgary! We absolutely love it here,” exclaimed Michael Honhner of the Express Hitch team, from Oklahoma. The Express Clydesdales came to the Stampede this year to participate in the Heavy Horse Show, where they won Best in Show last year, and while they’re here they will also act as the feature hitch during the GMC Rangeland Derby. Their first Stampede award of 2016 came at the Stampede Parade, where the team was awarded Best Heavy Horse 6 and 8 Horse Hitch Commercially owned.

Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and CEO and chairman of Express Employment Professionals, holding his team’s Parade entry award

Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and CEO and chairman of Express Employment Professionals, holding his team’s Parade entry award

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Everything you need to know about mini donkeys and horses

There’s something about miniature animals. Maybe it’s their compact size, or maybe it’s their explosive and playful personalities, but it’s virtually impossible not to burst into a smile when you see a grown person flying down the streets of Calgary in a small wagon with a miniature horse leading the way.

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