10 things to see and do at Stampede 2016

Axe throwing, deep fried tequila shots, a 45-foot tall spinning ride, an international pavilion, a fire-lit tight-rope walker and a beautiful, new, 16-acre park are just a few of the new offerings to check out this Stampede. What’s your Stampede thing?

1. Ride the Stampede’s new ride

A new ride means a new opportunity for challenging yourself and your friends; Spin Out is a 45-foot tall rotating claw that spins you in every way imaginable – including spinning while you’re hanging upside down! For information on our other rides and ride packages, check out: http://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/attractions/midway

Spin Out

Spin Out

 

2. Watch rescue dogs perform jaw-dropping tricks at the Dog Bowl

These rescue dogs and dogs adopted from shelters, of multiple sizes and breeds, prove that you can do anything you set your mind to, and overcome any obstacles in your way; watch as these dogs defy gravity through freestyle Frisbee disc, flyball racing and high jumping agility demonstrations. Be sure to stay until the end of the show for the exhilarating dock diving act. Canine Stars will motivate you to go home and train your pooch a new trick or two.

The Dog Bowl will feature six shows daily with room for more than 2,000 dog lovers per show. Daily shows are at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. In addition, on Suncor Family Day and BMO Kids’ Day, the first show will be at 10:30 a.m. Sneak-A-Peek on Thursday, July 7 will feature two shows at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Canine Stars

Canine Stars

 

3. Relax by the river in Indian Village’s new home in the brand new ENMAX Park

Stampede Park’s newest green space, a beautiful inner city public park and gathering space, is the new home to Indian Village presented by Penn West. Located by the MacDonald Entry, and across the bridge from Kids’ Midway, you can experience a number of activities at Indian Village including daily dance demonstrations and  tipi raising competitions, cooking demonstrations over a an open fire, and traditional arts and crafts created by Treaty 7 artisans. Don’t forget that the Bannok Booth has also moved with Indian Village to ENMAX Park so be sure to grab some doughy goodness and relax and enjoy it on the lush green grass.

Indian Village’s first event, the Opening Ceremonies and Camp Moving Ceremony on Friday, July 8, the first day of the 2016 Calgary Stampede.

Indian Village has moved to beautiful ENMAX Park!

Indian Village has moved to beautiful ENMAX Park!

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In It to Win It – Here Come the Bensmiller Brothers

It could be considered a pretty high-stress situation. But Kurt Bensmiller is keeping his cool about this year’s Calgary Stampede.

“I’ll be going there to win, just like every year,” he says. “Whether the cards are in my favour? We’ll see in mid-July.”

What Bensmiller and many others will be waiting to see, is whether he can capture a third straight championship at the Calgary Stampede’s GMC Rangeland Derby. Only three men have ever managed that in the event’s long and storied history. Rolling in to the first races of the season, Bensmiller is not letting that get to him.

“If there’s any pressure, it will be what I put on myself,” he says, adding he’s feeling good about the strength and depth of his barn with 16 new horses added to his team of veterans this spring.  But in Calgary, 35 other chuckwagon drivers will be looking to turn up the heat, setting their sights on knocking Kurt Bensmiller from that top spot. Among them – his younger brother, Chance.

(L) Chance Bensmiller (R) Kurt Bensmiller

(L) Chance Bensmiller (R) Kurt Bensmiller

“If anyone dethrones him, I hope it’s me.”  For years Chance Bensmiller has worked with Kurt, training  in the spring at his elder brother’s home.  But after getting the call from the Calgary Stampede this past fall, Chance decided to change things up.

“I decided to take a different approach on my own, to focus solely on my own horses. I had some things I had to work out.” Despite making the decision to train separately this season, Bensmiller still maintains a strong connection to all of his family in the sport, including father and former Stampede Champion Buddy Bensmiller.

Chance Bensmiller at the 2013 Calgary Stampede

Chance Bensmiller at the 2013 Calgary Stampede

“A lot of guys don’t have a big family like mine. Having my dad, Kurt and brother-in-law Vern (Nolin), that family support is huge.”  While Kurt is the recipient of much of their father’s assistance, Chance claims another family advantage – brother David, a talented and much sought after outrider.

“David’s my first call,” says the younger Bensmiller. “Words can’t even describe how much pressure is lifted off my shoulders knowing he is holding my lead team when the horn blows.”  For Kurt, family is a big part of what brought him into the sport, and what keeps him racing.

“That’s one of the biggest reasons I got into this,” he says, adding “Not many people can love their job as much as I do and be lucky enough to share it with family like I do.”

(L) Chance Bensmiller (R) Kurt Bensmiller

(L) Chance Bensmiller (R) Kurt Bensmiller

As for sharing the wagon box this summer at the Stampede, like they have in the past, both Bensmiller brothers are hoping it just won’t be possible.

“Hopefully we’re both in late heats, and too close” Kurt says with a smile in his voice. “We’ll be too close to help each other. That’s a good thing.”

Fun Fact:

The Bensmillers are among four sets of brothers set to compete at the Calgary Stampede in 2016. There are also four father-son combinations.

5 Reasons not to miss the Community Round Up on May 28!

The Calgary Stampede and Centre for Newcomers are excited to invite you to put on your cowboy hat and mosey over to the Community Round Up on Saturday, May 28, 9 a.m. to noon outside the Pacific Place Mall (999 36 St NE). Here are five reasons not to miss this year’s Community Round Up:

Your first Stampede pancake in 2016! There’s a skill involved with mixing the perfect pancake batter and flipping those golden flapjacks to perfection. Our Stampede Caravan committee has got that skill down to a science. Don’t forget about the sausages and drizzling maple syrup. We’re drooling just thinking about our first Stampede breakfast of the year.

Photo Credit: Tye Carson / Calgary StampedeExtend your yahoos to the newest members of our community. The Community Round Up is partnering with the Centre for Newcomers for this event to give new Calgarians a warm Stampede welcome and an introduction to the 10-day festival. We know our city’s weather can be confusing, but going to the Stampede for the first time doesn’t have to be. We’ll have information for first-time Stampede goers about how to get to Stampede Park, Value Days and all the amazing things to do on Stampede Park for 10 days in July.

All the fun you can have on a Saturday morning with furry friends. Want to experience the farm while in the city limits? Community Round Up will have a petting zoo this year! Get up close to all the barnyard animals you grew up loving. There will be plenty of great photo opportunities capturing your little ones meeting these new furry friends!

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn / Calgary Stampede

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn / Calgary Stampede

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dust off your dancing boots. Square dancing, live music and a stage of community cultural programming – all this before noon on Saturday! Two-step with Harry the Horse or watch your local Punjabi dance class perform. There’s entertainment for everybody at Community Round Up.

Photo Credit: Shaun Robinson / Calgary Stampede

Photo Credit: Shaun Robinson / Calgary Stampede

Sneak a peek before Sneak-A-Peek. Community Round Up is as close as you can get to experiencing the Stampede before it starts: the Stampede Showband, roping demonstrations and the best excuse to dig your western wear out of the back of your closet. And did we mention a pancake breakfast?

 

 

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

Riding high in Houston with the Calgary Stampede

Canadian saddle bronc competitor Clay Elliott wasn’t too sure just how to react after his big Rodeo Houston win on one of the Calgary Stampede’s top horses.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” Elliott told local media. “I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with $50,000.”

The Nanton, Alberta cowboy scored the huge paycheck by winning a ride-off in the finals on board Stampede Warrior. It was one of many notable performances by Calgary Stampede horses at the Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston, Texas. In total, Stampede horses competed 84 times in front of 1.3 million attendees over the course of 21 performances. And they definitely caught the attention of the cowboys and the crowd, as they do year after year.

Stampede Warrior competing at Rodeo Houston in 2014

Stampede Warrior competing at Rodeo Houston in 2014

“They captured an incredible 14 go-round wins and more than $110,000 in prize money in Houston,” says Robert Wise, director of Western Events & Agriculture for the Calgary Stampede. The highest marked ride of the rodeo was given to Austin Foss, who scored 91 points on the Reserve World Champion, Calgary Stampede’s Special Delivery. Continue reading

More than the Money – the Unique Partnership at the Back of the Track

John Walters isn’t easily shaken. A veteran chuckwagon driver, his previous career in rodeo included riding broncs and wrestling steers. But cowboy tough doesn’t always keep the nerves from getting to you. Especially when up on stage at the Calgary Stampede Canvas Auction.

“There are definitely some butterflies in your stomach. It’s nerve-wracking, for sure,” Walters said with a grin, clearly back in his comfort zone after the bidding had ended and he was teamed up with the  Brakeman Foundation for the third year running.

Photo courtesy: Larry Kwan

Photo courtesy: Larry Kwan

The Canvas Auction is a high stakes event. Pegged as a yearly barometer of Calgary’s economy, the money raised also plays a big role in the success of a driver’s entire season. Continue reading

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

FARM SAFETY DAY – A FREE ONE-DAY EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM SUPPORTED BY ALTALINK

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I’m thrilled to be highlighting an exciting program hosted by the Agriculture department here at the Calgary Stampede. Bridging the gap between urban and rural audiences is an area of focus for the Agriculture team – their mandate is squarely in focus as this free event will create a day of learning aimed at enhancing students’ awareness and understanding of rural and farm safety. Students, teachers and parent chaperones will have access to interactive activities and information stations.

Farm Safety Day supported by AltaLink will be held on Thursday, May 26, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for students in Grades 6 to 9. Located in AltaLink Hall at the  Agrium Western Event Centre, the aim of the program is to have a series of hand-on experiences for the students that will make a lasting impression.

Some activities planned for the day include :

  •  Large equipment safety
  •  Confined spaces and grain safety
  •  Mass force & large animal safety
  •  Chemical handling and hazard assessment
  •  ATV safety and distracted driving
  •  Electrical line safety
  •  Water safety
  •  Fire prevention and first aid

A few days ago I spoke to Kristina Barnes (Communications Manager, Western Events and Agriculture) who noted that various schools around the city have already registered along with participating classes travelling from Strathmore, Arrowwood, Three Hills and Claresholm. They’re just shy of meeting full registration for the event so if you are hoping to participate, don’t delay in filling out the registration form - due prior to March 31, 2016.

HOW TO REGISTER: Interested teachers must pre-register by completing and returning the registration form available online. The registration form can be scanned and emailed to agriculture@calgarystampede.com or faxed to 403.262.3067. Please note that funding is available to assist with bussing costs.

I am looking forward to seeing the success of this program and of course for more exciting Agricultural programming as we count down the days to 10-day Calgary Stampede 2016!

 

25 Years of Preserving Agricultural Heritage

For 25 years the Calgary Stampede Farm Equipment committee has been preserving our agricultural heritage for young and old by bringing vintage tractors and equipment back to life and showcasing them to the public during Stampede.

The 25th annual Vintage Tractor Pull, presented by Cervus Equipment, takes place on Sunday, July 5 at 7 p.m. and Monday, July 6 at 5:30 p.m. The event is organized by the Calgary Stampede Farm Equipment committee.

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The 25th anniversary of the Vintage Tractor Pull will feature 25 competitors from across Alberta with each one hoping to claim first in their class. There are six different weight classes – featherweight followed by Class #1 through #5, beginning at 1,000 lbs up to 9,999 lbs. The winner of each class is determined based on the highest aggregate pull over the two days.

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Draft Horse Training Camp: What does it take to get a six horse hitch ready for the Calgary Stampede

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2015 Calgary Stampede World Champion Six Horse Hitch

Photo: J Ann Brodland

From Cross Fit to Zumba, the next big fitness trend is always evolving.  However, competitive athletes rarely dabble into the trends and follow a strict regimented plan of consistent training and diet.  Not much is different for the six heavy horses in a six horse hitch.

Brian Coleman of Eaglesfield Percheron’s from Didsbury Alberta, who with was the teamster behind the lines of the 2014 Calgary Stampede World Champion Six Horse Hitch explained what it takes to get a six horse hitch ready for the Calgary Stampede.

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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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