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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Happy Trails!

Hey y’all, Princess Chelsey here again, back at it for the New Year! As per usual, we’ve been keeping quite busy, but realizing that this is to be our slow time before all of the extra excitement of spring time hits, we’ve been enjoying our down time while we can! I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about one event that we get to attend each and every month, and will continue to all through the rest of the year…Happy Trails! If you think that was me bursting into song…you’re mistaken. Happy Trails is a monthly event put on by the Calgary Stampede Promotions Committee where we tag along to various retirement homes for an evening of singing, line-dancing, and spending time with the residents. Chelsey 1

We love the Calgary song!

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An Interview with Princess Chelsey

Howdy everyone!

Queen Maggie here. It’s so good to be back! Hope everyone stayed well over the holidays. I’m here today to fill you in on the fun loving, bow hunting, show jumping Princess, Chelsey Jacobson.

Chelsey was born in Thunder Bay Ontario and moved to Alberta at the ripe old age of three. Chelsey grew up as your typical horse-crazy kid, toting around on whatever horse or pony was on the acreage at the time. She started riding English when she was about 12 and soon discovered showjumping. Chelsey went off to Olds College before beginning to work in the sport horse world on a breeding and training farm, then for a few well-respected trainers in the jumping world, before deciding to try something new and winding up here!


Chelsey as a young goat wrangler.

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Meet our Princes!


Howdy everyone & Happy New Year!

As Queen Maggie, Princess Chelsey and I prepare for The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth and continue our journey as the Royal Trio, we find ourselves spending a lot of time with three dashing princes – our horses, of course! Riding is a big part of becoming a Stampede Queen or Princess; there are three different equestrian portions throughout our competition and improving our horsemanship is an integral part of our year as Stampede Royalty. Banner1

Queen Maggie, Princess Chelsey and I riding Snoopy, Hawk and Kansas in our final riding competition

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My Inspiration

Throughout the past month, I’ve travelled and met some wonderful people. I was able to attend Grey Cup in Winnipeg and it’s an experience I will never forget. I rode in my first parade on a horse, brought a little western hospitality to St. Gerard School, and served some delicious pancakes with the Calgary Grey Cup Committee. I also bonded with my Royalty sisters, who are by the way the best AC/DC singers you’ll ever meet. There wasn’t a time where we weren’t all laughing or making everyone around us smile. I had a moment where I was feeling down and they unexpectly came up to me and just gave me a big hug, then made me laugh. They’ve become my family away from home, while I continue this journey as the 2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. For that, I’m so thankful – Maggie, Chelsey, and Bailie this is going to be a year we will never forget and I’m happy I get to share it with you lovely ladies.

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Royalty in Las Vegas

Hey y’all! Princess Chelsey here, returned in one piece from Viva Las Vegas! What a busy couple of weeks we’ve had, coming back from Winnipeg to head South only four days later!

It was both Queen Maggie’s and my very first time in Vegas, so luckily we had Princess Bailee and Indian Princess Vanessa to show us the ropes. Don’t worry, we were behaved and brought a heap of western hospitality to share.

We went down to experience the National Finals Rodeo, so not unlike our own Stampede week, the city had turned western! A few more bright lights than we’re used to, but just as many cowboy hats I think! We spent a lot of our time at Cowboy Christmas at the Calgary Stampede booth, promoting the Stampede and entering people to win a trip for two up our way in July. If you don’t know what Cowboy Christmas is, imagine the largest building you’ve ever been in, double that, and then fill it with all kinds of booths selling rodeo gear, western apparel, horse trailers, and more pairs of cowboy boots than I knew even existed! So in other words, heaven on earth. Needless to say, I came home a few dollars poorer.


I even found a hoverboard at Cowboy Christmas! (I’ll stick to walking though) Continue reading

Taking Our Stampede Spirit to the 103rd Grey Cup

Howdy! Princess Bailee here, back to tell you all about the fantastic time we had in Winnipeg celebrating the Grey Cup this weekend. The Royalty Trio has been going to the Grey Cup for a very long time, and we want to give a huge shout out to the Calgary Grey Cup Committee for inviting us to join them again this year, and for being such wonderful hosts. We started our week off by visiting St. Gerard School to bring a western style party for the students and staff! We had great music, line dancing, tons of “ya-hoos”, and a room full of fabulously decorated cowboy hats. The students’ spirit was contagious and we had a blast singing, dancing, and conga-lining with everyone!

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Two stepping with a young cowboy at St. Gerard School Continue reading

Stampede Royalty goes to CFR

Hello everyone! Your 2016 Calgary Stampede Queen here, Maggie Shortt. As I’m sure you guys know, we’ve hit the ground running since we were crowned this past September. We’ve had a number of events since that point, but we had our very first overnight trip this weekend up to CFR in Edmonton. For those of you that don’t know what CFR is, it’s the Canadian Finals Rodeo! Headed to CFR bright and early

 Headed to CFR bright and early!

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Introducing Princess Bailee

Hey y’all! This is Chelsey Jacobson, one of the Stampede Princesses for 2016 and I wanted you guys to get to know my fellow Princess, Bailee Billington a little bit better! But first, I have to say how thrilled I am to be a part of the Royal Trio for this year, I don’t think I’ve come down from Cloud nine yet.

Now let’s meet Bailee!

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Introducing the 2016 Calgary Stampede Royalty

Anticipation filled the air on Stampede Park throughout the months of September and October as the competitions for Calgary Stampede Queen & Princesses and Calgary Stampede Indian Princess were underway. To narrow down to the final three Stampede Queen and Princesses, 21 hopeful contestants took part in a four-week long contest with numerous competitions such as public speaking, equestrian, personal interviews and more. The Indian Princess pageant took place over two weeks, with five applicants and several events, including speech training, horsemanship and attending community events.

Excitement reached its highest peak with the crowning of Stampede Queen Maggie Shortt, Stampede Princess Chelsey Jacobson, Stampede Princess Baillee Billington and Stampede Indian Princess Vanessa Stiffarm. These four new Calgary Stampede ambassadors have already begun the journey of a lifetime; the Royalty have already attended events representing the Stampede and will make more than 400 appearances throughout the year. So just who are these four young women and what are they looking forward to this year?

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Introducing Queen Maggie!

Howdy everyone! This is one of your 2016 Calgary Stampede Princesses, Bailee Billington. I am so excited to be a part of the new Royal Trio and to have the opportunity to share our journey with you. But enough about me, today I am here to tell you about a fellow Stampede sister, your 2016 Queen Maggie Shortt. Maggie is a fun, kind, sincere cowgirl from Strathmore, Alberta. She’s been riding for most of her 21 years, on her horses Shake ‘n’ Bake, Alex and now Hawk (her Stampede Prince for the year). She got her start in the horse world volunteering with her dad at Horse Haven farms, helping with chores, grooming and cleaning tack. Maggie has done a little bit of everything in the English and Western riding worlds including jumping, dressage, gymkhana and being a member of the Calgary Stampede Showriders for four years. Maggie spends most of her spare time in the saddle, but also loves to cuddle up with her cat Bubba and read.


A young Queen Maggie volunteering with miniature horses at Horse Haven Farms.

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2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess

Oki, my name is i’kiwayohtowa and means “Heard All Over” which comes from the sound of thunder or you can call me Vanessa Stiffarm and I am the 2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. I come from the Kainai Nation and was raised by my parents, Evelyn Killsback and John Stiffarm, and my grandparents, Roger and Cathy Hunt.



After looking back this past month since I’ve been crowned, it brings an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness. It’s an incredible honor to carry this title and represent not just Kainai but all of Treaty 7, the Indian Village, and the Calgary Stampede. I’ve met a few of the past princess’s and look up to them. The stories they have shared with me about their experience and how holding this title opened doors for all of them. I want to inspire others the way they have inspired me to try my best and educate others about my culture.

Even though a month has gone by, I can still remember that feeling of standing on that stage waiting for my name to be called. When the judges finally called my name to announce I was this year’s Indian Princess, I cried. And I cried more when my grandparents came on stage to sing me an honor song. I cannot thank my family enough for their support and guidance that has led me to this moment. I am truly blessed and humbled to have this opportunity and to share it with everyone I will meet. I want to thank everyone for the kind words, the positive feedback, and for continuing to support me. This is only the beginning and I can’t wait to share my journey as we get closer to the 2016 Calgary Stampede.

Fall reflections

Because the run up to and the 10 days (actually now more like two weeks) of Stampede are so busy it is no real surprise that August is a relatively quiet month around Stampede Park as many of our employees and volunteers take holiday time. One of the biggest stories of the summer was the Calgary Flames’ announcement of their proposed Calgary Next project in West Village. I think it is clear that the public consultation process for this project will be measured in years and not weeks or months and even if the project goes ahead the Flames are likely to be playing in the Saddledome for the next five years and possibly longer so we look forward to working with the Flames for at least that period.

Once September started, it was clear that everyone involved with the Stampede was back and working hard.  Lots has happened already this fall, including the following:


1. I attended the crowning ceremony for our new Calgary Stampede Queen and Princesses on September 28 in the Agrium Western Event Centre.  It was a great event and congratulations to our new Royal Trio, Calgary Stampede Queen Maggie Shortt and Calgary Stampede Princesses Chelsey Jacobson and Bailee Billington. I want to commend the outgoing Royal Trio, Mick, Kimberly and Haley, for being such great ambassadors for the Stampede and a fun bunch to work with.

206 Calgary Stampede Queen, Maggie Shorrt (middle), and Princesses, Chelsey Jacobson (left) and Bailee Billington (right) immediately following the crowning ceremony.

2016 Calgary Stampede Queen, Maggie Shorrt (middle), and Princesses, Chelsey Jacobson (left) and Bailee Billington (right) immediately following the crowning ceremony in the Agrium Western Event Centre.


2. I also had the pleasure of attending the Indian Princess crowning ceremony on Sunday, October 4.  It was an excellent and well-attended event and it was great to see five talented ladies vying for the position.  Congratulations to Vanessa Stiffarm who I know will be a great addition to our Royalty and a terrific representative of Indian Village.

2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, Vanessa Stiffarm receiving her crown.

2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, Vanessa Stiffarm receiving her crown.


3. On Monday, October 5 I was proud to unveil the original artwork for the 2016 Stampede Poster at an event at the Calgary Public Library.  The painting is titled “Born to Buck” and it represents and honours a stock breeding program carried on under the same name at the Stampede Ranch in Hanna, Alberta, as well as our successful rodeo stock contracting business, which services rodeos all across North America.  The artist, Michelle Grant, did a fantastic job of capturing the concept and she created a beautiful piece of art by any standard and the painting translates into an excellent poster.

Bill Gray, president and chairman on the board, artist Michelle Grant and the Calgary Stampede Queen & Princesses with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster artwork. Visit a Calgary Public Library between October 6 and 11 to take a selfie with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster and you could be entered to win a pair of tickets to the Rodeo or Evening Show and #Stampede2016. Visit for more details.

Artist Michelle Grant, the Calgary Stampede Queen & Princesses and me with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster artwork. Visit a Calgary Public Library between October 6 and 11, 2015 to take a selfie with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster and you could be entered to win a pair of tickets to the Rodeo or Evening Show and #Stampede2016. Visit for more details.


4. On a serious note, there is no question that many businesses and individuals in Calgary are facing tough economic times, as evidenced by the now almost daily announcements of job cuts.  Certainly the Stampede is not immune to the economic climate and you may be aware that we are revising our volunteer committee budgeting process accordingly. For the first time that I am aware of, a member of our Audit and Finance Committee Budget Group will be meeting directly with the Committee Chairs and staff liaisons to discuss and review the Committee budgets prior to their finalization.  The goal is to hopefully find some opportunities for savings but most importantly we wanted to involve the Committee Chairs in the decision-making process as I believe the Committees themselves know how their programs work and they are the best equipped to determine where cuts might be made and where they should not be made. I hope all the Committee Chairs will take the opportunity to provide their valuable input into this process.


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