2015 Community Round Up

A tradition born from centennial celebrations, Community Round Up is as close as you can get to experiencing Stampede time before July! Each year, rain or shine, the Calgary Stampede brings the best it has to offer–everything from music, roping, riding and cooking– to throw the biggest block party you can imagine.


It was a beautiful day! More than 2,500 people attended Community Round Up this year and had a blast with us at Pacific Place Mall.

On Saturday, June 6, Stampede volunteer committees: Community Projects & Development committee, along side, Blacksmith, Caravan, Chuckwagon, Downtown Attractions, Draft Horse Town, Historical, Promotion, Indian Events, Next Generation, Rodeo, Stampede Band and Western Showcase committees brought the hootenanny to the north east quadrant of the city.  Continue reading

Seeking Your Best Buds Horse Tales

There’s a reason Budweiser’s Puppy Love ad was the runaway hit of the unofficial advertisement show-down that is the Superbowl. The puppy’s determination to be with his Clydesdale horse friend and his horse buddies rescuing him from being adopted and taken away makes me giggle while tearing up, each and every time I watch it. Budweiser, an official sponsor of the Calgary Stampede, hit the ball out of the park on this one, our Stampede community and fellow horse-lovers agree.

Here at the Stampede, we think we could all use more Best Buds love stories, so we’re asking  folks to share their Best Buds Horse Tales with us. We’re looking for anyone with a story to tell about a unique horse you love, and the unexpected friend it loves. It may be a dog, a goat, a cow or even a duck. We’re hoping to hear more stories that make the heart swell with wonder over the sensitive and social nature of these wonderful animals.

For example, Troy Flad’s chuckwagon race horse Nipper just isn’t himself without his little buddy, Oops, the miniature horse in tow. So Troy ensures Oops and Nipper are together whenever he travels, keeping both of these best buds happy.


If you know of a great story, share it with us at a new page within our My.Calgarystampede website, a site created in the centennial year as a repository for sharing great stories within the community. A Best Buds page has been added, and is waiting for your Best Buds Horse Tales.

Submissions can be emailed to mystampede@calgarystampede.com .

Check out the submission guidelines at http://my.calgarystampede.com/share-best-buds.html  or read the stories being submitted at http://my.calgarystampede.com/#best-buds

Looking forward to sharing more Best Buds Horse Love through-out 2014 and beyond.


The Stampede Showband heads to Japan!

This month, the Stampede Showband will bring Calgary’s unique brand of western hospitality to Japan to defend its title in the World Association of Marching Show Bands (WAMSB) world championships. On August 11, the Showband will perform its 2013 field show, titled “Momentum”, in Chiba, Japan. This is the Showband’s 4th trip to Japan, with the last time being 15 years ago in 1997.

The mirrored yoga balls used in "Momentum" are each covered with over 5000 tiny shiny stickers!

The mirrored yoga balls used in “Momentum” are each covered with over 5000 tiny shiny stickers!

Continue reading

Our Heroes and Our Heritage

The nomination deadline for 2013 Western Legacy Awards is coming up. These Calgary Stampede awards recognize community leaders in our city and the surrounding area in three categories. While checking out details at www.calgarystampede.com/wla , I noted past recipients including three from the Centennial edition of the Western Legacy Awards and discovered some really cool stories about these heroes and our heritage….

First is the story of Alex Decoteau. Alex was born on the Red Pheasant Cree Reserve in Saskatchewan and moved to Edmonton to live with his sister and her husband in the early twentieth century. Alex’s brother-in-law was an RCMP officer and after a few years Alex joined the Edmonton Police Force. Alex was one of the first aboriginal officers in the Edmonton Police Force and he was eventually promoted to the first aboriginal Police Sargent. Aside from his career in law enforcement, Alex enjoyed running. He ran almost every race held in Edmonton between 1909 and 1916, finishing a large majority in first place. When Alex Decoteau represented Canada in the 1912 Olympics, he placed eighth due to injury. Decoteau enlisted when the First World War broke out. He was a crucial member in many campaigns before he was killed by a sniper during Passchendaele on October 30, 1917 – 12 days before his thirtieth birthday.

From a short life of athleticism and heroics we come to a very different kind of hero, Dr. Mary (Percy) Jackson. Born into a middleclass English family in 1905, Mary Percy graduated with degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Birmingham. She worked in a hospital and care facilities until 1929 when she responded to an advertisement for female doctors needed in Western Canada. She planned to stay only a year, then move back to England but it never happened. Dr. Percy was the doctor for the Battle River area, where Manning is now. When she arrived there, she had about 500 people under her care. Due to large immigration movements, the population in the area under Dr. Percy’s care almost quadrupled before the end of 1931. When Dr. Percy arrived, she was given a small cabin which was to be her home and practice. A few months later, the locals provided her with a horse. That was how she reached many of her patients, on a horse, in frontier conditions. Probably more than once she traveled in the dead of night, in the middle of an Alberta winter snowstorm. One case, a rancher named Frank Jackson, arrived to her via dog team in 1930. He was badly injured and had a septic hand. Dr. Percy treated him and Frank proceeded to spend the next few months finding excuses to see her. They married in 1931 and settled on his farm in Keg River, even farther north than her original assignment. Despite losing the little salary that the government had paid her upon her marriage, Dr. Jackson continued to treat people until she officially retired from practice in 1974. During her career she delivered children, cured countless types of disease and injury, she even pulled teeth. After Mary retired, she and Frank traveled until his death. She made lots of friends in far off places and kept in touch with them until her death in 2005. This frontier doctor/surgeon/dentist/veterinarian/midwife was an amazing and crucial part of Alberta’s beginnings.

Finally, it is my pleasure to introduce “Mr Zoo”. Tom Banes was the Calgary Zoo Keeper between 1929 and 1964.


Though he was never trained as a Zoo Keeper his dedication is an impressive testament to Alberta’s reverence for all animals. During the great depression in the 1930’s, Tom would ride his bike all over town and collect food scraps like banana peels to feed to his charges. After he retired, Tom joined the ‘lecture’ circuit. He was invited to schools all over to teach about animals to grade school students. Ever the showman, the photos you see above are of Baines presenting to students and the things that came out of his bag of tricks.



Former Stampede Chucks Announcer Honoured on Walk of Fame

If there’s one voice that Calgarians know, it’s that of Joe Carbury.  Not only is he one of the most recognized sports voices in western Canada for hockey, football, and wrestling, he spent 45 years calling the chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede until his retirement in 2008.

Joe called races the old school way – just Joe, his binoculars, and a microphone – no instant replays or helpers, and when his enthusiastic voice would yell, “And they’re off!!!” the crowd would go wild.

The local legend was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, and was most recently honoured with his likeness on a “grate portrait” on the Stephen Avenue Walk of Fame, painted by local artist Mandy Stobo.

I had the pleasure of escorting Mr. Carbury to his grate during the special signing event on September 20th and was able to chat briefly with him about his involvement with the Stampede.

When I asked if he was surprised when he found out he was being included on the Stephen Avenue Walk of Fame, his response was an excited, “Oh yes!  And very honoured.”

The emcee of the event, the always entertaining Dave Kelly (former co-host of Citytv Calgary’s Breakfast Television, and fellow Walk of Fame honouree), joked that the cotton candy being served there was Joe Carbury’s secret recipe and that he puts it on his toast in the morning. “Carbury Candy” got a good chuckle from the crowd, especially Joe.

Joe noted that one of his most memorable moments at the Stampede was his last night announcing.  They figured that by the time he retired he had called over 5,000 races.  He said that he got pretty choked up calling out “And they’re off!” for the very last time.

That night they brought Joe and his family on stage where he received a standing ovation from the crowd of over 20,000 people.

“I was very honoured, but also very nervous,” he said, pointing out that he was used to a very different view and experience of the crowd from his “eye in the sky.”

Joe was able to make it down to the Centennial Stampede celebrations 4 times this year.

“It was really something special!  The rodeo was spectaculor. Congratulations to the whole Stampede Board on an amazing event!”

He really loved to go down to the barns and hang out with the chuckwagon racers and their families.

“Those are my kind of people.”

Carbury’s grate portrait is located in the “Pop Culture & Entertainment” section of the Walk of Fame on Stephen Avenue Walk between 1 St SW and 2 St SW near Lammle’s Western Wear & Tack.

Another amazing supporter of the Stampede (and the city), Bill Siebens, was also honoured with a “grate portrait.” Siebens, a local philanthropist, rancher and businessman, generously gifted the Calgary Stampede Foundation with the almost 8,000-acre southern portion of the historic OH Ranch.

#Stampede100 Memories

It’s been over a month and still everywhere I go people are talking about how they celebrated the Centennial of the Calgary Stampede. Every time they ask me – What was your favourite part?

Do I really have to pick just one?

I absolutely loved the Grandstand show. Watching Paul Brandt on the back of the truck as it flew through the air was exciting. Having acrobats in the opening scene being performed over head with all the sparkling costumes of the Young Canadians performing on stage, I was in awe of all the talent. And finally the fireworks that followed the performance, always a favourite for myself and the crowd. But then I remember watching the final heat of the Chuckwagons – so much energy and anticipation to see who would be the big winner.

I had a blast at the rodeo with my co-workers – watching the Cowboys and Cowgirls ride, rope and wrestle their way through the ten day competition. Then heading out to the grounds to grab myself an amazing gluten free treat (yep, I was extremely happy that I could partake in many of the delicious midway delicacies) before heading to Nashville North for some two-stepping.

Lastly I loved volunteering – seeing how many people pour their time and effort into making sure that  the Calgary Stampede is an amazing experience for all who attend and for other volunteers. It’s great to be a part of a team that is so energized and friendly.

Picking one favourite is just too hard – the Stampede has so much to offer, so my favourite part…The entire 10 Days!


WOW! As fast as it came, STAMPEDE 2012 has now galloped out of town and is the newest chapter of Stampede history.

To my host hotel Carriage House Inn, the companies and committees who were kind enough to invite me to attend their events, the many media oppportunities afforded to me and to everyone I met along the way, THANK YOU for making those ten days the most incredible time in my life.

HAPPY 100th and see you all down the pow wow trail!

Your Indian Princess



Amelia Crownshoe with Canadian music star and Calgarian Paul Brandt

TransAlta Light Up the City – 2nd Winning Family


If there’s one thing you can’t predict during Stampede week, it’s the weather. It can be too hot, too cold, too rainy…sometimes even snow has been known to fall! This past Saturday, July 14 there were some pretty dark, ominous rain clouds looming threatening a storied torrential downpour- however, the rain managed to stay light and finish just in time for a spectacular TransAlta Light up the City show.

This lucky turn of events allowed our second Light up the City family winners (the McClelland’s) an opportunity to spark the beginning of the show, erupting five international-scale firework displays across our city.

How did we choose the McClelland’s from a sea of entries? Well, read on to hear their story:

“Our family would love to press the plunger to set off the fireworks. This is my 15th Stampede as a volunteer and am very blessed to serve as the Chair of the Promotion committee. However, there’s a strong Stampede connection to my family as well. As my submission to “My Stampede” states, I met my wife during Stampede in 1998 and my oldest daughter was born on Parade Day, July 5, 2002- right at the time the fireworks were going off at around 11:30 PM. We remind her at every birthday that “the whole city threw a parade and set off fireworks to celebrate her birth”! We celebrated her 10th birthday the day before the Centennial Stampede started and would love to have our family set off the plunger in the context above!”

Thanks to all who participated not only in the Light up the City contest with us, but also our daily twitter contest in which we had the awesome opportunity to give away some great prizes to our followers! (Think Rodeo tickets, GMC Rangeland Derby/Evening show tickets, Johnny Reid concert tickets and a few special Centennial Stampede prize packs). Our online presence side of NGC loved seeing the entries come thru the twitter feed every day, garnering photos and submissions for our #CSTimeCapsule project.

We hope you all thoroughly enjoyed your Centennial Stampede- it was one we shall not soon forget…and can’t wait to celebrate with you all for Stampede#101!



My #Stampede100


Howdy everyone!

How on earth do you sum up a 100th Birthday party in one blog post?! As a born and raised Calgarian, I’ve attended quite a lot of Stampede’s in my time. Every one has a special place in my heart; but somehow, this one was different. From munching on Caravan breakfasts, mini doughnuts and Food Trucks to riding the swings, taking in the Rodeo and GMC Rangeland Derby, concerts galore, TAILS, Western Oasis, the incredible TransAlta Light Up the City fireworks and more…this was by far the BEST Stampede I’ve experienced to date. Did you feel the same way Calgary?

Somehow I felt as though the energy resonating thru our ‘Stampede City’ was more vibrant- everywhere you looked there were friends and families young and old, all celebrating together. Numerous times I overheard passers by simply stating “I love Stampede”!

I tried my best to cover every corner on park, since there was a lot of great new programming added to this year’s 10-day show. My cowboy boots carried me all over the place- not once did I stop and wish I was wearing anything different. The opportunity to catch up with several fellow volunteers & Stampede representatives for an interview and highlight them on the blog was so cool- our organization is chalk FULL of people I’d love to chat with in order to get to know them better, and give them a little extra recognition for all their hard work.


Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of this year was seeing one of our Next Generation committee (NGC) projects really come full circle and gain such momentum and success- the Centennial Time Capsule. We were able to engage the city thru various means of social media to garner submissions and suggestions, as well as help spread the word of our efforts. We were even on the big stage in front of the Grandstand not once, but twice! On Thursday, July 12 I had the wonderful opportunity to walk on the stage in front of 20, 000 fans along with fellow NGC’ers Josh, Sarah and Jenn as we accepted a gorgeous limited edition silver and gold belt buckle from the Chuckwagon committee as their gift to the Time Capsule. This was truly a surreal moment that I know I will never forget! Two days later, we sealed the Time Capsule (Will, Sarah, Jenn & Troy on stage) alongside president Mike Casey, Indian Princess Amelia Crowshoe, and Paul Brandt- what an incredible night that was!

It’s hard to choose what was my highlight moment, since every minute of every day I spent on park was filled with happiness and excitement. I look forward to this time all year long, and every year it seems like 10 days is both an eternity and a split second. I loved that in just one day alone I was able to catch up with old friends and share with them my passion for the Stampede by showing them all over the park, that I could get a ride in a golfcart with my stepdad and watch him in action behind the scenes with his fellow Chuckwagon committee members in the barns (I am so proud that we are both volunteers, its a really great bond to have in our family), and then watch my favourite Grandstand show yet with my mom- front and centre, singing along to Paul Brandt. This was just one day of many memorable ones I can look back on and smile for years and years to come. (oh yes…and how could I forget I actually got to meet the one and only Paul Brandt in person?! Incredible. Surreal.)


So thank you to all my fellow volunteers, staff…and citizens of Calgary(that includes all temporary Calgarians who travel from afar!) for making this 100th Birthday celebration one to remember- we truly are greatest together.

Now on to planning for #Stampede101…

The Friendly Faces of Stampede: Volunteer Profile – Christopher Loach

Well, that’s a wrap.  What an awesome 10 days of celebrating 100 years of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!  We couldn’t do it without the hard work and devotion of all of our incredible volunteers and staff.

The number of people that volunteer for the Calgary Stampede is amazing, and so is the diversity of skills that come with them.

I was lucky enough to ask Christopher Loach, Chair of the Communications Sub-Committee for Downtown Attractions, a few questions about his involvement with the Calgary Stampede.

Christopher’s day job dealing with media as the Communications Director at Theatre Calgary made him an excellent fit for this volunteer position.

1)  What year did you become a Stampede volunteer and why did you decide to get involved?

I was fortunate to join the Downtown Attractions Committee (DTA) as a volunteer in 2007.  During Stampede every year I wandered down to Olympic Plaza when it transformed in Fluor Rope Square and took in the festivities.  When I heard the DTA was looking for people with a media relations background for their communications sub-committee, I jumped at the chance and managed to fill the void.

2)  What are one or two of your favorite Stampede memories?

As a native Calgarian, I have never missed a year at the Stampede.  My earliest memories are of the Stampede grounds at night, being pushed in a stroller, looking at all the lights and hearing all the sounds of the midway.  Later in high-school and then University, I worked as an usher in the Grandstand for 7 summers.  I met so many different people from around the world and made life-long friendships with many of the people I worked with.  I’ll never forget those days.

3)  What Stampede experience or event are you looking forward to the most this year?

Our Communications sub-committee works with Stampede Tourism to host local and international media when they come down to Fluor Rope Square. So many of them are visiting Calgary and the Stampede for the first time, and most of them are amazed that we actually do a hat stomp and get away with it.  It’s such an honour and a thrill to see them be truly amazed at all the work that goes into what we do, and then take those observations back and share them around the world.

4)  What’s your favorite midway food?

I’m a bit of a traditionalist, so I’m sticking with mini-doughnuts.  But any good hot dog is a close runner-up.

5)  What’s your best advice for a fun Stampede?

It’s not always about being in the loudest and most crowded tent for a great party.  Sometimes the real treasures, like watching a stock dog competition or visiting the Western Showcase art exhibit can be a rewarding and relaxing experience. Take time to see all the little things you never thought about visiting…you’ll be surprised at how much western pride and history you can take away from them.


If you’re interested in lending your time and skills to the Stampede team, learn more on how to get involved here.

Ka-BOOM Town

It’s day nine of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, and if you haven’t already noticed the explosions of sound and light that reverberated through the city last week-end, you’ve still got 2 chances to catch Light Up The City.

The Stampede, along with its long-time partner TransAlta, has set up the largest and most sophisticated fireworks presentation in Canadian history to commemorate the Centennial year of the Calgary Stampede!

With 4 nights already under its belt, the massive, synchronized fireworks extravaganza will be set off from five locations across the city tonight and Sunday night – at Stampede Park, Elliston Park, North Glenmore Park, McCall Lake, and Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park.

The show starts between 11 pm and 11:30, and will last approximately 12 minutes. The music, with which the fireworks show has been synchronized, is being played on the Corus radio stations Country 105 (105.1 FM), Q107 (107.3 FM) and AM770 CHQR (770 AM). So grab your portable radio or tune in from your car radio, and watch the fireworks as they’re meant to be seen – in technicolour, with music!

And, for those of you looking to see multiple locations from one vantage point: Rumour has it that from the top of Nose Hill, you can see all 5 shows. I haven’t seen the show from there myself, but that’s what I hear.

You can find more information on Light Up The City on the Stampede website, at this link.

The Tenderfoot Trio – Exhalation

As I wrote in a blog post last week, I have had the chance to show 3 Stampede rookies – “Tenderfeet”, to use the cowboy slang – the ropes over the first half of this year’s Calgary Stampede. From touring the Grounds, to the Rodeo and Chucks, to the Parade and the Grandstand Show, to the midway and the tremendous shows on the Stampede Grounds that are free with park admission… One day was not nearly enough to take in the whole experience. Heck: FIVE days was hardly enough time.

I spoke with our trio of sisters (Melissa, Christine, and Heather) about their very first Stampede experience. Their comments are below.

Joey: So ladies, any initial impressions about the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth?

Christine: We talked about how the Grandstand Show was a major highlight, and on top of it the fireworks show…

Heather: I really liked the marching bands, that was really cool. And the chuckwagons.

Melissa: Who knew that Chuckwagons were so big in Calgary?

J: Did you have any highlights from the parade itself?

C: Seeing the tank doing donuts down 9th avenue. That was cool.

M: It’s not every day you see that.

H: The Clydesdales were awesome, too.

J: I know you got excited when you saw the float for Lake Country, where you’re all from.

C: Yeah! Kelowna, represent! That was Ogopogo, our Lake Monster.

M: He’s a good dude. He has a twitter account: @TheOgopogo

J: Any favourite rides?

C: The swing. It’s a childhood love.

H: I liked the Ferris Wheel.

C: I’m scared of Ferris Wheels.

J: Christine, you mentioned you were looking forward to the rodeo. What did you think?

C: It was REALLY hot. It was something I’d love to come back and see again. What I had in my mind about what a rodeo was, and what I saw, were 2 very different things. It was exciting to see, and I’d love to see it again.

J: Heather, what did you think of the Grandstand Show?

H: It was awesome. The acrobats, and the people doing flips on the bikes and stuff…I think that was probably my favourite part.

C: I thought it was strictly going to be about 100 years of Alberta and cowboys and stuff, but the way it was done was very multi-cultural. It was cool. The Hebei Acrobatic Troupe from China was very cool, doing the tricks on bicycles. They were VERY good.

J: Melissa, you also took in a concert at Stampede. How were the Beach Boys?

M: The Beach Boys were terrific. I definitely went into it thinking they were going to sound like 80 year-old men, and I was totally wrong.

J: What about the fireworks? You said your apartment has good views of 2 of the fireworks sites for Light Up The City. What did you think of the fireworks display?

M: Being on the Grounds and watching them was incredible. I’ve never watched fireworks from directly underneath. For Light Up The City, it was super cool to stand on my balcony and see that the fireworks across the city were totally in sync.

J: Can we expect to see you at future Stampedes?

C: Yes!

H: Absolutely!

M: You bet. I’m a real Calgarian now, so I’ll be there.

10 Questions With…Steve LeManne, Cake Posse & Centennial Team Member

Centennial Cakes have been popping up all over Alberta this spring and summer with one of our really great special teams this year: the Cake Posse!  The cakes are just one of the ways we’re joining with communities for their local events and celebrations. They’re also sweet reminders to come celebrate with us! So far cakes have been booked for everything from the Rick Hansen Foundation Party to the 100th birthday party of Stampede fan Frances O’Lesk.

I had a chance to sit down and chat with Steve LeManne, Centennial Coordinator for this year’s Calgary Stampede. He’s got a pretty fabulous job- helping to orchestrate the largest 100th birthday party this city (and likely country!) has ever seen. Read on as we get to know Steve a bit better. There are just two days left to partake in our incredible Centennial celebrations, so I hope you are able to make the most of it Calgary!

1. How did you get involved with the Centennial Team, and how long have you been involved with the Calgary Stampede?

I started with the Calgary Stampede as a member of the Showband back in the fall of 1995.  After marching for 4 years, I became a contract staff member with the band for the next 10 years.  At some point I realized how much the Stampede meant to me so in 2008, while I was still on staff with the Showband, I became a full time staff member with the Merchandise department.

The Centennial Team was put together following Stampede 2011. The posting went out in May last year, and immediately I realized how amazing this opportunity would be- that I couldn’t pass up this once in a life time experience.  I applied, and the rest is history.  I’ve been in this position since last August.

2. What are some of the initiatives driven by the Centennial Team this year?

The ideas and planning for some of the Centennial initiatives has been going on for more than 2 years.  The initiatives that we are specifically driving are Trans Alta Light Up the City, My Stampede, White Hat Roundup and the Cake Posse.

 3. Can you describe what makes this year, the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede, so special? 

For me, the Stampede is so special because of the way it unites the community for 10 days every year.  We are a volunteer driven organization with almost 3000 active volunteers, so the community plays a key role 365 days a year. But for that 10 days, the window paintings and decor, the pancake breakfasts, the way people dress…we embrace those 10 days and come together to put on a great event, not just on Stampede Park but city wide.

 4. Do you have some must-see activities for our patrons, whether this is their 1st Stampede or their 100th

Every year the Rodeo and the Evening Show are an absolute must.  This year, I’m personally really excited about the entertainment at Bell Centennial Plaza and of course the Centennial Zip line.

5. Could you tell us a little about what the Cake Posse is? Is there a rough estimate of how many cakes your team has served up thus far this year?

Our message this year is “We’re Greatest Together”.  Again, it speaks to the relationship between the Stampede and the City of Calgary.  The Cake Posse is a way for us to go out into the community and help Calgarians in celebration at their various events.  We’ve brought cake to hockey games, concerts, luncheons, dinners, anniversaries, grand openings, gala events and even a few 100th birthday parties.

By the end of Stampede, we’ll probably brought cake to over 130 separate events and given out close to 500 slabs of cake.  At around 85 pieces per slab…..that’s a lot of cake!

6. That sounds like a lot of cake!! Where would one find this team on a daily basis for the 10-day Stampede?

During the 10-day Stampede, cake is all over the place.  We are popping up at various community events throughout the city. We are also serving cake to guests at Stampede park every day when the clock strikes 19:12 at the AG 100 Celebration in Victoria Pavilion. (* Sarah’s note: don’t miss this super special opportunity on park!)

7. Do you have one standout memory from all your years being involved with the Stampede? 

My favorite memory goes back to when I was a member of the Showband. The first time you get to step onto the Grandstand stage under the lights and perform for all those people, some who have come from all over the world to be there….a truly awe-inspiring moment!

8. What do you see for the future of the Calgary Stampede? 

I see the Calgary Stampede continually growing in the future.  And not just the physical size of the park, but also in community involvement.  As a not for profit organization, we already re-invest all of our revenue back into the organization and community, but I see us able to take even greater steps in the future.  The Youth Campus will be prime example of this. When completed, will be the most amazing collection of facilities for the youth of Calgary to be involved in the arts.

9. What are you most looking forward to during this year’s 10-day Stampede?

Being involved in the planning for the past year and hearing about all the different things going on to make this year so special, I’m really looking forward to exploring every corner of the park and seeing what all of our different committees and departments have done to make this edition of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth truly the greatest!

10. Our committee is putting together a Time Capsule that will be opened 100 years from now. If you could include one item, what would it be and why? 

I would have to say I would like to contribute a Cake Posse name tag or shirt.

Steve, thank you for sharing your time with me during such a busy 10-days of Calgary Stampede! I am going to hold you to that Time Capsule donation! : )

Searching for Some Stampede Fun? Check Out our Online Games!

Whether you’re trying to entertain fidgety kids on your smartphone while standing in ride line ups, or sitting at the office wishing you were on the grounds, there are some pretty sweet online games on the Calgary Stampede website that will provide you with a little fun and get you in the Stampede mood!



You can customize your own wanted poster by adding a photo, reward amount, and crime. There are old classic crimes on the list like “Bank Robbin’” and “Gun Slingin,” but my personal favourites were “Heart Stealin’” and “Felony Cuteness.”



This game lets you launch the chuck wagons into the sunset with a cactus slingshot. Yahoo! 



I liked Round ‘Em Up the best.  It’s very similar to Space Invaders, but with a floating cowboy head that shoots lassos at critters falling from the sky.  You can hide behind hay bales for protection…until the critters destroy them.

Have you created a wanted poster with your photo in it?  The Next Generation Committee is collecting your best memories and moments to include in the #CSTimeCapsule Please email yours to: calgarystampede.ngc@gmail.com and it might get included.

10 Questions With … Mark G. Damm, Chuckwagon Committee Chair

Mark checking the soil on the track (‘in the dirt’)

Morning Calgary!

How have you been enjoying your Centennial Calgary Stampede thus far? I know for myself, it has easily been one of the greatest experiences of my life to date. The energy in the city feels more contagious: everywhere you look everyone is sharing in this incredible moment in our history together. I’ve said it before, but I will say it once more- I am truly so lucky to be a volunteer for such an incredible organization as it brings me opportunities I would never normally have a chance to have. One such occasion is the topic of my blog this morning- interviewing the Chair of the Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon committee, Mark G. Damm.

Mark epitomizes all we hold dear here at the Calgary Stampede- preserving and promoting western heritage and values. Overseeing a committee of 42 volunteers is no easy task- so I was thrilled when he not only agreed to in interview, but also a behind the scenes barns tour as well. (I had to pinch myself at that point to ensure this was all really about to happen). Please read on as I get to know one of our incredible volunteers.

Bar 80 , the newly registered brand for the Chuckwagon Committee

1. How did you get involved with Chuckwagons?

I grew up in rural Saskatchewan, and have been involved in farming and ranching all of my life. I became a Chuckwagon racing fan in my teens and have followed the sport closely since coming to Calgary in 1990.  The 2012 Centennial Stampede will be my 21st Stampede as a volunteer, and my 9th as a member of the Chuckwagon committee.  I  was  recruited  by, and  transferred to the  Chuckwagon committee, in January 2004.

2. What have been some of your roles on the committee?

I started in the “Eye in the Sky” as a member of the Production Team and have been the Track Manager for each GMC Rangeland Derby for the past five years, controlling the flow of the races and calling the racing heats on to the track.  As a member of the committee executive during the same timeframe, I have been involved in all aspects of the committee from budgeting and yearly planning, Stampede branding and marketing, to personnel and recruiting, to all elements of racing,  and  long-term  strategic planning, with an emphasis  on ensuring the longevity of the sport, both generally, and in particular, at the Stampede.

Infield at the Chucks & Executive Office happenings.

 3. I can tell you’re very passionate about the sport and the people involved in it. What makes the Chucks at Calgary Stampede so special?

Chuckwagon racing is a true family sport – from the drivers and outriders and their families, to the Stampede “family” of staff and volunteers, particularly the members of the Chuckwagon committee. It is the people themselves that make this sport so great – and of course, there are a lot of shall we say, “colourful characters”, involved in the sport!

4. It takes a lot of people to put this all together, how do you do it?

Not much sleep and a lot of pain, sweat and tears!  Seriously, we have great support from the management and staff of the Calgary Stampede- but it is the forty-two members of the Stampede Chuckwagon Committee that work their tails off year-round,  and put in ridiculous hours for the two weeks surrounding  the “Big Show”  that  make  it  all  happen.    We  also have  an  additional thirty ten day volunteers that help us out immensely during the 10-days of Stampede itself.

5. How long is an average day for you and your fellow volunteers during the 10-day show?

From sunrise, to long after sunset!  Chuckwagon committee members put in an average of 18 to 20 hour days commencing on the Tuesday before Parade Day, through to the end of the 10-day show!

Various Chuckwagon Committee Members in the Centennial Parade, Walking thru the barns & Checking out Mark’s favourite wagon paint job.

6. Do you have one standout memory from all your years at the track?

To date it would be during the 2010 GMC Rangeland Derby, when “The King” Kelly Sutherland won his 11th GMC Rangeland Derby during a very tough spell for the Sutherland family — Kelly was in tears on stage speaking about his wife, Debbie, and his family.  Equally memorable was when Jason Glass  won the Guy Weadick Award and  spoke fondly of his grandmother (the matriarch of Chuckwagon racing) the late Iris Glass.  …so you can see how it is all about the people of Chuckwagon racing!

 7. Can you give a little bit of insight into what happens behind the scenes in the barns?

The Chuckwagon Barns are a working barn area and the temporary home of our equine athletes, the true stars of Chuckwagon racing!  It is akin to the garage and pit area of a NASCAR or Formula One race, except add horses and everything that goes with them!  The barns are a beehive of activity from 6:00 am practice on the track, morning chores, mid-morning video review by the drivers and outriders of the previous nights’ races, afternoon naps and then starting at about 4:00 p.m. the electricity and excitement builds leading up to the evening’s racing.  Another element is the exclusive hosting by canvas   advertisers and the Chuckwagon committee that occurs every evening both pre and post-racing.

Golf carts are the preferred mode of transport in the barns!

8. For newcomers to the Stampede, what do you think is the most exciting aspect of coming down to watch the Chucks and stay for the Grandstand Show?

In one word it has to be that the Show which we are putting on is unique – from four wagons and twenty-four horses racing around the track during each of nine nightly heats come rain or shine and the sounds, smells and colours of the GMC Rangeland Derby, to the amazing Grandstand Show put on every night by our own Young Canadians – it is such a unique, and world-class event… words don’t do it justice – you have to see, feel and hear it to believe it.

9. Social media is quickly becoming a very important way of communicating- how has your committee adopted this new form of correspondence?

The Chuckwagon committee has massively ramped up its presence on both Facebook and Twitter (@CSChuckwagons), and several of the committee including myself (@MGDamm) have engaged social media to provide an insider’s perspective on the sport, the committee itself and the GMC Rangeland Derby!

10. Our committee is putting together a Time Capsule that will be opened 100 years from now. If you could include one item, what would it be and why?

On March 29, 2012, the committee hosted the 2012 Centennial Chuckwagon Canvas Auction for the thirty-six drivers that would compete in the Centennial GMC Rangeland Derby from July 6 – 15, 2012. The thirty-fourth annual Canvas Auction set new records for both the highest cumulative total bid (namely $4,015,000.00) and the highest single bid ($300,000.00 by Tervita for twelve-time Rangeland Derby winner Kelly Sutherland). Each high bidding advertiser at the Auction successfully purchasing the right to advertise on a chuckwagon canvas received a Limited Edition 2012 Centennial Canvas Auction Advertiser Buckle, and a thirty-seventh buckle was created to commemorate the 2012 Centennial Auction.

The Chuckwagon committee, on behalf of our forty-two hard working full committee members is presenting a Limited Edition Centennial Canvas Auction Advertiser Buckle, (numbered 37) as our contribution to the NGC Centennial Time Capsule– in commemoration of our record setting 2012 Auction and the Stampede Centennial!

Mark, thank you for taking time out of your incredibly busy schedule to meet with me and make one of my Stampede dreams come true. The barns are a fascinating place where you can feel the family energy and love. Also, we as a committee officially thank you and your fellow members for your contribution to the Centennial Time Capsule. It is an item that will hold a tremendous amount of significance one hundred years from now. We’re Greatest Together! 

Mason and Mark – thanks for the tour guys!