Stampede employees train for emergency flood preparedness

On June 21, 2013, southern Alberta was forever changed as the largest flood to date washed through, destroying much that stood in its path. The Calgary Stampede’s blue bridge was washed away, the Infield tunnel and Indian Village were submerged, and buildings across Stampede Park were flooded. Though the results were devastating, the Stampede witnessed that the spirit of the city couldn’t be washed away.

Immediately following the flood, the Stampede took numerous measures to protect and build resiliency for Stampede Park. From 2013 to 2014, the Stampede gathered all information possible on the flood, implemented new flood-resilient design features on Stampede Park, updated their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and created a step-by-step outline document of how to handle flood situations. From the time the SOP was updated three years ago, Stampede employees have participated in live flood exercises annually.

“After exercises like this, we really feel more prepared,” said Calgary Stampede assets manager, park & facility services, Brian Hanley, referring to the emergency preparedness day Stampede employees took part in on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

Almost 50 Park & Facility services employees, including carpenters, plumbers, electricians, general labourers, administrative employees and team leads, participated in a practice live scenario for flood recovery on Stampede Park. “It took a lot of time, personnel and collaboration to bring the day together,” continued Hanley, “but the time spent preparing for the day, participating in the activities and regrouping afterwards was highly valuable.”

Flood Carts

Six prepared flood carts

Simultaneously, key members of the Stampede gathered for a tabletop exercise[1] of the same 1-100 level flood scenario. “This isn’t a one department or small group response.  An event of this scope and scale –which has the potential to cause significant negative impact to our operation-, requires an ‘all hand’s on-deck’ approach,” described Paul Burrows, security services manager, who oversees the Stampede’s Corporate Response & Resiliency Program (CRRP).

Stampede leaders from all departments across Stampede Park, from communications, people services, business services, sales & event management, security, parking, food & beverage, and more, discussed a play-by-play of what each department’s role would be during the 1-100 level flood scenario. These key crisis management employees discussed what to do as flood severity escalates. “Each business unit has a role. Whether it’s providing support for the initial response or assisting with the recovery and business continuity phase, everyone plays an important part,” added Burrows.

Burrows leading the tabletop exercise

Burrows leading the tabletop exercise

The same was true for the live exercise. “There are so many parts to practice, so every year we practise different tasks with different employees,” Hanley explained. “Our overarching goal is for everyone, no matter their job description, to be able to jump in and know exactly how to handle the situation.” This year, the Park & Facility Services employees practiced six of the approximately 25 measures outlined in the flood emergency preparedness procedure document.

One of the six tasks for 2017 was lowering the railings of the Stampede’s newest bridge, which replaced a bridge that was washed away in the 2013 flood. “This task was especially intriguing for our employees as this year was the first time we practised lowering the rails.” The new bridge was built specially with numerous flood resiliency features in mind. Lowering the rails will allow for water to flow smoothly over the bridge instead of being blocked and creating a dam situation. The employees also practiced removing the benches and planters along the bridge because in flood situations these items could cause damage or create blockages if the river carried them away.

Railings successfully lowered on the Stampede’s newest bridge

Railings successfully lowered on the Stampede’s newest bridge

Also in ENMAX Park and new for this year, the live exercise employees practised removing the panels from Sweetgrass Lodge. “They look like walls but are actually 4’x7’ panels,” described Hanley. Removing the panelled-walls of the stage area will allow for water to pass through smoothly and not create a blockage or dam.

The remaining of the exercises varied from staging flood carts, which are supplies transported to essential areas across Stampede Park, practising sandbagging doors to keep water out, activating sluice gates to keep water from coming up manholes, and fighting water with water. “We fill these large tubes with water and when they’re expanded they’re about three feet high and very durable. They can stop water in its path” said Hanley.

A washroom door sandbagged in ENMAX Park

A washroom door sandbagged in ENMAX Park

 

Stampede employees activating an E09 Sluice Gate

Stampede employees activating an E09 Sluice Gate

“After the live exercises are finished, we sit down and go over the day – and that’s when we really realize the small things that make the big differences,” Hanley continued. The same conclusion was found from Burrow’s tabletop exercise. “Even something as seemingly small as ‘gathering phone chargers’ is on our emergency preparedness list,” said Burrows. “And though people may chuckle at first, communication is essential in times of emergency so this small task is actually extremely essential.”

Feeling confident from the flood emergency preparedness day, Stampede employees are ready to take on the weather this year.

 

 

[1] Tabletop exercises have always been an annual tradition for the Stampede and cover a wide range of emergency situation topics. The flood tabletop is just one the larger series of emergency topics the CRRP covers.

 

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.

aaron

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

Stampede means a lot to this home-grown cowgirl

You might be surprised when I tell you that my favourite part about the Calgary Stampede is not those 10 special days in July. While I certainly love ‘dem little donuts, cheering on the eight-second rides and the occasional visit to Nashville North, there is so much more to the Calgary Stampede organization that influences Calgarians year round. The cowboy spirit has defined our city’s values, influenced how we do business and will inspire generations to come.

What originally attracted me to the Calgary Stampede is what is at the heart of the exhibition: the animals and particularly, the horses. I was first introduced to the Born to Buck breeding program by the most influential cowgirl in my life, my Nan. Growing up, we would often go check on the wild horses as part of our farm chores. Their grace, strength and gentleness never cease to amaze me. Did you know the Stampede has a 600-head herd of horses–some of the finest rough stock in the world? I am honoured to be an advocate for the Stampede livestock and I truly am excited about promoting the Born to Buck breeding program and Calgary Stampede’s commitment to animal care.

bucking stock

Continue reading

Introducing the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch Historical Centre

In late 2016, the Calgary Stampede Foundation hosted the first tour of the OH Ranch Historical Centre, which illuminates the long and storied history of the OH Ranch. The Historical Centre is located in the basement of the OH Ranch Cookhouse.

OH Ranch Jan 2015_S Murray pics (2)

Previously, cowboys used the basement of the cookhouse as a bunkhouse. The room was complete with 60s era shag carpet and a few old couches. Now, thanks to the Foundation and generous donors, the basement has been revitalized into an inviting educational space.

Students of the OH Ranch Educational Program and visitors to events at the ranch can learn about past and present owners, like Bill Siebens who donated the OH Ranch to the Calgary Stampede Foundation in 2012. They can also see a bison coat and learn about the role of the North West Mounted Police police in western Canada, and come face to face with a bison head and learn about the original inhabitants of the land—First Nations peoples.

16OHopening0124

16OHopening0080

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students can try on cowboy clothing and learn about the jobs of ranch hands who have lived and worked at OH Ranch.

16OHopening0075

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or, follow a timeline that traces the OH from its origins into the future.

16OHopening0067

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, the Calgary Stampede is the steward of the OH Ranch, which is protected as a Heritage Rangeland with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The rich history and tradition that are lived every day on the ranch is now preserved and shared in the OH Ranch Interpretive Centre.

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.

Continue reading

Meeting horses and other adventures at Stampede School

When was the first time you got to pet a horse? For many Calgary students, it’s at Stampede School. Professional horse trainer Muffy Knox visits Stampede school almost every week with two equine assistants and the goal to teach kids about horse communication and the proper way to handle and look after horses.

Muffy Knox Stampede School

Continue reading

Back to school: 10 fascinating facts about our earth, sustainability and agriculture from Journey 2050

Well, this week is back to school—and while many people will be sharing their “What I did this summer” stories, we are asking: What are you excited to learn about this year?

Here’s something to get your wheels turning: How will we sustainably feed the world in 2050?

Whoa, that is a big question! And this question is at the heart of a one-of-a-kind education program for grade 7-12 students at the Agrium Western Event Centre on Stampede Park. It’s called Journey 2050.

Journey 2050_1

Journey 2050 students

Intrigued? Here are 10 things students learn in just one day about the challenges our world faces, sustainability and agriculture: Continue reading

Why colour guard is the unexpected sport your child should try this year

When you’re wondering what sport or activity your child should try this year, colour guard usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind – but it should be! Colour guard is what we call the group of athletes/performers/dancers that twirl flags and toss (fake) rifles in front of marching bands. They’re extremely impressive but no one really knows how to join a colour guard, how you learn those skills, or what the colour guard does when they aren’t leading a parade. To answer these questions and more, the Escalade Winter Guard Association is hosting a colour guard Youth Development Camp this month, providing beginner instruction in dance, flag, and rifle skills – perfect for youth of all ages! Plus, if your tween/teen likes it, they can sign up to join the Calgary Round Up Band or Calgary Stetson Show Band this season. Still not convinced? We’ve got 8 reasons your kid should give colour guard a try this summer:

1. They don’t call it the “sport of the arts” for nothing! Colour guard is called the “sport of the arts” because it brings music to life through performance in a competitive format. Performers demonstrate skill, agility, strength and endurance through choreographed movement, dance and use of props set to music to tell a story. Every season, colour guards rehearse several times a week to prepare for competitions. They make it look easy, but it takes a huge amount of skill to gracefully spin and toss colour guard equipment.

The Stampede Showband is an auditioned group for youth ages 16-21. Taylor Fraser, pictured here, is preparing to toss her "rifle" into the air, so it'll spin six times, and then catch it. Photo: End Credits

The Stampede Showband is an auditioned group for youth ages 16-21. Taylor Fraser, pictured here, is preparing to toss her “rifle”. It’ll spin in the air, and she’ll catch it without missing a beat. Photo: End Credits.

The coaches and instructors are seasoned veterans who have performed and competed at the highest levels. Many of the instructors with Calgary’s colour guard ensembles performed with the Calgary Stampede Showband and Drum Corps International (DCI) ensembles, and continue to compete in local elite ensembles like Escalade. Continue reading

7 Things Musicians (and everyone else) Should Know About Being Around Horses

Since 1985, the Calgary Stampede Showriders have been accompanying the Stampede Showband in parades as a mounted colour guard made up of 12 young riders and their horses. This pairing of horses and marching musicians is unusual and a lot of prep work goes into making sure that the horses are comfortable with the band.

Every year, the Showband and Showriders rehearse together to help desensitize the horses to the craziness of parades, and teach the Showband how to act around horses. It’s a great opportunity for the mostly city-dwelling band members to learn more about agriculture and animal care, especially since the Showband spends a lot of time around animals during the 10-day Calgary Stampede. Here’s a peek at what they learned from the Showriders this year!

Showrider Hannah Braun, 15 years old, and her horse Tokahee teach a group of Showband members about performing around horses.

Showrider Hannah Braun and her horse Tokahee giving a group of Showband members tips for being around horses.

 1. Don’t run through the barns

You don’t want to turn a corner and run into or startle a horse. Don’t jump for the same reason.

2. Use your inside voice

Shouting and screaming can upset horses. Horses are reactive and pick up on the energy of other people an animals around them.

3. Stay a horse length away from a horse’s back-end

That way, even if the horse kicks out, you’ll avoid getting kicked.

Showband member Cassie Groves got to bond with Tohakee, petting the horse from the side so as not to startle the horse.

Showband member Cassie Groves pets Tokahee from the side so that she doesn’t startle the horse.

 4. Ask permission before approaching horses or offering them treats

Sometimes, like with the Showrider “Stand and Pat” events, it’s obvious that you’re welcome to approach a horse. If you’re walking through the barns or see a horse on its own, ask the owner if it’s okay to pet the horse. This is the best way to avoid getting bitten!

5. Approach horses from the side

Horses have blind spots directly in front and behind them. A horse can see you best if you approach from the side and pet their shoulders and back. Plus, if you approach a horse head-on and try to pet its face, it might think your fingers are treats – yikes!

6. Never play instruments while you’re walking through the barns

Sudden movements and unexpected loud noises can startle horses and they might react to the sight of shiny instruments and noise from musical instruments more than you’d expect.

 7. Ask questions

The Showriders love to answer questions about their horses. They spend a lot of time caring for their horses to keep them healthy and happy and are eager to share what they know with others, especially if it helps to keep their horses and others safe.

 

The Young Canadians kick off preparation for 2016 Grandstand Show

Taking a quick glance around the room, one might not realize they were surrounded by some of the most talented youth in Calgary.

But in about two months’ time, these youngsters will be performing in front of about 20,000 people every night at the Calgary Stampede TransAlta Grandstand Show.

The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede got their first look at Grand Spectacular, the 2016 edition of the Grandstand Show.

When it was revealed May 5, The Young Canadians celebrated the start of a new show and big journey ahead. The very next day, they would already be hard at work and ready to learn the production numbers.

Brian Foley addresses The Young Canadians

Show director Brian Foley addresses The Young Canadians at the official kick off night.

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

Showband 2016: In Pursuit

The Calgary Stampede Showband is thrilled to announce its 2016 production, In Pursuit. Inspired by classic heist films and television, the production will take the Showband’s audiences on an intriguing and exciting chase as the band tracks down a stolen briefcase. Check out the quick teaser trailer below!

In Pursuit will feature music including Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint”, John Powell’s “Tangiers”, Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s “Equilibrium”, Adele’s “Skyfall”, and the theme from The Streets of San Francisco. Oscillating between minimalist, comical, and dramatic elements, this production will have a wide emotional range. According to the Calgary Stampede’s Director of Bands Aaron Park, In Pursuit will be both suspenseful and fun. “It’s not necessarily a story about detectives or spies, although it has that same feeling of mystery and intrigue. It’s sort of a ‘catch me if you can’ story; everyone is after the same elusive briefcase and what may be inside. “Electric Counterpoint” is woven throughout the show as a recurring motif to bring out that feeling of pursuit, mystery, and intrigue.”

Continue reading

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

ThinkstockPhotos-80408435

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!

 

Highlights from the 2016 Calgary Stampede Annual General Meeting

Positivity and progress were reoccurring themes at the Calgary Stampede’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Shareholders gathered at Stampede Park to vote for the board of directors, receive financial and shareholder updates, and hear from president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray, and chief executive officer, Warren Connell.

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

Gray spoke of the milestones celebrated in 2015, including the Stampede’s new partnership with the Calgary Opera to create a new opera space on Stampede Park, and of the achievements of the Stampede’s many youth education and development programs. “When I started as the Stampede’s president & chairman of the board, I knew that our organization, on a year-round basis, was very committed to youth education.  What I did not appreciate was the breadth and extent of our involvement in those programs,” he said. Continue reading

History moment: Calgary Stampede remembers some of our greatest female contributors for International Women’s Day

To celebrate the centennial of Alberta women achieving the right to vote and International Women’s Day on March 8, let’s take a look at some of the pioneering women of western performances and rodeo who competed at the first Calgary Stampede. Continue reading