Sowing Community Spirit: Benevity, Seedlings and the Stampede!

April showers bring May flowers, right? Then April snow should make seedlings grow! That was the motto on Monday, April 24 when a group of 30 smiling and cheerful neighbours from Benevity came to Stampede Park to grow some great community spirit, despite the cold weather. Bringing 160 Colorado blue spruce seedlings, these benevolent friends from Benevity came to donate some time and trees to the Stampede!

Say “Trees”: Parks & Facility Services share a smile with the Benevity crew and some of the new seedlings

Say “Trees”: Parks & Facility Services share a smile with the Benevity crew and some of the new seedlings

Led by the Stampede’s green-thumbed Parks & Facility Services team, the group divided into planting crews and with tremendous care and affection, planted the seedlings in their new homes. The seedlings were welcomed onto Park and made to feel right at home in the planters located by the Park & Facility Services building.

In their new nursery, the seedlings will be tended to with love and attention by Sandy Mcafee, park maintenance supervisor, and her team for the next two to three years. These initial years are very significant in the life of a new tree and it is important to keep our new seedlings in a safe and happy place before sending them off into the big, open world.

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Sandy Mcafee from Parks & Facility and April from Benevity make a new home for a seedling

Once the seedlings have grown strong enough, the new trees will be transplanted to other locations across Park. In doing so the trees will also be used in landscaping projects as the Stampede expands buildings and greenspaces.

Four part-time horticulturalists from Benevity share a smile with a baby Colorado blue spruce

Four part-time horticulturalists from Benevity share a smile with a baby Colorado blue spruce

A tremendous thank you to the kind folks from Benevity who share our desire to further environmental initiatives and preservation in our city and beyond!

For more information about what the Calgary Stampede is doing to ensure a positive environmental impact, please visit our website http://corporate.calgarystampede.com/about/environment.html.

Happy National Volunteer Week to our dedicated and passionate volunteers!

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At the centre of the Calgary Stampede you’ll find the heartbeat of our organization – our dedicated and passionate volunteers. And while they may come from different walks of life, backgrounds and professions, together they collectively share their love and commitment for creating a year-round gathering place for the community.

National Volunteer Week is April 23 – 29 and the theme this year is Canada 150. At the Stampede we celebrate the unique gifts of each of our volunteers and the ways they strengthen our surrounding communities.

“There are no words to express how valuable our volunteers are to Stampede. They make unique things happen every day that you can’t find anywhere else. They are the best!” says David Sibbald, president & chairman of the board.

Our volunteers donate more than their time; they also lend their talents in the areas of event management, leadership, relationship building, commitment to building our youth programs and welcoming new comers to our city.

Simply put, without the dedication and support of our 2,300 volunteers, we couldn’t do what we do. They share our vision and understand that we are about so much more than our 10-day festival.

Here are just a few of the reasons we love our volunteers:

  1. Passion – they are passionate about the committees they are a part of and the work they do.
  2. Commitment – it’s their middle name! They commit their time and hard work to all that the Stampede does, both during Stampede time and throughout the year. Many of them lead busy lives, but they still make time for us!
  3. Shared values and the belief that “We’re Greatest Together!” – Not only do they live the Stampede values of western hospitality, commitment to community and integrity of pride and place, but they believe in them whole-heartedly. They forge important relationships with community partners and work closely with employees to make sure our initiatives are supported.
  4. Talent – our volunteers are talented professionals and leaders in their communities. From lawyers to accountants, they are diverse individuals.
  5. They’ve got heart – they truly want to make our city a better place by engaging the community and being a good neighbour.

Happy National Volunteer Week to all of our wonderful volunteers. The Stampede appreciates each and every one of you for your generous contributions and support!

Introducing Calgary Stampede’s newest board members

On March 21, 2017, the Calgary Stampede’s shareholders elected three new directors to the Stampede board: Elizabeth Burke-Gaffney, Dave Lantz and Stuart O’Connor. The board further approved the appointments of three additional directors: Lesley Conway, Greg Kwong and Cindy Provost. The biographies for all of these new directors can be found below.

The Stampede’s board is currently comprised of 20 shareholder-elected directors, four government-appointed directors and five board-approved externally-appointed directors. The externally-appointed directors from the larger Calgary community provide the board with supplementary expertise from specific business sectors that are key to supporting the strength of the Stampede’s leadership in light of the organization’s Master Plan and Strategic Plan initiatives and developments.

David Sibbald, president & chairman of the board, commented on the newly appointed board members, saying ”Lesley, Greg and Cindy will bring tremendous expertise to the board as we move forward with plans to expand the BMO Convention Centre and our youth education platform. They are leaders in Calgary and lend to the Stampede a broader perspective and representation from our community.”

Warren Connell, chief executive officer, added “These individuals understand where the Stampede is going and are passionate about helping us get there.”

The Stampede congratulates the six new directors on their elections and appointments and looks forward to the support of their leadership as the organization drives toward furthering its vision to create a world-class year-round gathering place for the community.

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Can Marching Band Save the World?

Aaron Park, manager, youth education programs, thinks it’s a start, which he shared in his recent Walrus Talk.

“Are my students successful now and in their futures? Does what they learn in the Stampede Showband prepare them for their future careers, quality relationships and to make an impact in their community?” he asked rhetorically.

As five-time world champions, the Stampede Showband is about so much more than just music and performance excellence. It’s about building character in Calgary’s youth and developing important leadership skills that help shape the community leaders of tomorrow.

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Aaron Park delivers his Walrus Talk on March 9, 2017 in Calgary.

“While we’re focused on performance and music at the highest level, we know that this is not the end goal of our students,” he shares. “They go on to be more than musicians; they go on to be engineers, teachers, doctors, volunteers and community leaders.” Continue reading

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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Looking Forward Toward Summer 2017, Calgary Stampede Announces Reverse Parade Route

Taking the stage Thursday, March 28, 2017, Calgary Stampede president & chairman, David Sibbald, gathered the city’s local media in the Boyce Theatre, making a special announcement about the 2017 Stampede Parade. Before making it to the end of the speech, the five-time world champion Calgary Stampede Showband and arrived on stage doing what they do best, playing their heart out and adding to the air of mystery in the room.

Calgary Stampede president & chairman, David Sibbald on stage with the Calgary Stampede Show Band

Calgary Stampede president & chairman, David Sibbald on stage with the Calgary Stampede Showband

Always a man for detail, the Stampede’s fearless leader asked the band to turn about-face, reversing the formation, aptly matching the announcement of a new direction for the 2017 Calgary Stampede Parade route! “The Stampede is now, and always will be, a gathering place for the community to celebrate western traditions and enjoy western hospitality with friends, family and guests.” Said Sibbald, “Today is about an invitation to come watch the iconic Stampede Parade …travelling in a reversed direction on the same route…”

The new Stampede Parade route, starting at Ninth Ave. and First St. SE, and finishing at Sixth Ave. and Third St. SE.

The new Stampede Parade route, starting at Ninth Ave. and First St. SE, and finishing at Sixth Ave. and Third St. SE.

Marching in reverse, the Parade will now start where it finished in years past, beginning at Ninth Ave. and First St. SE, and finishing in Calgary’s newly developed East Village at Sixth Ave. and Third St. SE. The new route will allow for easier access for parade-goers into Stampede Park, with free admission for all until 1:30 p.m.!

With less than 100 days left until The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth kicks off, the history and tradition of the Stampede Parade marks the beginning of the western spirit that will encompass Calgary running July 7 through to July 16, 2017.

Stampede’s solid financial health

In 2016 the Stampede continued to respond to the changing environment while protecting the financial health of the organization. We took on the extra challenge in 2016 to ensure our expenses were aligned with our expected revenue. We worked hard to reduce costs in order to address the anticipated decline in revenue. The end result: a bottom line community investment of more than $2 million in both 2015 and 2016 respectively. This allows us to provide the best support for our community programs, facilities and activities.

Here are some financial and community investment facts:

  • As a not-for-profit organization, our goal is to manage our finances in a way that ensures we can deliver the great experiences our community expects.
  • Yes we had a $12 million reduction to our revenue between 2015 and 2016, but we were very proactive about reducing expenses through both our annual budgets and throughout the past two years since the start of the economic downturn.
  • We expanded our programming and community events with the opening of ENMAX Park in 2016.
  • We continue to actively work with the Calgary Stampede Foundation on the development of Youth Campus.
  • Our ongoing capital budget is higher than it has been over the last couple of years and we are undertaking additional renovations on Stampede Park to make this an even better place for our community.

As a 105-year-old organization steeped in history and tradition we have survived because of our ability to change and adapt. “We continue to be out in our community listening and reacting to what they have to say,” says Warren Connell, Calgary Stampede CEO. “We are looking at how to engage the community and set up programs that appeal to everyone. We have a number of new exciting initiatives planned for the community in 2017 and we look forward to sharing these plans starting this afternoon with an exciting announcement about the Parade.”

The Stampede is a reflection of our community and we work hard to meet and exceed expectations. If you’re interested, we invite you to read our detailed financial statements and learn more about how we give back to the community in our annual Report to the Community.

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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

Stampede’s Annual General Meeting has positive outlook for 2017

“I am happy to tell you that the organization is in a solid financial position—yes even after a very rainy Stampede,” Warren Connell, chief executive officer of the Calgary Stampede, shared at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Stampede Park, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Almost 1,000 shareholders were in attendance at the meeting and listened as Connell recapped highlights from 2016 and insight into 2017 and beyond.

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Connell continued by sharing, “Calgary is in the midst of a transformation. Culturally, the city has changed tremendously over the past decade, so to remain relevant the Stampede’s brand values need to continue to align with the values of Calgarians and Albertans. We need to continue to be out in our community listening and reacting to what our community has to say,” he stated as he spoke to the Stampede’s 2016-2018 Strategic Plan.

Connell pointed to how the Stampede tried something new during the 2016 Stampede by providing free admission on the final Sunday, as well as special $5 admission prices at pop-up events earlier in the week. Connell also alluded to similar surprises for Stampede 2017, to be announced to the public in the coming months. Continue reading

Calgary Stampede History Moments Presents: Bert Smith in Memoriam

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Noted western artist Bert Smith passed away on February 17, 2017. Smith’s artwork captures the real feel of the western way of life.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Many of Bert Smith’s paintings and sketches illuminate the book Just About Nothing, which was written by Bert Sheppard, the long-time OH Ranch manager and later owner. Sheppard included a passage about Smith:

“Bert was born at Mutrie Saskatchewan on Feb. 24, 1929, and went to school at Philomath. At an early age he became interested in photography, and later took a correspondence course in art from Washington D.C. Bert worked as a commercial artist in Montreal for one and a half years. He then did art work for Ken Coppock who was secretary for the Western Stock Growers Association, and manager of their ranch supplies department. It was there that I met Bert Smith. On New Year’s Day he arrived at the TL (connected) Ranch to spend three days visit, and stayed three years. It was quite apparent that he had exceptional ability as an artist and photographer. To gain additional ranch experience he was at Joe Bew’s [sic] Y Cross Ranch, The Chattaway Bar S Ranch and the Blades [sic] Rocker P [sic]. It was there while helping to move a large herd of cattle to summer range that he suffered an aneurysm, which ended his art career. He retired to Longview where he now resides. He spends a good deal of his time tutoring the small fry in the preliminary stages of art.”[1] Continue reading

An ode to the pancake: One Calgary Stampede committee and their pancake breakfasts

Tuesday, March 27, 2017 marks this year’s International Pancake Day, a day of celebration where people across the globe flip flapjacks with copious amounts of butter and maple syrup at the ready. As delightful as pancakes are for any meal of any day throughout the year, Calgarians know that nothing says Stampede time more than those magical mornings in July where one can indulge in a multitude of Stampede-themed pancake breakfasts. As a much cherished tradition, companies, families and organizations of all kinds partake in offering up their own special take on the pancake breakfast. Community members have the ability to peruse the breadth of Calgary each morning during the 10 days in search of a fun, free and tasty pancake breakfast! So adored are these breakfasts that the pancake and the Stampede are held together closely in people’s hearts.

Fun times flipping flapjacks at Calgary Stampede 2016

Fun times flipping flapjacks at Calgary Stampede 2016

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10 things to love – in pictures – about being a chuckwagon advertiser!

Chuckwagon advertisers get a Stampede experience like no other–it is an exclusive opportunity to share with clients, family and friends something that no one else at the Stampede gets to experience. Your chance to a part of this rare, behind-the-scenes experience is at the 2017 Canvas Auction, coming up on Thursday, March 23.

Here are 10 things that make being a chuckwagon advertiser one of the best ways to experience the Stampede. Period.

1. Feel the thunder of hooves and the excitement of the crowd as a wagon carrying your logo races around the track.

Feel the thunder of hooves and the excitement of the crowd as a wagon carrying your logo races around the track.

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Hundreds of newcomers gather on Stampede Park for a fun-filled Saturday

On Saturday, February 4, the Calgary Local Immigration Partnership (CLIP), in partnership with the Calgary Stampede, the Government of Canada, The City of Calgary, ENMAX and ATB hosted Building a Life in Calgary: A Community Cultural Exchange. CLIP organized the event for newcomers and refugees who have settled in Calgary in the last year. Hundreds of people gathered at BMO Centre for learning workshops, a resource fair and a cultural exchange, where newcomers had the chance to speak with immigrants from Vietnam, South Sudan and Colombia about their experiences settling in Calgary.

Calgary Stampede volunteers brought their A-game with authentic western experiences including the Incredi-Pull, Bluebell the milking cow, crafts and even horse-drawn wagon rides.

Wagon rides

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Stampede team volunteers for The Alex Centre’s debut Community Meals program

“This is a place where everyone is welcomed with dignity; nobody is tested for the income they make to feel good about themselves. It’s a place where we can overcome barriers – both  physical and mental – and where community members don’t have to choose between rent and dinner,” explained Renee MacKillop, program manager at The Alex Centre, as she welcomed a team of Calgary Stampede employees to volunteer at the first ever community meal at the Calgary Community Food Centre.

Stampede employees arrived on the Stampede Trolley for a day ahead of helping out the community.

Stampede employees arrived on the Stampede Trolley for a day ahead of helping out the community.

The Alex Centre, since its inception in 1973, has saved millions in taxpayer dollars by moving people from poverty to stability and from crisis to wellness. Its focus is crisis prevention; as such, the community health, housing and food programs are aimed to break down social barriers.

The Alex Community Food Centre (CFC), the organization’s newest program, focuses on the importance of healthy food. The centre teaches community members the skills of cooking and shopping for healthy foods, and the importance of eating healthy to maintain energy and physical and mental wellness.

The Alex Centre focuses on providing individuals with the power, knowledge and skills to take control of their own lives.

The Alex Centre focuses on providing individuals with the power, knowledge and skills to take control of their own lives.

The Stampede Marketing & External Relations team was fortunate to be able to participate in the centre’s first ever community meal on Wednesday, January 25. The debut community meal was a partnership with the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary, a non-profit organization whose mandate is to provide social, cultural, education and employment services to Aboriginal people within the Calgary area. MacKillop provided insight into the collaboration for the debut event by saying “The Alex Community Food Centre is really a place for joy, health and sharing culture.”

To prepare for the community meal the Stampede team helped set up the space to welcome visitors – including preparing place settings for 120 guests, organizing the food health library, cleaning the area and helping to build furniture.

Two Stampede team members helped organize the community library of health-focused books.

Two Stampede team members helped organize the community library of health-focused books.

Before the meal began, representatives from the Aboriginal Friendship Centre blessed the space to provide positive intentions for moving the future. During the delicious, locally-sourced, meal, the Stampede team helped plate foods, serve guests and wash dishes. The menu consisted of fresh foods such as root vegetables, roasted acorn squash, beet salad, elk stew and home-made bannock.

The meal served was all locally-sourced and prepared in-house.

The meal served was all locally-sourced and prepared in-house.

“My favourite part of the day was when, after the guests finished eating, they all joined together to do a traditional dance, led by the Aboriginal Friendship Centre. I was so honoured to be invited into the dance circle where we all joined hands,” shared one Stampede participant. “It made me feel like we are all part of something greater, and all part of one community.”

The success of the debut community meal forecasted a busy future for the centre. Community meals will be served every second Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. at 3920 17 Ave SE. Fridays are fun too – The Alex provides drop-in smoothie making, where the smoothies are blended by the pedal-power of community members on stationary bikes. Learn more about The Alex Centre’s community programs here.