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.


“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.


 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.


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.


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


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.


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. 


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.





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!

Continue reading

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.

Aggie Days 1993 - Holstein kid and calves (2)

Aggie Days dairy exhibit in the Agriculture Barns 1993

Continue reading

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.

Harry the Horse - March

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.

harry 1

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


“The Bronc Twister”

Every year, the Calgary Stampede thanks its parade marshal for leading the parade and embodying western values by presenting him or her with a replica bronze of “The Bronc Twister.”

Anyone who enters Stampede Park through the Main Entrance is familiar with this remarkable bronze, which was designed by Rich Roenisch, a southern Alberta artist and rancher. Roenisch based his bronze on a drawing and a unique story from the Victory Stampede of 1919.

Bronc Twister

After the end of the First World War in 1918, Guy Weadick, founder of the Calgary Stampede, bought a big sorrel horse with the brand I.C. on his neck. The I.C. meant that the horse had been “inspected” and “condemned” by the U.S. Army because he was no longer fit for the work demanded of an army horse. Weadick, however, believed that the horse was still healthy and could have a second lease on life as a working rodeo athlete. He purchased the horse and used him in the 1919 Victory Stampede.

Weadick decided to name his horse “I See You,” a play-on-words referencing both the horse’s brand and a drawing by the same name, which Weadick had selected to adorn the 1919 Calgary Stampede poster. Famous California artist Edward Borein had sketched an image of a bronc rider mid-buck, who appears to be looking down at the bronc’s head for a clue as to which direction he might twist next—the “I-See-U” reads as a friendly challenge between competitors.

The 1919 Calgary Stampede Poster

Borein’s drawing became a Stampede icon in the 1920s. It continues to represent the Stampede’s commitment to western hospitality and its celebration of animal athletes, which have been core values since Weadick’s first Stampede in 1912.

This year, Colleen Klein generously gifted back to the Stampede the bronze that was presented to Premier Ralph Klein when he was parade marshal in 2005. The bronze will be located in the Brand Room during Stampede time.

The Bronc Twister

Country’s new home in the City

Horses, cowboys and rural residents now have a custom-built, year-round home right in the heart of Calgary on Stampede Park.

The Calgary Stampede has officially opened the Agrium Western Event Centre – Canada’s premiere western event and agriculture education showcase. The building opened on Saturday, June 21, amid much fanfare of a community open house and a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony that featured federal Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification Michelle Rempel and Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Verlyn Olson.


The ultra-modern 150,000 sq. ft. building features an extra-large 2,500-seat specialized arena for equine and western events, a multi-purpose exhibit hall, and a grand rotunda entry that double as a week-day classroom for a unique educational program on sustainable agriculture. The Agrium Centre becomes the new focal point of horse and agriculture-related activities at Stampede Park. Visitors will experience it first during the Stampede July 4 to 13, and with more experiences this year when a series of new horse shows and competitions fill the building throughout the fall season.

“The Calgary Stampede is a world-class event, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world,” Minister Olson said when addressing the crowd on Saturday. “As the largest facility of its kind in Canada, the new Agrium Western Event Centre will be an incredible venue for education, entertainment and to showcase our agriculture industry.”


The Government of Canada and Government of Alberta each contributed $25 million towards the Agrium Centre as part of a series of recent agriculture infrastructure enhancements at Stampede Park that, together, cost $61.5 million. Agrium contributed as title sponsor of the building.

“We are thrilled that our partners shared in our vision of creating a world-class, year-round venue that connects urban and rural,” said Bob Thompson, President and Board chair of the Calgary Stampede. “This provides a gathering place for agriculture industries and associations, offers economic benefit to Calgary businesses, and ensures city residents have a regular connection to agriculture, horses and livestock all through the year.”


Agrium’s President and CEO Chuck Magro also spoke at the Agrium Centre’s grand opening, underlining how the building houses a unique global education program created by the Stampede and Agrium. “We’re thrilled to be part of making the Agrium Western Event Centre a reality at the Calgary Stampede,” said Magro. “This is a place to celebrate agriculture and to learn about sustainable farming practices, through the Journey 2050 program, as we work to feed 9 billion people globally by 2050.”

Journey 2050 coaches grade seven students to explore how the world will feed itself sustainably in the year 2050. Up to 70 students will gather at the building’s rotunda each weekday to experience an interactive inquiry-based personal and computer program that shows the results and impacts of their virtual farming choices.

Guests of the grand opening event marveled at the building’s size and the great sight-lines from the open concourse and seating areas. The behind-the-scenes features of the building were a hit with horse-owners who recognize the animal-friendly features built into every aspect of the handling, warm-up and performance areas.

grand opening

“We are bringing the Arabian Horse Association’s Western Canadian show to Calgary because of this building,” Arabian Association representative Allison Mostowich told the crowd. “Our first priority is always our horses, and we can tell from the way this building was designed, animals are the Stampede’s top priority as well. We’re looking forward to being the first big event here after the Stampede (July 21-26).”

A current listing of the horse shows, competitions and championship events being hosted this year at the Agrium Centre can be found at www.calgarystampede.com/AgriumCentre. Many are new to Calgary, with several events created with this new facility’s capabilities in mind.


Man Eating Chicken

One of the best parts about working for the Stampede is all of the unique stories you hear from such a variety of perspectives. Everyone has their own story to tell, and they are great to listen to because they are usually pretty funny!

Scooter Korek, Vice President – Client Services from North American Midway Entertainment has shared a few great stories with me, and they are always so entertaining. Scooter has worked with Conklin Shows and now North American Midway since 1977, and is looking forward to another Stampede.

Here is his story…


Back in the inception of the North American Carnival, around the turn of the 1900’s, the midways were primarily filled with Sideshows as there were not very many people manufacturing rides yet. A typical midway in the 1930’s consisted of a Merry Go Round, Ferris Wheel, Chair-o-Plane, Whip, Tilt-a–Whirl and 20 Side Shows comprising of  Illusion Shows, Freak of Nature Shows, Oddities Shows and more than likely a Girdle show,  30 or 35 games and 10 food stands.

The Sideshows were the staple of any midway and the entertainers were the vast majority of the shows employ’s. These shows garnered mass appeal and some greats that traveled Canada were; Dainty Dora the 700 pound women; Andre the Giant, Wrestler and Giant whom also holds the world beer drinking record; Zambora the Gorilla Girl, girl turns into Gorilla, you know the deal; Suzie Wong the Snake Girl,  Face of a beautiful women, but the body of an ugly snake. Ernie and Len, Siamese Twins;   Ten one One, which was a show that featured 10 freaks or oddities or illusions in one show for one price, The Sword Swallower, Pin head, Fire breathers; Knife throwing etc.; sometimes there would be Lif  e Shows which featured embryos at one month, two months to birth and War Shows, with guns and tanks. Once I saw Billy Reid and Horrors of Drugs Show, Billy was just a dimwitted kid that smoked too much pot, but the show did pretty good.

The Talkers out front (barkers) would create a buzz about the show.

“Alive, Alive. Alive on the inside, first time in Calgary, Suzie Wong the Snake girl!   From the back alleys of Hong Kong to the rice patties of China, it’s Suzie Wong The Snake Girl! How can it be, with the head of a beautiful woman to the body of an ugly snake – it’s Suzie Wong, Alive on the inside!”

Side shows did very well for show owners and provided a very good living for people with deformities that would otherwise struggle to find employment elsewhere.

Around the mid-1970’s the taste for entertainment changed, and public outcry that midway’s were exploiting people with deformities became exhaustive. Soon, fairs were feeling public pressure to do away with these types of attractions, which in turn, forced midway’s to abandon this type of presentation. Too bad, really – we sent a ton of good people to the unemployment line, without resource to find other employment. Where does a guy that drives 6 inch spikes into his head everyday for a living look for new work?


By the end of the 1970’s, Side Shows had been all but abandoned at the Calgary Stampede and Conklin Shows, Western Canadian tour.

In 1979, we decided to poke a little fun at the Canadian public that demanded the closure of the Side Show and developed a new show called “The Man Eating Chicken”. The show was billed as the “6 Foot Tall – Man Eating Chicken”


We promoted the Side Show in advance of each of the Western Canadian Exhibitions and as expected, the phone calls and letters started pouring in. The people were aghast that we would present such an attraction and we should be ashamed of ourselves.

The Edmonton Journal actually produced an editorial that ran prior to the opening of Klondike Days, condemning the exhibition of Side Shows in general and naming the Man Eating Chicken as a example of this type of damnation.

The only .25 cent show had a talker that promoted the oddity inside, and soon crowds flocked to the exhibition. Inside the customers were seated in a tent and the talker prepared the audience, with much anticipation, for what they were about to witness.

The lights dimmed, the spot light shone on stage and the curtain opened. Before their eyes was a 6 ft. tall kid sitting on the stage eating Kentucky Fried Chicken. Beautiful really.

The people generally laughed and the show prospered as the people whom had witnessed the event, told their family and friends that they must attend a viewing of the Man Eating Chicken.

This was the swan song for the Side Show culture.

- Scooter Korek


Meet the Calgary Stampede Historical committee

Exploring the Calgary Stampede archives, you will find drawers full of pins and pennants, binders full of postcards and photographs, old accounting books, rodeo and business records, past Royalty outfits carefully stored in dark, dust proof drawers, trophies, bronzes, souvenirs and much, much more. The Stampede’s volunteer Historical committee has been pivotal in collecting and maintaining this incredible collection, which will be brought to the public through the SAM Centre, when it opens in the new Youth Campus.

The Historical committee was formed to preserve, present and promote the history of the Stampede and its affiliates.


Until the SAM Centre opens, the Historical committee is busy bringing the Stampede history to life through their major and travelling display programs. The committee maintains major displays in the BMO Centre, the Scotiabank Saddledome and Mavericks restaurant. Every year, the displays feature a new theme. 2013 told the story of the Stampede OH Ranch, the 8,000 acre working cattle ranch gifted to the Calgary Stampede Foundation by Bill Siebens. The 2014 displays will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the new Grandstand.

During the 10-day Stampede at the Western Oasis, the committee collaborates with the Southern Alberta Pioneers and Their Descendants to create a display celebrating Stampede history.

For the 2012 Centennial, the Historical committee spearheaded a travelling display program, which brought Stampede history to schools, senior homes and Stampede breakfasts around Calgary. This year, the committee is designing new travelling displays that will enable them to bring Stampede history to more people year-round.

In conjunction with the Public Art committee and the assistance of the Government of Canada, the Historical committee commissioned the restoration of eight murals on Stampede Park. Weather and time had taken their toll on the original murals, which were painted in the 1990s. The Stampede was able to commission all of the original artists to paint the new murals, this time on metal rather than wood panels to bolster their longevity.

Mural restoration

One of the restored murals on Stampede Park

Throughout the years, the Historical committee has interviewed many of the people that have had an impact on the Stampede, including past Queens and Princesses, announcers, and Rodeo and Chuckwagon competitors. These oral histories will allow future generations to hear first-hand accounts of the history and evolution of the Calgary Stampede.

“This is an exciting time for our committee,” said Linda Clarkson, Historical committee chair. “We have worked hard over the years to find a way to properly display the archives and we’re so grateful Don Taylor donated the funds for the SAM Centre, which will allow us to bring the Stampede archives to the world. In the meantime, we continue to seek out ways to work with other committees to continue to bring Stampede history to the people of Calgary.”