Calgary’s community enriched by Stampede Lotteries’ partners

This is a special time of year for the Calgary Stampede Lotteries. It’s a time of giving and sharing, as the proceeds of the 2015 program are shared with many deserving charities and organizations in our community.  It’s also a time of celebration, as we reflect on the many amazing things those same charities and organizations are able to do throughout the year.

Calgary Stampede Lotteries is a partnership between the Calgary Stampede and four service clubs: Kinsmen Club of Calgary, Rotary Club of Calgary South, Calgary Stampede Foundation and the Calgary Marching Show Band Association. Every year, proceeds from the lottery support the Calgary Stampede, a not-for profit organization, and our youth and agricultural programs. Shared proceedsare directly reinvested in the community through these service club partners. This year, $1.172 million was distributed to benefit community programs.


CSlotteries Kin Rotary Showband

Calgary Marching Showband Association receiving their cheque

Calgary Marching Showband Association receiving their cheque

Enviros is one of the many not-for-profit social service agencies the Kinsmen Club supports with funds from Stampede Lotteries.  “These programs are offered to youth who may be recovering from adictions or need intensive therapy in order to return back to their home,” explains Jennifer Harbour, manager of fund development at Envrios, adding “[The funds received] are used to help Enviros with building maintenance and renovation projects for the residential programs we operate.” Continue reading

A Drum Major: More Than Just a Conductor

It’s not a secret that the marching arts provide exceptional learning experiences for youth. As one of North America’s fastest growing athletic activities, it challenges students physically, mentally, and creatively. There are a lot of reasons for students to join a marching band or drum corps, but the leadership skills that drum majors gain are truly second-to-none. As it turns out, there is a lot more to this role than just conducting the band and wearing a black cowboy hat!

1. They’re expert communicators

Elena Samoilova, who was the Showband’s head drum major in 2011 and 2012, is now the Showband’s Leadership Coach. She describes drum majors as the link between students and instructors. Drum majors learn exceptional communication skills by interacting with people at all levels, receiving directions from staff, constantly giving instructions to large groups, and occasionally speaking on behalf of the band for media.

According to Aaron Park, Director of Bands for the Calgary Stampede, it’s the things that aren’t said out loud that are especially important. “Drum majors develop non-verbal communication skills that help them to be approachable, build relationships with others, and intuitively understand what the group needs to do next to be successful. I trust Grace (the Showband’s current head drum major) to work with the members and get things done.”


Elena Samilova entertaining crowds with her team at the Saddledome Steps in 2012.

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Introducing Jeff de Boer

I know that all you culture cravers and urban art aficionados are eagerly awaiting the opening of ENMAX Park in July 2016—since we announced that local artist, Jeff de Boer was selected to create a new sculpture to grace the MacDonald Bridge entrance earlier this year, the community has been abuzz with excitement!

Photo credit: Jeff de Boer website

Photo credit: Jeff de Boer website

I got the opportunity to tour de Boer’s studio and learn more about his work, as well as what inspires him to create.

de Boer is a multimedia artist, best-known for his whimsical metal sculptures—you may have seen his work at the Calgary International Airport (Tin Toy) or Cyclone, at the Glenbow Museum. He’s also received a Board of Governors Award of Excellence for his work instructing at the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD). An ACAD graduate, who majored in jewelry design, de Boer now works with various mediums to create pieces that surprise, delight and make memories. 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

Continue reading

8 Periscope Accounts to Follow for #DCI2015

Most fans of the marching arts know that the 2015 drum corps season comes to a close next weekend at the Drum Corps International (DCI) World Championships, which are going to be bigger than ever. There are a record number of 19 teams competing in SoundSport on Aug. 8, including several Canadian teams (our own Calgary Stampede Showband, the Diplomats (Ontario), and the McMaster Marching Band), two teams from China, and one from Taiwan! If you can’t make it to Indianapolis to see the drum and bugle corps, SoundSport, and DrumLine Battle teams in action, we’ve put together a list of Periscope accounts to follow for behind-the-scenes and in-front-of-the-action content from groups and individuals that will be there.

@ShowbandCS broadcasts rehearsals and performances live on Periscope.

The Calgary Stampede Showband, competing in SoundSport and DrumLine Battle competitions, broadcasts performances and rehearsals on Periscope.

Know of other groups and individuals that are broadcasting fantastic content about the marching arts and music education? Let us know in the comments!

1. Drum Corps International (@DCI)

This one goes without saying. The official Periscope of Marching Music’s Major League has been posting scores and other fantastic content all season long from their events across the United States. Continue reading

Showband Goes Big, Loud, and Live in Indianapolis

As part of its 2015 “Fairs and Festivals” tour, the Calgary Stampede Showband is travelling to Indianapolis next week. Hitting the road with western hospitality and catchy music straight from the Saddledome Steps, the Showband will compete in SoundSport and DrumLine Battle competitions, entertain crowds at the Indiana State Fair, and learn by watching world class drum corps in action. Announced this week, the Showband will also be performing its SoundSport set at the Drum Corps International (DCI) quarterfinals on Thursday, August 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium while the audience waits for the judges’ scores. This performance will be broadcast LIVE to theatres across the USA as part of DCI’s 12th annual “Big, Loud & Live” event which will be viewed by over 50,000 DCI fans in 600 theatres.

The Showband entertains crowds twice daily with a 45-minute set at the Saddledome Steps during the Calgary Stampede. Photo credit: Pat Johnston

The Showband entertains crowds twice daily with a 45-minute set at the Saddledome Steps during the Calgary Stampede. Photo credit: Pat Johnston

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Calgary teens share why they love marching band

Members of the Calgary Stetson Show Band, a local marching performance ensemble for high school students,  shared the reasons why they love marching band in the video below as part of a local #JoinTheBand campaign. These, and other ways that marching band transforms lives can be seen on the Calgary Stampede Showband Instagram page and in this recent blog post.

We asked: “What is your favourite part about marching band?”

They answered:

“It’s one big family”

Continue reading

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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Stampede School Meets Cirque School

When the grade four students in Mrs. Olynik’s class from Acadia School arrived at Campus Calgary Stampede School to investigate the Dreams of the Stampede, they didn’t know they would spend an afternoon under the Big Top! Thanks to a teacher with a dream to explore Cirque du Soleil, the curtains were raised by the Cirque du Soleil publicist Amelie.


Under the Grand Chapiteau Continue reading

Marching Band Audition Tips from the Calgary Stampede Showband

So you want to join a marching band? Look no further! Showband members Colleen Kehler and Curtis Polowick and brass instructor Chris Bourne have put together five tips for musicians and prospective colour guard members looking to ace their upcoming Showband auditions!

1. Come prepared!

This includes being comfortable with the audition materials that have been made available online. Chris says that staff notice and appreciate when people have practiced a lot. Plus, if you are more prepared, your stress level will be lower because you will feel more confident that you are ready. olympic parade 3



2. Plan ahead

Wear appropriate shoes and clothes, eat a good meal before you go, and make sure you  get there in plenty of time to check-in and warm-up. Also, make sure you get a good night’s sleep and drink water the day of and the day before the audition. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

The Showband Announces its 2015 Production: The Edge

With a successful winter performance season winding down, the Calgary Stampede Showband is excited to announce its 2015 production titled, “The Edge”. For those who aren’t familiar with the marching arts, these productions are typically 10-12 minutes and tell a story through music, movement, and theatre – very different than what you typically see from marching bands in parades. These productions are part of how the Showband provides outstanding performance and educational opportunities for its members, which include brass and woodwinds players, percussionists, a colour guard, and dancers. Last year, the Showband won its fifth world championship in Brazil with its 2014 field show, “Aurora”.

The Showband performing "Aurora" during Showbands Live! at Hellard Field.

The Showband performing “Aurora” during Showbands Live! at Hellard Field.

Inspired by popular children’s literature, “The Edge” will depict the journey from reality to imagination. As a young girl travels down a city sidewalk, her mind wanders as she plays at the edge. Like any young child, she plays with objects in reality and builds a whole new world in her imagination; she’ll leave dreary city streets and be transported to a world filled with adventure, joy, and hope. The edge of the sidewalk represents that journey of the mind, that moment or place where we drift away into that world of imagination.

The Showband’s visual coordinator Jacqueline Meyler, who has previously worked with Spirit of Atlanta Drum & Bugle Corps from Atlanta, Georgia, and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, says it will be a very visually-driven production. As explained by Jacqueline, “the marching members are learning to remove themselves from their comfort zone, and will be learning creative choreography that will help depict the storyline. The idea is that the ensemble removes itself from ‘the status quo’ completely and transforms into a world of imagination”.

Music for the field show, arranged by Michael Klesch, will include “Frozen Cathedral” and “Xerxes” by John Mackey and “Plastic Satin” by Ryan George. Assistant Director Ryan Hancock reveals that “Xerxes” will represent one of the darkest moments of the show and that the band finally embraces hope and imagination during “Frozen Cathedral”.

The Showband won a world championship title with its 2012 production, "The Legend Continues".

The Showband won its 3rd world championship title with its 2012 production, “The Legend Continues”.

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People and accomplishments celebrated at the 2015 Calgary Stampede Annual General Meeting

The Calgary Stampede’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) is a time to conduct the business of the organization, elect directors and celebrate the achievements of the past year.

Last night, shareholders* gathered and voted in 11 directors (two new directors and nine incumbents).

2015 AGM

We said goodbye to retiring CEO Vern Kimball, outgoing president & chairman of the board, Bob Thompson, director, Jackie Engstrom, and appointed director, Allen Hagerman. We also welcomed incoming president, Bill Gray, vice-chair, Dave Sibbald, second vice-chair, Dana Peers, incoming CEO, Warren Connell, and two deserving recipients of the Stampede Life Member award, Mike Ross and Peter Valentine.

Pictured: Vice-chair, Dave Sibbald, president & chair of the board, Bill Gray, second vice-chair, Dana Peers

Pictured: Vice-chair, Dave Sibbald, president & chair of the board, Bill Gray, second vice-chair, Dana Peers

As we reflected on the events and programming of the last year—from completely recovering after the 2013 flood, to the launch of the Agrium Western Event Centre, to our plans to relocate Indian Village and develop ENMAX Park, SAM Centre and Youth Campus, it’s clear that the 2015 AGM was about celebrating how the Stampede is successfully becoming a year-round gathering place for the community.

The evening was an emotional one as the Stampede family bid farewell to retiring CEO, Kimball, who has poured his heart and soul into the company over the last 29 years. Thompson kicked off the night by assuring the audience that the meeting did not signify “a point of departure from our energy and enthusiasm that fueled us for a hundred years, but was instead a broadening of our purpose through the development of a year-round gathering place for all to enjoy.”

There was a lot to celebrate last night—our recent achievements due to the “the energized passion from thousands and thousands of volunteers stretching from 1912 to today”said Thompson. Thompson also shared that Stampede volunteers are the fabric of our distinct culture and that our passion and dedication for the Greatest Show on Earth, maintains the Stampede as a constant, even in the face of devastating floods and economic uncertainty.

In his remarks, Kimball shared his perspective on the last 10 years of Stampede history. He revisited the organization’s achievements under the six presidents he worked with during his time as CEO. Kimball then offered congratulations and endorsement to new leaders, Gray and Connell, noting them as the best candidates to lead our organization into the next chapter. He thanked the community, volunteers and employees for working continuously to exceed the both the world’s expectations and his own.

As the evening came to a close, one final surprise was dropped on the audience—literally. To the beat of 12 drummers and hundreds of falling balloons, the final capital campaign total was revealed: $131,236,580!

Pictured: Bob Thompson, Vern Kimball, Foundation board chair, Ann McCaig, and Foundation board vice-chair Steve Allan

Pictured: Bob Thompson, Vern Kimball, Foundation board chair, Ann McCaig, and Foundation board, We’re Greatest Together campaign co-chair Steve Snyder.

The campaign funding enables us to continue our work in becoming a year-round gathering place for the community through the upcoming development of Youth Campus, ENMAX Park and the completed Agriculture Discovery Zone with the year-old Agrium Western Event Centre. As Thompson said, “the moment the organization opens its big barn door, steps out and sees a new invigorated Stampede Park, a gathering place for youth, world-class facilities, unlike anything we have had in our past.”

Everyone left the AGM feeling nostalgic for how far we have come as an organization, proud of our most recent accomplishments together and hopeful for the future.

Kimball said it best, “the Stampede’s work is not done; it is just beginning.”

Pictured: Vern Kimball, retiring CEO

Pictured: Vern Kimball, retiring CEO


*Becoming a Calgary Stampede shareholder:

After a minimum of four years as an active volunteer, volunteers are eligible to become a shareholder. The board approves all shareholder nominations; once approved the volunteer purchases a $5 share to become a shareholder of the Calgary Stampede. Shares do not grant dividends or appreciate, nor can they be sold. Shareholders who don’t attend the shareholder meeting by proxy or in person for three years in a row will lose their shareholder status. The Calgary Stampede has 1,963 shareholders.

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Stampede Showriders

Calgary Stampede Showriders auditions are coming up on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8 at the Barron Barn in Turner Valley. Showriders alumni Haley Peckham and Mazlie Gehring decided to share some inside information about the prestigious riding ensemble for prospective members and admiring fans. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the Showriders:

1. The Showriders were formed in 1985 as a colour guard for the Calgary Stampede Showband.

Originally, the Showriders existed to accompany the Showband in parades and rodeos across southern Alberta. Celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, the equestrian group has since developed its own identity as a unique Calgary Stampede Foundation educational program that develops members’ riding skills and provides opportunities to travel, perform, and compete.


2. Boys are allowed

Historically, the Showriders have been comprised of female riders, but male riders are allowed in the group!

3. The Showriders and the Stampede Showband rehearse together before parades so that the horses get used to being around the band.

Most horses don’t spend a lot of time around trumpets and bass drums, so the Showriders and Showband get together to practice before the summer performance season begins. This helps the horses acclimate to the loud sounds.

4. Showrider horses are as much part of the team as the riders.

Much of the Showrider rehearsals involve the horses getting to know each other and learning to work together. Showrider horses learn to be calm and resilient, in addition to the unique performance skills they acquire through clinics and rehearsals. Pairings are also made based on how the horses get along with each other. The riders learn how to take better care of their horses through information sessions on topics such as “how to feed your horse,” “how to keep your horse energized” and “how to condition horses to keep them in shape between practices.”

5. The Showriders use A LOT of hairspray and glitter.

Gehring told us that she goes through six cans of hairspray and an absurd number of bobby pins during Stampede time. What else could keep their hair looking fabulous after a performance in the Infield? They also go through a lot of glitter. Apparently, it is easy to spot the Showriders’ area in the barns because it is covered in glitter. If you look closely, you’ll see that they also stencil a “C lazy S” in glitter on each horse every day.

6. The Showriders aren’t the ranch girls that carry the flags during the Calgary Stampede Rodeo.

The Calgary Stampede Ranch Girls are an entirely separate program from the Showriders. The Showriders sometimes also carry flags, but you’ll notice that they dress differently and give a performance similar to the RCMP Musical Ride.


7. They are different than American-style drill teams.

American drill teams are known for their speed, the Showriders are known for their precision, something they call “sitting pretty.” The Showriders also have a much shorter season and are a smaller team compared to most American-based groups, which are often able to ride year round.

8. The Showriders ride behind the Showband for two very important reasons.

The Showriders ride behind the Showband so that the band doesn’t have to step in horse poop (ick!) and so that the horses can see where all that noise is coming from.

9. The Showriders rode as the colour guard for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine (Will and Kate), when they visited the Stampede in 2011.

Peckham recalls Kate saying that the Showriders and their horses were “beautiful.”

10. Being a Showrider is a great way to train to become a Calgary Stampede Queen or Princess.

There is no guarantee that Showriders will go on to become rodeo royalty, but many alumna have become Calgary Stampede Queens and Princesses. Peckham, a 2015 Stampede Princess, and Gehring, this year’s Airdrie Pro-Rodeo Princess, both say that their experiences in Showriders helped them to develop confidence and improve their riding ability – important factors considered by judges in rodeo royalty contests.

The Showriders are looking for 14 – 21 year-olds who love to ride and own their own horse. To register for the Showriders clinic and auditions on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, email


Stampede Showrider auditions; here’s why you should apply

Do you know someone who has what it takes to be a Calgary Stampede Showrider? The Stampede Showriders are a dynamic group of young equestrians with a distinctive western flair. They perform across southern Alberta and have travelled to destinations in the United States and Europe. The Showriders are holding 2015 auditions on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8 at the Barron Barn in Turner Valley. They are looking for prospective members between the ages of 14 and 21 who own their own horse. To be part of the Showriders, it is beneficial to have some previous riding experience.

Thinking about auditioning but not sure if you’re the right fit? Twenty-two year old Calgary Stampede Princess and Showriders alumna Haley Peckham told us what it is like to be part of the Stampede’s unique youth riding ensemble. Hayley was a member of the Showriders for six years before being crowned Calgary Stampede Princess in September 2014. She credits the program for enhancing her self-confidence and making her a better rider.

Showriders 1

Peckham as a Stampede Showrider

Most will recognize the Showriders from the Calgary Stampede Parade and their musical ride performances in the Infield before the GMC Rangeland Derby every night during Stampede, but many aren’t familiar with the full range of Showriders’ performances or the work that goes into preparing for those appearances. The Showriders also perform in the new Agrium Western Event Centre and make other appearances in the community, such as the Alberta Children’s Hospital Parade. They have also had the opportunity to travel to, perform, perform and compete during Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming and the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

 Showriders 2

Stampede Showriders at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Parade

The girls and their horses rehearse approximately twice each month during the spring leading up to their summer performance season. Haley says rehearsals are an incredible learning experience for both riders and their horses. Rehearsals include time learning about different horses’ personalities and honing performance skills. The Showriders also hold clinics to further improve the girls’ riding and the horses’ resiliency. For example, they participate in an extreme trail clinic every year. Additionally, while riding is typically an individual activity, the Showriders are part of a team, something Haley calls one of her favourite parts of being involved with the group.

And the riders? They come from many backgrounds. Haley’s family has a ranch west of Bowden and grew up around horses. As a little girl, she saw the Showriders on television and knew that she wanted to ride in the Calgary Stampede Parade one day. Some girls come from ranches near Calgary, while others grew up in the city and board their horses out of town.

As Peckham testifies, being a part of the Showriders is a lot of fun and a great opportunity for personal growth.

Prospective members should email for more information or to register for auditions. We hope to see you at the auditions.