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.

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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.

Crowd

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.

Some of the most notable Calgary Stampede highlights from 2016

2016 was an eventful year for the Calgary Stampede: our bucking stock started and finished the year winning awards at international rodeos, we welcomed more than one million guests during the wettest Stampede since 1927, and Stampede Park hosted visitors year-round for many different ventures, including the Stampede’s first ever Fall Fair. Here’s a monthly recap highlighting only a few of the many milestones the Stampede saw this year.

January
The Calgary Stampede bucking stock brought in the new year in Denver with some big scores at the National Western Stock Show.
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NWSS photo by Sean Halverson, R-82 Reckless Margie

NWSS photo by Sean Halverson, R-82 Reckless Margie

February
The Calgary Stampede Indian Princess Vanessa Stiffarm flew to Australia for Destination Canada’s 2016 Canada Corrobree – a major tourism roadshow. Vanessa, along with other members from the Stampede and Travel Alberta, helped inform travel tour operators, wholesalers and media about all the incredible things Canada has to offer.
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February - IP in AUS

March
The Stampede’s Annual General Meeting was held in March. In addition to sharing the highlights from 2015, president & chairman of the board Bill Gray and chief executive officer Warren Connell gave insight into the Stampede’s future by speaking to the Stampede Park development plans. Connell noted that Youth Campus, the TransAlta Performing Arts Studios and Calgary Arts Academy were all well on their way, in addition to the future plans of expanding the BMO Centre, which would provide an estimated 500 full-time jobs and an added $73 million a year to the economy in Alberta and $87 million to Canada’s GDP.
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Bill Gray, president & chairman (L) Warren Connell, chief executive officer (R)

Bill Gray, president & chairman (L) Warren Connell, chief executive officer (R)

April
Aggie Days moved to their new home in the Agrium Western Event Centre. The lunchtime rodeo took place in the new arena and the animals and exhibits were arranged throughout the main level, in the exhibit hall and around the arena.
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With 77,000 Christmas Lights and 500 hours of work, Stampede Park has a beautiful public display for the holiday season

“I like my blue trees the best, they’re my signature look,” said Sandy McAfee, park maintenance supervisor and Christmas lights display expert, when asked about the stunning lights display across Stampede Park. McAfee shared that her team, which consist of two core lights-hangers, Kevin Smith and Glen Felt of the Park Maintenance team, as well as four to five additional helpers, bases the lights displays around the locations on Stampede Park. “We use blue and white for the BMO Centre, since those are BMO’s colours, and Stampede colours, red and white, for the Stampede Headquarters Building and main roadway.”

Christmas Lights Stampede Park

McAfee’s signature blue trees have been featured in a lot of surprising places – most notably, they were included digitally outside the Saddledome in one of the old NHL Hockey Xbox games!

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Where in the world is the Showband headed next?

The Calgary Stampede Showband is thrilled to announce that they will be travelling to compete in the World Music Contest (WMC) in Kerkrade, The Netherlands in summer 2017. WMC is the Olympics of music taking place over four weeks from Thursday, July 6 – Sunday, July 30, 2017. The event will feature more than 260 musical ensembles and 20,000 individual musicians. The Showband will be leaving right after Stampede to compete in the marching show band class on Sunday, July 30 against 60 other marching show bands from around the globe.

Photo credit: Kien Le

The Showband is a youth performance ensemble that rehearses and performs year round. Photo credit: Kien Le.

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The 2016 Cutting Horse Futurity saw tough competition, new technology and western spirit

It was a case of go big or go home.

Cayley, Alberta’s Dustin Gonnet knew he needed a big score in the second round of the Open Final at the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, after facing down a tough cow in the first round and having the judges penalize him.

“If I wouldn’t have been nailed with that hot quit, I might not have been near as aggressive as I was,” Gonnet said after the event, giving credit to the horse he was on, RPL Cat N Around, for eventually pulling off a big win in the class. “She is super confident about her job. She’s a show pony.”

Dustin Gonnet on RPL Cat N Around, owned by Ronald Patton of Nanton, Alberta

Dustin Gonnet on RPL Cat N Around, owned by Ronald Patton of Nanton, Alberta

As a National Cutting Horse Association sanctioned event, this year’s Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity attracted Canadian riders from across the prairies and American riders from as far afield as Texas.  In total, 331 horse-and-rider pairs competed in seven classes for a share of more than $355,000 in prize during the event October 12 to 16 in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

In the sport of cutting, each horse and rider is faced with a herd of cattle and just two and a half minutes on the clock. Working together they separate, or ‘cut’, a cow from the herd.  The rider then drops the reins and allows the horse to use its instincts, strength and agility to mirror the movements of the cow and keep it from the herd.  This can be repeated two more times as long as there’s time on the clock.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, and for guests interested in extra insight into each run, ‘Smart Bug’ personal listening devices were offered during the Saturday Night Cut of the West.

Earpieces

Used for the first time during the cutting at the Calgary Stampede in 2016, the ear buds were again extremely popular with the crowd at the Futurity on Saturday night.  Listeners were able to hear expert commentary and better understand the judging and incredible skills of the horses and riders.

Guests to the Saturday Night Cut of the West were also on hand for a very special award ceremony, as Travis Rempel was recognized as this year’s Calgary Stampede Western Elite Rider.

Calgary Stampede Western Elite Rider, Travis Rempel, with the Calgary Stampede Royalty and Western Performance Horse committee member

Calgary Stampede Western Elite Rider, Travis Rempel, with the Calgary Stampede Royalty and Western Performance Horse committee member

The award recognizes the incredible skills and success of the men and women who dedicate their talents and time to the versatility of the western performance horse.  Created in celebration of the three western performance horse events offered at the Calgary Stampede, the Team Cattle Penning competition, the Cutting Horse competition, and the Working Cow Horse Classic, the Western Elite Rider is awarded to the rider who earns the most points by placing in the top ten of at least two events.

A victory in the Open Finals of the Cutting Horse competition propelled Rempel to the top in 2016. Rempel says competing during the Stampede is a unique but incredible experience.

“It’s electric; the people, the music, the announcer and the fact that you’re here during the rodeo.” He says the honour of being named the Stampede’s Western Elite rider is extremely special to him, and it means even more to him to have achieved it surrounded by friends.

“To me the cool thing about this sport is that you can be in competition with someone, but they’re your friends and they want to you do well. It’s fun to be around. It’s the best.”

Full results from the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity are available here.

For SAIT’s 100th birthday: Stories of SAIT and the Stampede’s shared history

SAIT is turning 100 this year–pretty incredible. Did you know that SAIT may not have reached this momentous birthday if it wasn’t for the Calgary Stampede? During the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Air Force used SAIT’s buildings as a Wireless Radio Training School for Allied soldiers. Rather than see the school shut down, the Stampede stepped up and offered SAIT space to run its classes. SAIT used the Grandstand as its temporary school until 1944, and even ran classes in July.

SAIT teaching under the Stampede Grandstand 1940

SAIT teaching under the Stampede Grandstand, 1940

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What makes a great pie? Julie Van Rosendaal weighs in in anticipation of the Community Fall Fair this Saturday

 This Saturday, October 15, Stampede is hosting a Community Fall Fair in ENMAX Park. A free event featuring pumpkin spice pancakes, wagon rides, live music around the fire, pumpkin decorating AND a Best Pie in Calgary contest! Food blogger Julie Van Rosendaal will be one of the judges at the contest. Here she tells us what she thinks makes a great pie and shares her favourite Saskatoon Berry Pie recipe.

A wise friend once said that the best kind of pie was the kind on your table. I heartily agree – although I do love a good pie, its best qualities tend to be who made it, and why, and with what ingredients? There are crisp and flaky pastries and juicy, flavourful fillings – but the best kind of pie is the one shared among friends. We’ve started having regular pie parties, at which everyone is asked to show up with a pie, which makes everyone insanely happy. Not only is an excuse to make pie, but to eat it – and I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love a good pie.

saskatoon pie 2

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Get your fall cozy on at the Community Fall Fair with horse-drawn wagon rides, live music around the fire, a local market, pumpkin spice pancakes and more!

On Saturday, October 15, the Calgary Stampede will host its first Community Fall Fair in ENMAX Park. Since officially opening in June of 2016, the beautiful park has hosted the President’s Event and been home to Indian Village during Stampede time. The Community Fall Fair is simply one more event that will showcase the spectacular new green space within Stampede Park.
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Giving back to the community: Stampede volunteers paint the town

On Saturday, September 17, fourteen volunteers from the Community Projects & Development, Next Generation and Promotion volunteer committees participated in the City of Calgary’s Paint the Town program. Through Paint the Town, volunteers paint the exteriors of seniors’ homes, from the trim, to fences, to decks and railings.

The house we went to belongs to a senior who has lived in her home for 59 years–next year, will be her 60th anniversary in the house. She told us that she hadn’t done much to the home since her husband died five years ago.

Stampede Paint the Town

Stampede volunteers with the homeowner. She got to keep the hat!

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