Meet Noran Calf Robe, Indian Village Tipi Owner from Siksika Nation

This year, Indian Village moves to ENMAX Park. The 26 tipis represent the five nations of Treaty 7: Kainai, Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda, Siksika and Piikani. Each tipi has a unique design on the outside. Approximately 500 people will live in Indian Village during the 10 days, with daily performances adding another 1,000 people per day. More than 40 competitions and events take place in Indian Village during the July Stampede.

We caught up with tipi owner Noran Calf Robe whose family has been attending the Calgary Stampede for more than 100 years.

Visitors to Indian Village may recognize recurring tipis and owners year-after-year. The tipi painted with a buffalo belongs to the Calf Robes and has been a part of the Calgary Stampede from the beginning. Continue reading

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

John Philip Sousa and the Calgary Stampede Showband

John Philip Sousa, the American conductor and composer who popularized the sousaphone, has a special connection to the Calgary Stampede. The Calgary Stampede Showband is playing Sousa’s “The Thunderer” (1889) as part of its concert band repertoire this year, but the connection doesn’t end there. Sousa and his band, the “Sousa Band” actually visited the Calgary in 1919 and performed at the Calgary Exhibition.

1919_tnSousa’s band toured all over the world following the end of WWI and was exceptionally popular because Sousa had combined everything he liked about other types of ensembles (brass bands, military bands, orchestras, and beer hall bands) to create something different. Photos from the Glenbow Archives show that there was a huge audience when Sousa’s band performed in Calgary. Sousa was known as the “march king” for composing and arranging patriotic marches, so it makes a lot of sense that the Showband and other marching bands continue to play his music.

The Showband performed “The Thunderer” at its annual Celebration Concert earlier this month, and will perform it again when it competes in the Alberta International Band Festival on February 21 at the Rosza Centre. Continue reading

2016 Calgary Stampede poster and the poster artwork legacy

The Calgary Stampede unveiled our 2016 poster in the Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery of the Calgary Public Library’s central branch on October 5, 2015. Community members and Stampede volunteers and employees were thrilled when the curtain pulled back to reveal the priceless piece by award-winning local artist, Michelle Grant: Born to Buck, pictured below.

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“When you visit the Stampede Ranch in Hanna [Alberta], you witness many scenes of horses running freely in the fields together,” said Bill Gray, president & chairman of the Calgary Stampede board of directors, “and that was the inspiration for the poster.” Continue reading

Queen Mick’s Farewell

Hello there!

Seeing as I will soon be passing my crown, I feel as though I should get one last blog post in.

This past year has been nothing short of a great adventure. As with all life’s adventures, there were some highs and some lows, unexpected turns and a few plateaus, but most of all there were many, many memories made with wonderful people.

As my reign draws to an end many people are asking if I am sad that it’s almost over. I have to admit that after the unforgettable 10 days of the Calgary Stampede, I lamented a bit knowing that I would never be able to relive those 10 days. However, I entered this year knowing that it would inevitably come to an end, so while I could be sad and drag my heels, I have chosen to embrace this season and be nothing short of excited; excited for the next three young ladies who will be crowned and excited about my next chapter of life.

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 Addressing the Grandstand during the Afternoon Rodeo.

This year’s competition brought out many extremely talented, smart, courageous, and beautiful ladies. I am sure glad I am not a judge; they have a very tough job to do! Whichever three ends up winning will certainly have earned the title. Continue reading

September is a Royal Month at the Calgary Stampede

The month of September has brought some major Royalty milestones throughout the Stampede’s 103-year history. Shannon Murray, historical specialist, walks us through this history as we eagerly prepare for the crowning of the 2016 Royalty Trio on Monday, September 28 at 7:30pm in the Agrium Western Event Centre on Stampede Park.

The first Stampede was held September 2-5, 1912. The event coincided with a visit from Their Royal Highnessess Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught (Canada’s Governor General), Princess Louise Margaret and their daughter Princess Patricia. The family stayed with Senator James Lougheed and his wife Lady Isabella at their home on 13th Avenue SW and attended the first Stampede Parade as well as a few Rodeo events. Ever the showman, Guy Weadick had a special welcome arch set up for the royals in an effort to draw more spectators to his event.

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The Duke and Duchess of Connaught, riding in a carriage, pass under the “God Save the King” arch, specially built to welcome Their Royal Highnesses to Calgary.

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The special box seats created for the Duke and Duchess of Connaught as they attended the first Calgary Stampede Rodeo in 1912. Continue reading

2015 Aboriginal Awareness Family Day Festival and Pow Wow Competition

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The 2015 National Aboriginal Week festivities included an exciting full day of cultural exchange on Stampede Park. On Saturday, June 20, Indian Village hosted a family day Pow Wow. For First Nations peoples, the Pow Wow is a chance to connect with family and old friends, in addition to making new friends.

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The day began with a free pancake breakfast, followed by the grand entry and opening remarks, a pow wow, Métis jigging and hoop dancing. Former Grand National Chief Phil Fontaine, and the comedian Don Burnstick also spoke to the crowds. 

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Pictured: a buffalo float contribution to the 2015 Parade. The first Stampede Parade took place on September 2, 1912. It was lead by 1,800 Treaty 7 First Nations people in full regalia. Today, it’s one of the largest parades in North America, second only to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

 

 

 

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Pictured: Indian Princesses-in-training practicing their fancy dance moves.

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Kaillie Humphries is the 2015 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal!

Today we made the exciting announcement that two-time Olympic bobsleigh gold medalist, Kaillie Humphries, will lead the 2015 Parade!

Pictured: Kaillie Humphries,   native Calgarian, two-time Olympic gold medalist, 2014 Lou Marsh Award winner for Canada's top athlete and 2015 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal!

Pictured: Kaillie Humphries, native Calgarian, two-time Olympic gold medalist, 2014 Lou Marsh Award winner for Canada’s top athlete and 2015 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal!

President & chairman Bill Gray and Humphries made their grand entrance in a horse drawn carriage! Humpries’ bobsleigh helmet concealed her identity until Gray announced her name to the eager crowd.

Humphries confessed to the audience “when I got the call, I almost peed my pants!” She described her memories of growing up in Calgary and her mother dragging her up out of bed at the crack of dawn to get the best seats for the Calgary Stampede Parade*. Continue reading

Around the world in five pancakes

Flour, water, eggs–you can mix these simple ingredients, then flip em’, fry them or bake them to make a pancake. Pancakes are a universal food that can be eaten savory or sweet, at the Calgary Stampede, we like our pancakes hot and toasty, with a healthy serving of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Pictured: It's all in the wrists! Calgary Stampede volunteers and employees are passionate pancake flippers. We've trained year-round to be able to bring you the best in the west breakfast and a show.

Pictured: It’s all in the wrists! Calgary Stampede volunteers and employees are passionate pancake flippers. We’ve trained year-round to be able to bring you the best in the west breakfast and a show.

To kick off the Stampede season, we’ve decided to do things a little differently this year: partner with the SAIT Culinary Campus to celebrate the unique international offerings in Calgary!

Pictured: Chef Bruno Lesage with his custom Blintz, Kimchi Pancake, Potato Pancake and Arepa recipe creations!

Pictured: Chef Bruno Lesage with his custom blintz, kimchi pancake, raggmunk and cachapas recipe creations!

On Monday, June 8 we will be featuring pancakes from around the world, including Venezuelan Cachapas (corn based), Swedish Raggmunk (potato based), Eastern European Blinis (buckwheat flour based), Korean Kimchi pancakes (flour based), and of course, Calgary Stampede’s renowned western pancake.

We’ll be serving up FREE samples between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Stephen Avenue outside the SAIT Culinary Campus. Be sure to stop by and taste one (or several) international pancakes!

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Celebrating 35 years of the Stampede Talent Search

Since 1980, the Stampede Talent Search has been providing a platform for young, amateur performers to demonstrate their talent. Thirty-five years of Talent Search Champions have gone on to become Juno Award winning artists, International hit-makers, and Canadian and World Champions. And it’s all because of a man named Don Welden.

Welden was the Stampede Entertainment Manager, who was convinced that free entertainment would be an important way to enhance the guest experience on Stampede Park. After a trip to Memphis, TN, to watch a talent competition at the Tennessee State Fair, Welden was convinced that a competition format would be valuable to young performers and exciting for the audience to watch.

Welden set about inviting amateur singers, dancers and musicians to compete in a talent competition held during Stampede time. As the competition grew in popularity, he then established a volunteer committee. The competition grew in scope—sponsors soon aligned themselves with the event, and the size of the committee grew to administer a now marquee, Canada-wide event.

In 2014, Kaleigh-Jo Kirk was the recipient of the Don Welden Award for most Promising Performer of the competition. (Photo credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

Kaleigh-Jo Kirk was the 2014 recipient of the Don Welden Award for Most Promising Performer. (Photo credit: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

In 1988, the Stampede Talent Search committee created an award to honor Welden’s legacy. The Don Welden Most Promising Performer Award is given out annually to a contestant, selected by the committee, who demonstrates Welden’s values of integrity, commitment to their craft and congeniality.

The Stampede Talent Search is a must-see event during Stampede time. Free with park admission, talented performers ages six to 21 from across Canada entertain audiences nightly on a professional stage with a live band. This year, the top senior performer will earn $10,000 cash in addition to a valuable development package from the Calgary Stampede and a custom, one-of-a-kind Stampede Talent Search belt buckle.

If you’d like to see tomorrow’s next big star shine on our stage, preliminary performances start Friday, July 3 to Tuesday, July 7. Semi-finals are Thursday, July 9 and Friday, July 10, and the finals are held on Saturday, July 11. All performance begin at 6 p.m. and are held in the Boyce Theatre on Stampede Park.

Aggie Days then and now

Aggie Days, taking place from April 8 – 12 at Stampede Park, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. This educational program, which features displays, exhibits, animals and more, has grown significantly over the years.

In 1986, the first Aggie Days program was created for school children to experience agriculture up-close and learn where their food comes from. Aggie Days took place in a small part of the Agriculture Barns and featured a few exhibits and animals, mainly dairy cattle. The school classes were accompanied by a tour guide that took them through the exhibits, through the show cattle at the dairy classic, and made sure the students arrives at their scheduled demos on time.

In the years following, the Aggie Days team added to the animal experience by providing sheep shearing, cow milking demonstrations and wagon rides pulled by heavy horse teams. The experience of what life is like on a farm was beginning to round out. All of the demonstrations showcased the importance of agriculture and the various types of agricultural roles that shape our world.

Aggie Days’ success thrived; the classes returned, year after year, and the committee was eager to exceed their expectations. The interest youth had in agriculture was a driving force to heighten their Aggie Days experiences; even more exhibits were added. Cattle presentations, rope making demonstrations, butter making, wheat grinding and bread making were new highlights of Aggie Days. At this time, Aggie Days grew to occupy half of the Agriculture Barns and expanded into the Victoria Pavilion, which was used for the cow milking and sheep shearing demonstrations, and the noon hour entertainment.

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Aggie Days dairy exhibit in the Agriculture Barns 1993

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Harry the Horse turns 30!

Harry the Horse made his first public appearance on March 14, 1985 at Rodeo Royal, and he has been charming Stampede audiences ever since. During Stampede time, Harry makes about 100 appearances every day. He spends the rest of the year attending events all over Alberta and throughout the world.

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Harry posing in a jet outside the Scotiabank Saddledome

Harry’s Predecessors: Jim Dandy and Nellie

The Stampede’s first mascots were Jim Dandy and Nellie, an old-timer riding his trusty mare with a bushy tail. One year, Jim and Nellie attended the President’s Ball of the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. They gave the event some much-needed western spirit.

Unfortunately when Jim and Nellie turned to leave, Nellie’s bushy tail knocked right through a table, sending wine and more onto guests! Poor Jim and Nellie were put out to pasture shortly thereafter, and Harry the Horse was called to step in and take over.

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Jim Dandy and Nellie entertaining the crowd

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Stampede Stories with Oliver Perry

Born in 1919, Oliver Lewis Perry spent much of his youth exploring Guy Weadick’s ranch near High River. He remembers Guy Weadick and Flores La Due fondly, saying that when he was over, “Mr. Weadick did the cooking…he’d have pancakes.”

In September, the Calgary Stampede Historical committee had the opportunity to interview Perry about his life and his memories of Weadick and La Due.

Perry was born in Kamloops, BC, on July 12, 1919. Before Perry started school, his family relocated to central Alberta, and later Banff. Then, around 1928, his father took a job in High River.

Perry remembers his first encounter with Weadick and La Due: his father’s manager asked Perry if he “wanted to go fishing”; naturally, the 10-year-old agreed. He thus joined the crew hauling supplies up the Highwood River and, in his words, became the “official gate opener.” He ended up staying overnight at Weadick and La Due’s ranch while the crew continued up the river. That visit started a 30-year relationship with the founder of the Calgary Stampede, Guy Weadick, and world-renowned trick rider Flores La Due.

Guy Weadick