The 2016 Stampede is already at the halfway mark – but there are still tons of events for guests to check out this week, including the many shows that are included with your admission such as the Canine Stars, Bell Adrenaline Ranch and Peking Acrobats – so here are two quick and easy recipes from the Calgary Stampede Kitchen to keep your energy high.
The Canine Stars prove it’s possible for any dog to become a confident show dog because most of the dogs featured in the shows have been rescued or adopted.
Ray, one Canine Star, was found on the street when he was only two-years old, with his sister. Any loud or sudden noise would make Ray cower with fear and hide. Now, one of the stars of the Stampede’s new show, the cheers and claps from the audience motivate and encourage him to do the tricks. “We use only positive reinforcement on the dogs,” explained the show’s host, “encouraging them with toys, treats and praise – including cheering and clapping!” The louder the audience members would cheer, the faster the dogs would run and the higher they’d jump.
After hearing Ray’s story, and seeing his confidence catching the Frisbee time and time again, the announcer let the audience in on the secret of training your own pooch at home to catch the Frisbee in long distances and stunts. Continue reading
From humble beginnings on a farm in Holland, one BMO Farm Family’s Alberta agriculture involvement has grown substantially over the years. “We moved here in 1954, just one week after our wedding” said Margaret Rommens, who grew up on a farm in Holland. Margaret and her husband Adrian began their Canadian journey by worked for other Albertan farmers, while saving up to one day buy their own land. In 1971, the couple had saved enough to purchase three quarters of land and begin their own operation.
“Irrigation was new to us, but we had to start somewhere and take the opportunity,” Margaret explained. “And good thing we did because we’ve been quite successful.” In less than 30 years, the operation had grown from 30 dairy cattle to 120 – and continued to expand from there, with approximately 200 head today, which are all purebred Holsteins. Along with the number of cattle, the Rommens family grew as well – Margaret and Adrian had six children, and now have several grandchildren, many of whom are in their twenties deciding on career paths (including university graduates with medical doctor and finance degrees).
Nap pods have become the envy of the corporate world; they have risen in popularity and studies have shown that employee productivity increases when nap pods are an option in the office. Today I lived my corporate fantasy of napping at work – in the Casper nap pod on the Stampede Midway.
Spending 12 of their 225 travel days per year at the Calgary Stampede, the Express Clydesdale team couldn’t be happier. “We love Calgary! We absolutely love it here,” exclaimed Michael Honhner of the Express Hitch team, from Oklahoma. The Express Clydesdales came to the Stampede this year to participate in the Heavy Horse Show, where they won Best in Show last year, and while they’re here they will also act as the feature hitch during the GMC Rangeland Derby. Their first Stampede award of 2016 came at the Stampede Parade, where the team was awarded Best Heavy Horse 6 and 8 Horse Hitch Commercially owned.
With more than 350 confirmed attendees, Charles Macmichael encouraged members of the LGBTQ community to celebrate together in Stampede Spirit at Nashville North on the first Saturday of Stampede. “We have been doing this unofficially for [a while] now and it continues to be amazing, grow in number and in fun. Last year we had over 300 attendees! This is a great way to enjoy new friends, meet amazing guys and gals and get your western wear on,” Macmichael wrote on the Facebook event page.
The Facebook event page was shared with approximately 1,500 people – among them, were Stampede employees – team lead, marketing, Jenn Mayuga, and manager, organizational communications, Kathryn Jenkins. Mayuga and Jenkins immediately got to work to help Macmichael’s guests feel welcomed by creating and printing out Calgary Stampede stickers featuring a rainbow cowboy boot beside the CS logo.
“We wanted to show support and extend our western hospitality to all of the attendees of this unofficial event,” explained Mayuga. “As the gathering place for the community during Stampede time, we were excited and appreciative that they chose Stampede Park as the venue to come together to celebrate; and we hope they have a good time today!”
Standing between a band marching towards me in one direction, and a golf cart full of paraphernalia driving by in another, Parade committee member Sharon Spooner looked at me, smiled, and said, “This is it! This is the fun part!” There was a lot that went on behind the scenes of the Calgary Stampede Parade and these were just a few of the moments that stood out to me.
1. There was a larger-than-life bull on the sidewalk, who may or may not have been parked illegally.
Axe throwing, deep fried tequila shots, a 45-foot tall spinning ride, an international pavilion, a fire-lit tight-rope walker and a beautiful, new, 16-acre park are just a few of the new offerings to check out this Stampede. What’s your Stampede thing?
1. Ride the Stampede’s new ride
A new ride means a new opportunity for challenging yourself and your friends; Spin Out is a 45-foot tall rotating claw that spins you in every way imaginable – including spinning while you’re hanging upside down! For information on our other rides and ride packages, check out: http://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/attractions/midway
2. Watch rescue dogs perform jaw-dropping tricks at the Dog Bowl
These rescue dogs and dogs adopted from shelters, of multiple sizes and breeds, prove that you can do anything you set your mind to, and overcome any obstacles in your way; watch as these dogs defy gravity through freestyle Frisbee disc, flyball racing and high jumping agility demonstrations. Be sure to stay until the end of the show for the exhilarating dock diving act. Canine Stars will motivate you to go home and train your pooch a new trick or two.
The Dog Bowl will feature six shows daily with room for more than 2,000 dog lovers per show. Daily shows are at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. In addition, on Suncor Family Day and BMO Kids’ Day, the first show will be at 10:30 a.m. Sneak-A-Peek on Thursday, July 7 will feature two shows at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
3. Relax by the river in Indian Village’s new home in the brand new ENMAX Park
Stampede Park’s newest green space, a beautiful inner city public park and gathering space, is the new home to Indian Village presented by Penn West. Located by the MacDonald Entry, and across the bridge from Kids’ Midway, you can experience a number of activities at Indian Village including daily dance demonstrations and tipi raising competitions, cooking demonstrations over a an open fire, and traditional arts and crafts created by Treaty 7 artisans. Don’t forget that the Bannok Booth has also moved with Indian Village to ENMAX Park so be sure to grab some doughy goodness and relax and enjoy it on the lush green grass.
Indian Village’s first event, the Opening Ceremonies and Camp Moving Ceremony on Friday, July 8, the first day of the 2016 Calgary Stampede.
It could be considered a pretty high-stress situation. But Kurt Bensmiller is keeping his cool about this year’s Calgary Stampede.
“I’ll be going there to win, just like every year,” he says. “Whether the cards are in my favour? We’ll see in mid-July.”
What Bensmiller and many others will be waiting to see, is whether he can capture a third straight championship at the Calgary Stampede’s GMC Rangeland Derby. Only three men have ever managed that in the event’s long and storied history. Rolling in to the first races of the season, Bensmiller is not letting that get to him.
“If there’s any pressure, it will be what I put on myself,” he says, adding he’s feeling good about the strength and depth of his barn with 16 new horses added to his team of veterans this spring. But in Calgary, 35 other chuckwagon drivers will be looking to turn up the heat, setting their sights on knocking Kurt Bensmiller from that top spot. Among them – his younger brother, Chance.
“If anyone dethrones him, I hope it’s me.” For years Chance Bensmiller has worked with Kurt, training in the spring at his elder brother’s home. But after getting the call from the Calgary Stampede this past fall, Chance decided to change things up.
“I decided to take a different approach on my own, to focus solely on my own horses. I had some things I had to work out.” Despite making the decision to train separately this season, Bensmiller still maintains a strong connection to all of his family in the sport, including father and former Stampede Champion Buddy Bensmiller.
“A lot of guys don’t have a big family like mine. Having my dad, Kurt and brother-in-law Vern (Nolin), that family support is huge.” While Kurt is the recipient of much of their father’s assistance, Chance claims another family advantage – brother David, a talented and much sought after outrider.
“David’s my first call,” says the younger Bensmiller. “Words can’t even describe how much pressure is lifted off my shoulders knowing he is holding my lead team when the horn blows.” For Kurt, family is a big part of what brought him into the sport, and what keeps him racing.
“That’s one of the biggest reasons I got into this,” he says, adding “Not many people can love their job as much as I do and be lucky enough to share it with family like I do.”
As for sharing the wagon box this summer at the Stampede, like they have in the past, both Bensmiller brothers are hoping it just won’t be possible.
“Hopefully we’re both in late heats, and too close” Kurt says with a smile in his voice. “We’ll be too close to help each other. That’s a good thing.”
The Bensmillers are among four sets of brothers set to compete at the Calgary Stampede in 2016. There are also four father-son combinations.
The Calgary Stampede Band of Outriders was formed in 1991 and is known for sharing their musical version of western hospitality to local crowds and thousands of Calgary visitors every day during the 10-day Stampede. Andrea Khoury, an Outriders alumna and founding member of the band, wrote this poem to celebrate the Outriders’ 25th anniversary. Enjoy!
There are strange things done in the name of fun by the geeks who toil in the band.
The Stampede trails have the oddest tales that have traveled throughout the land.
The midway lights have seen great sights but the greatest they ever did see
Was the group that was formed, out of old drums and horns, by people like you and me.
Now old Bobby E was from Calgary, where the marching bands twirl and blow.
Why he left his room at the school to groom new musicians we’ll never know.
He started with Round-up, then moved on to Showband with Stetsons to follow in time
And by ninety-one, Mr. Eklund not done, it was time for a new band to shine.
Life is always interesting at the Stampede Ranch, but springtime is something special.
“It’s my favourite time of the year,” says Calgary Stampede ranch manager Tyler Kraft. “After a long winter, spring comes and the grass starts to turn green. But the best part is the babies.”
The little ones started to make their arrivals on the Stampede’s 22,000 acre property near Hanna, Alberta mid-April. Still in full baby-mode, Kraft and ranch hand Charlie McKinnon are busy watching over the new moms and pregnant mares, which have been brought up close to the ranch buildings for the season. While hands-on with the mares if they need to be, the men know the horses would sooner just be left alone to give birth. And it’s never long before the foals are up, active and – hopefully – hungry.
“The most crucial thing early on is making sure they are up on their feet and getting the essential first nutrients from their mother’s milk,” says Kraft, adding “they’ll stay with their mothers for about eight months before they are weaned.”
With bucking in their blood, these wobbly-legged foals hold the promise of one day becoming powerful rodeo competitors. Part of the Born to Buck program, they will eventually be introduced into the herd of more than 600 horses at the Stampede Ranch.
Nearly two dozen babies have been born so far, with dramatic weather swings adding a unique twist to the already busy time. Temperatures in the high twenties one week turned into three straight days of snow the next. But despite a foot and a half of snow, Kraft says the temperatures didn’t drop enough to cause problems. In fact, the snow was welcomed.
“It’s much needed moisture. With the warm weather, this spring has been very dry. This snow will give the grass a good start.”
At the Calgary Stampede’s historic OH Ranch, just down the road from Longview, Alberta, the weather is also proving beneficial. The mild spring is making things much easier for ranch manager Ken Pigeon and his team during calving season this year.
“It’s been great. It’s a lot easier to check on them and we aren’t finding them shaking and shivering right after being born.” says Pigeon, adding “we also haven’t had to bring any of them indoors to warm them up.”
Right now Pigeon is constantly on the go. Every three to four hours he heads out to check on the more than two hundred cows and the calves that have already been born. The heifers – first time moms – are watched even more closely. A much smaller group of 17, they are in a pasture close to the ranch buildings to make sure they get help quickly if they need it.
All that care and attention is paying off. More than 150 little ones have now been born, with a few extra surprises along the way.
“We have two sets of twins,” says Pigeon, with a smile. “They’re doing great!” Under the ranch manager’s watchful eye, those twins and all of the newborn calves will continue to flourish and grow on land that has supported cattle for generations and will continue to do so for years to come.
The Calgary Stampede and Centre for Newcomers are excited to invite you to put on your cowboy hat and mosey over to the Community Round Up on Saturday, May 28, 9 a.m. to noon outside the Pacific Place Mall (999 36 St NE). Here are five reasons not to miss this year’s Community Round Up:
Your first Stampede pancake in 2016! There’s a skill involved with mixing the perfect pancake batter and flipping those golden flapjacks to perfection. Our Stampede Caravan committee has got that skill down to a science. Don’t forget about the sausages and drizzling maple syrup. We’re drooling just thinking about our first Stampede breakfast of the year.
Extend your yahoos to the newest members of our community. The Community Round Up is partnering with the Centre for Newcomers for this event to give new Calgarians a warm Stampede welcome and an introduction to the 10-day festival. We know our city’s weather can be confusing, but going to the Stampede for the first time doesn’t have to be. We’ll have information for first-time Stampede goers about how to get to Stampede Park, Value Days and all the amazing things to do on Stampede Park for 10 days in July.
All the fun you can have on a Saturday morning with furry friends. Want to experience the farm while in the city limits? Community Round Up will have a petting zoo this year! Get up close to all the barnyard animals you grew up loving. There will be plenty of great photo opportunities capturing your little ones meeting these new furry friends!
Dust off your dancing boots. Square dancing, live music and a stage of community cultural programming – all this before noon on Saturday! Two-step with Harry the Horse or watch your local Punjabi dance class perform. There’s entertainment for everybody at Community Round Up.
Sneak a peek before Sneak-A-Peek. Community Round Up is as close as you can get to experiencing the Stampede before it starts: the Stampede Showband, roping demonstrations and the best excuse to dig your western wear out of the back of your closet. And did we mention a pancake breakfast?
The Calgary Stampede made a splash in Toronto this past week with an exclusive media event, hosted by members of our Stampede family!
Approximately 150 media and travel writers attended a Stampede event titled Get Amped in Toronto’s premier county bar – Boots and Burbon to experience a small taste of the Calgary Stampede, and share the experience with their audiences.
The crowd was energized with Stampede spirit and immersed in western hospitality. Upon arrive, each guest was personally greeted by the beautiful Calgary Stampede Queen, Princesses and Indian Princess, who provided them with the iconic white cowboy hat and a Stampede bandana.
The evening featured amazing food, a little mechanical bull riding and some great storytelling. Well known chuckwagon driver Mark Sutherland was on hand to chat everything GMC Rangeland Derby, Kynan Vine stepped up as the resident bull ride instructor and Treff Deerfoot impressed with his intricate traditional headdress and captivating First Nation story telling.
The evening came to a peak with the much anticipated reveal of the Nashville North concert lineup, followed by a live performance by Nashville North headliner The Washboard Union.
Calgary Stampede Queen, Maggie Shortt, along with Princesses, Bailee Billington and Chelsey Jacobson and Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, Vanessa Stiffarm showed the crowd how a line dance was done as The Washboard Union got the whole party on their feet.
The party was a success with guest leaving with hats on their heads, smiles on their faces and loads of information about The Greatest Outdoor Show Earth! Looking to increase our National visitation is from Toronto, it is important that we showcase all the great things the Stampede has to offer and make a little more noise each time we head out there!
The trip to Toronto wasn’t simply a party, many of Stampede’s team met with media to bring awareness about this year’s Stampede. I few of the highlights include a couple appearances on CTV’s Canada AM. The first had Calgary Stampede Indian Princess talk about the new location for Indian Village and perform her traditional Jingle Dance to the magical drumming by Treff Deerfoot. The second Canada AM spot featured Nashville North Headliner The Washboard Union perform live on the Canada AM Sound Stage.
Other opportunities included a lengthy interview on SiriusXM’s “What She Said” with Vanessa about inspiring and empowering women; an hour long feature on the Calgary Stampede with The Chris Robinson Travel Show and a great segment on ETalk Canada directly from the event with The Calgary Stampede Queen & Princesses, the Indian Princess and The Washboard Union. Our lovely Stampede royalty, along with cowboy Kynan Vine were even spotted in the audience of The Social!
It was a busy yet fruitful few days for the Stampede contingent. In addition to the media coverage mentioned, we are expecting a number of great pieces still to come as well a few media to be at this year’s Calgary Stampede to witness The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth in person.
For more information, and to check out the full lineup, click here.
A new bridge that spans the Elbow River, from main Stampede Park to the Stampede’s new ENMAX Park, was recognized by the Consulting Engineers of Alberta (CEA) for its thoughtful design that accommodates western lifestyle and flood resistance. The bridge was completed in June 2015, just in time for Stampede, to replace the old “blue bridge” that was lost during the flood of 2013.
I spoke with Mark Bowen of Read Jones Chistoffersen Ltd. who accepted the award on behalf of the team and he told me about the planning and construction of the new bridge, and how the design accommodates all of the bridge’s different users.
Protecting the river while protecting Stampede Park from flooding
Based on its location across the Elbow River’s floodway, the new bridge was to be as flood-proof as possible. “Normal practice in bridge design is to lift the bridge deck above the flood level to minimize obstructions in the river. This project presented unique challenges in the mitigation of flood flows and the design of the deck to withstand the applied loads from flood conditions,” Bowen explained. Continue reading
Canadian saddle bronc competitor Clay Elliott wasn’t too sure just how to react after his big Rodeo Houston win on one of the Calgary Stampede’s top horses.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” Elliott told local media. “I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with $50,000.”
The Nanton, Alberta cowboy scored the huge paycheck by winning a ride-off in the finals on board Stampede Warrior. It was one of many notable performances by Calgary Stampede horses at the Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston, Texas. In total, Stampede horses competed 84 times in front of 1.3 million attendees over the course of 21 performances. And they definitely caught the attention of the cowboys and the crowd, as they do year after year.
“They captured an incredible 14 go-round wins and more than $110,000 in prize money in Houston,” says Robert Wise, director of Western Events & Agriculture for the Calgary Stampede. The highest marked ride of the rodeo was given to Austin Foss, who scored 91 points on the Reserve World Champion, Calgary Stampede’s Special Delivery. Continue reading