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.

NFR 2016

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

A Marching Band Tour by the Numbers

This month, the Calgary Stampede Showband took the Calgary Stampede’s western spirit and hospitality to fairs and festivals across North America including Red Deer Westerner Days, K Days in Edmonton, the Saskatoon Ex, and the Indiana State Fair. Along the way, the Showband entertained huge crowds, competed in international DrumLine Battle and SoundSport competitions, and learned by watching other elite performance ensembles in action at the Drum Corps International (DCI) Finals.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s involved with taking a marching band on tour:

119 talented and hardworking performers

19 tour staff and instructors

7 tour volunteers and chaperones

800 hours of rehearsal throughout the year

4 fairs and exhibitions

54 appearances and performances

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Make your musical mark: 10 Reasons to Join a Marching Band

Tired of sitting on the sidelines? Looking for info on how to get involved with Calgary’s marching bands? You’re in luck, because several local ensembles are currently recruiting new members for the 2015/16 season:

For those who need some convincing, we’ve compiled our top 10 reasons to join a marching band! If you’re planning to audition for Showband, make sure you check out our awesome audition tips!

1. Amazing Performance Opportunities

Calgary’s marching bands get incredible opportunities to perform on the Saddledome Steps during Stampede week, at marching band competitions, at sporting events, in parades, and special concerts.

The Showband has also performed for Mayor Nenshi, Prime Minister Stephan Harper, and the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge Will and Kate. We’ve given a command performance at Buckingham Palace, been featured on the show, “Live with Kelly Ripa”, and performed on stage with Shania Twain and Michael Bernard Fitzgerald. These are all especially unique performance opportunities that would never be possible in a normal concert band setting.

In 2014, the Calgary Stampede Showband and Calgary Stetson Show Band traveled to Brazil to compete in the WASMB Championships.

In 2014, the Calgary Stampede Showband and Calgary Stetson Show Band traveled to Brazil to compete in the WASMB Championships.

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From travels to Kentucky, to Grand Entries at Aggie Days, 2015 is great so far

Well, the last month has been an absolute whirlwind for us. The day after returning from Berlin we were busy with an event at Stampede Park and have been going steady since!

One thing that unites our trio, and is a major component of the royalty program, is a love of anything horse related, and we’ve been attending a number of horse events within the last few weeks. We were fortunate enough to spend a week in Lexington, Kentucky at the end of March, and all I can say was WOW! We had the opportunity to tour a few major Thoroughbred farms and racetracks down there and between the acres and acres of rolling green pastures and the barns that looked like castles, they were nothing short of incredible. The horse racing industry in Kentucky has such a rich history and the landscape absolutely matched. Coming from my family’s ranch west of Bowden, which is basically bush country, I was blown away to say the least!

The major purpose of our trip was for Road to the Horse, a world championship colt-starting competition that our coach Jim Anderson was competing and defending his championship title at. The competitors selected two colts each that had been barely touched, and within three days were riding them through an obstacle course. The calibre of horsemanship at the competition was amazing and there was something to be learned from all of the contestants.

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Jim Anderson horsemanship demo in Kentucky.

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Cheering on Jim with our Canadian Flag

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The Showband is taking the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” on the Road

This summer, the world famous Calgary Stampede Showband is taking a break from competition and hitting the road to entertain crowds across North America. After performing all-day, every day during Stampede 2015, the Showband’s summer 2015 “Fairs and Festivals Tour” will take the group (and the Calgary Stampede’s unique brand of western hospitality) to Westerner Days in Red Deer, K-Days in Edmonton, the Saskatoon EX, the Indiana State Fair, and Drum Corps International (DCI) Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Showband performs for huge crowds on the Saddledome Steps twice each day during the Calgary Stampede.

The Showband performs for huge crowds on the Saddledome Steps twice each day during the Calgary Stampede.

Coming off of three consecutive world championship victories, the Showband is shifting gears and focusing on a broader audience. Performances in Red Deer, Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Indiana will showcase the type of shows that are familiar to Calgarians, but not necessarily common among other marching arts groups in North America. If you’ve ever seen the Showband perform on the Saddledome steps, you know what we’re talking about. Audiences can expect to hear the Showband play its signature piece, “You Can Call Me Al” (by Paul Simon), hits like “Runaway Baby” (Bruno Mars), “Uptown Funk” (Mark Ronson, feat. Bruno Mars), “Shake It Off” (Taylor Swift), and a Daft Punk mash-up, as well as music from its summer production, “The Edge”.

The Showband is known for it's highly engaging "stand-still" performances. The Saddledome Steps are definitely a crowd favorite!

The Showband is known for its highly engaging “stand-still” performances. The Saddledome Steps are definitely a crowd favorite!

 

 

 

The Showband will compete in DCI Drumline Battle and SoundSport events before DCI finals on Saturday, August 8 in downtown Indianapolis. The Drumline Battle will place the Showband’s drumline head to head against other drumlines from around the world. Soundsport is in its second season at DCI finals and is a competition for marching ensembles from all over the world.

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