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.

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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

Building on our past, looking to the future – Agriculture at the Calgary Stampede

For ten days in July, Stampede Park in downtown Calgary is a whirl of colour and sound, with ferris wheels and fireworks, mini donuts and midway games. But at its heart, as they always have been, are animals and agriculture.

The 10-day festival, which hosts more than one million visitors from across Canada and around the world, is a celebration of community spirit and western traditions. It encourages visitors from all over the globe to put on some boots, and make a connection to Western Canada’s rural roots.

“The Calgary Stampede is one of the few places left in the world that still celebrates agriculture. We make it a commitment to introduce the urban population to the rural population,” says Stampede president & chairman of the board, Dave Sibbald. A local rancher whose family has been part of the Stampede for many generations, Sibbald is passionate about keeping the connection to agriculture alive. “It’s never been more crucial than it is today as the urban population becomes further and further removed.”

David Sibbald (L) with his family

David Sibbald (L) with his family

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Sibbald and two of his horses

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Stampede’s solid financial health

In 2016 the Stampede continued to respond to the changing environment while protecting the financial health of the organization. We took on the extra challenge in 2016 to ensure our expenses were aligned with our expected revenue. We worked hard to reduce costs in order to address the anticipated decline in revenue. The end result: a bottom line community investment of more than $2 million in both 2015 and 2016 respectively. This allows us to provide the best support for our community programs, facilities and activities.

Here are some financial and community investment facts:

  • As a not-for-profit organization, our goal is to manage our finances in a way that ensures we can deliver the great experiences our community expects.
  • Yes we had a $12 million reduction to our revenue between 2015 and 2016, but we were very proactive about reducing expenses through both our annual budgets and throughout the past two years since the start of the economic downturn.
  • We expanded our programming and community events with the opening of ENMAX Park in 2016.
  • We continue to actively work with the Calgary Stampede Foundation on the development of Youth Campus.
  • Our ongoing capital budget is higher than it has been over the last couple of years and we are undertaking additional renovations on Stampede Park to make this an even better place for our community.

As a 105-year-old organization steeped in history and tradition we have survived because of our ability to change and adapt. “We continue to be out in our community listening and reacting to what they have to say,” says Warren Connell, Calgary Stampede CEO. “We are looking at how to engage the community and set up programs that appeal to everyone. We have a number of new exciting initiatives planned for the community in 2017 and we look forward to sharing these plans starting this afternoon with an exciting announcement about the Parade.”

The Stampede is a reflection of our community and we work hard to meet and exceed expectations. If you’re interested, we invite you to read our detailed financial statements and learn more about how we give back to the community in our annual Report to the Community.

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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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Kicking 2017 off to a great start!

It’s always fantastic to hear compliments from other rodeos about our Calgary Stampede bucking stock. But the horses’ recent performance in Denver at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo is drawing extremely high praise.

“They steal the show from the rest of the stock contractors that are there,” said Leon Vick, Denver’s Senior Director of Rodeo and Horse Show Operations.

Tootsie Roll and Richmond Champion earn 85 points in Denver

Tootsie Roll and Richmond Champion earn 85 points in Denver

47 Calgary Stampede horses were in Denver for the Colorado VS the World Rodeo on January 7, as well as the Pro Rodeo performances that followed on January 12-22. The results on the scoreboard from those events back up Leon Vick’s compliments. In Saddle Bronc, all three rounds of the PRCA sanctioned competition were won on Stampede horses, with Cody Wright riding Tokyo Bubbles for the top score in the finals.

Bareback competition also went well, with two second place finishes on CS stock in the first two rounds, a win for cowboy Jake Brown on our Reckless Margie in the finals, and a 87.5 point championship clinching ride for Tim O’Connell on Tootsie Roll.

“They’re just bigger, stronger and buck better,” said Vick, when asked what makes Calgary Stampede horses stand out from the crowd. “They’re good in the chute and guys get out on them easy. They really perform well, they’re very showy and they tend to help the guys win a lot of money. “

Tim O'Connell captures the championship thanks to another great ride provided by Tootsie Roll

Tim O’Connell captures the championship thanks to another great performance from Tootsie Roll

With competition in Denver wrapped up, the horses have now made the move to San Antonio, Texas. They will enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation before returning to action at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, February 9-26.

Greatest of the Great in Las Vegas

This year’s National Finals Rodeo (NFR) will go down in the history books as the greatest all time showing for Canada at the world’s richest rodeo and the Calgary Stampede was right there to be a part of it. It is very fitting that we chose to theme our Calgary Stampede booth at the Las Vegas Convention Centre Cowboy Christmas the “Greatest of the Greats” this year because that is truly what was showcased from start to finish at the NFR this December.

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If you had a chance to get down to the promotional booth, you would have noticed the walls decorated with all the great things Stampede has to offer. On the wall were photos of incredible Stampede competitors like Sage Kimzey, Mary Burger and Zeke Thurston, as well as some of our great Stampede bucking horses. As the week unfolded some of our featured athletes showed the world why they are the greatest of the great. Mary Burger came into the week as the all-time money earning Barrel Racer and left Las Vegas with the distinguished title of oldest-ever competitor at the NFR along with a brand new gold buckle and the crown of World Champion to go along with her other major wins in Houston and the Calgary Stampede.

Mary Burger at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Mary Burger at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Sage Kimzey may not have won this year’s Stampede Bull Riding title but he has hoisted that bronze trophy on our stage in the past and also knows how to win World Championships. Sage stayed ahead of his field of tough competitors to claim his third consecutive World Title; the same number of years that he has been a professional bull rider.

Sage Kimzey at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Sage Kimzey at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Last, but certainly not least, on the list of all-time great champions of the Calgary Stampede was Zeke Thurston from Big Valley, Alberta. Not only is Zeke the two-time and reigning Calgary Stampede Champion Saddle Bronc rider, he is now the newly crowned World Champion in the event. Zeke is a proud Canadian and second-generation National Finals qualifier who has been carving out his own page in rodeo history with an impressive resume that includes a Rodeo Houston title, two Calgary Stampede titles, a National Finals Rodeo title and  now a World Championship. We are looking forward to seeing all three of these ‘Greats’ back at Stampede in 2017!

Zeke Thurston at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Zeke Thurston at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

But the story of Canadian success at the NFR doesn’t stop there. Of the eight Canadians competing at this year’s NFR, five are now qualified for an invitation to the 2017 Calgary Stampede. Airdrie’s Jake Vold, three-time and reigning Canadian Champion Bareback Rider, finished second in the NFR and Reserve World Champion. Jake Watson of Hudson Hope, British Columbia, finished the NFR in second place and fifth overall in the World Standings. Clay Elliot, 2016 Canadian Champion Saddle Bronc Rider, calls Nanton, Alberta, home. He finished ninth overall in Las Vegas, with Orin Larsen the Bareback Rider from Inglis, Manitoba, ending his season sitting third in the World Standings.

Along with the success of our future Stampede competitors, some other great Canadian competitors were breaking records in the Team Roping event. Levi Simpson and Jeremy Buhler became the first all-Canadian team of ropers to ever qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. Not only did they qualify but they dominated the field and on day 10 were crowned the 2016 World Champion Team Ropers, which, as you can guess, also went down in the record books. This is an amazing accomplishment for the Alberta cowboys and a proud moment for rodeo in Canada. Kolton Schmidt from Barrhead, Alberta, also competed in this year’s NFR Team Roping but came up short. Kolton and his great horse Badger did however take home the title of Heading Horse of the Year in the PRCA.

That brings us to our final piece of the Canadian contingent at this year’s NFR: the bucking stock. The Stampede was honored this year to have 13 horses and two bulls selected to compete at the National Finals Rodeo. All in all, it was a great showing, with more than $125,000USD won by cowboys on Stampede stock, and over a quarter of a million dollars total on Canadian bucking stock. We are extremely proud to say when the dust settled, it was an NFR rookie with the CS brand that took home the title of Top Bareback Horse of the NFR. X-9 Xplosive Skies is a descendant of the legendary Grated Coconut and is performing true to her lineage. Being recognized as the best bucking horse is no easy feat but this young mare has incredible skills and will be a force in the arena for many years to come.

One last Stampede notable is Pick-Up Man Gary Rempel who made a record-setting ninth appearance at the National Finals this year. Gary is an integral part of the Stampede team, keeping riders and livestock safe in the arena during all of the rodeos that Stampede is involved with. Congratulations to Gary on yet another successful year!

There were too many great success stories at this year’s Nationals Finals Rodeo to name them all but in the end it comes down to a great team that comes together to represent the Calgary Stampede as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

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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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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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Stampede life hack: the Casper nap pod

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.

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Calgary Stampede creates a little noise in Toronto with the Launch of the Nashville North lineup

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.

Calgary Stampede Queen and Princesses being interviewed by ETalk

Calgary Stampede Queen and Princesses being interviewed by ETalk

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.

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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.

The Washboard Union on the Canada AM Sound Stage

The Washboard Union on the Canada AM Sound Stage

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.

Calgary Stampede promotion team having a blast in Toronto

Calgary Stampede promotion team having a blast in Toronto

Riding high in Houston with the Calgary Stampede

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.

Stampede Warrior competing at Rodeo Houston in 2014

Stampede Warrior competing at Rodeo Houston in 2014

“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

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.”

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Calgary Stampede Indian Princess spreads western hospitality in Australia

The Calgary Stampede Indian Princess joined the Calgary Stampede and Travel Alberta for Destination Canada’s 2016 Canada Corroboree in Australian cities Adelaide, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney. The Corroboree is a major tourism roadshow that informs travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers and media about all the incredible things Canada has to offer. Here are some of Vanessa’s favourite memories from Down Under.

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Showband Tour 2016: Midwest USA

What does the Calgary Stampede Showband do the week before the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth? They go on tour across the Midwestern United States of course! This summer, the Showband will travel to perform in Minnesota and Wisconsin from June 24 to July 5, 2016, coming back to Calgary just in time for the 10-day Calgary Stampede.

In 2015, the Showband won "Best in Show" at DCI's SoundSport competition in Indianapolis.

In 2015, the Showband won “Best in Show” at DCI’s SoundSport competition in Indianapolis.

Taking their unique brand of western hospitality and performance on the road, the Showband’s tour will include a stop at the Vikingland Band Festival in Alexandria, Minnesota. The Showband will perform in the Vikingland Band Festival parade (which features only marching bands!) and will perform its 2016 field production in exhibition at the what is considered the largest and most prestigious summer marching band competition in the Midwest. Continue reading