More than the Money – the Unique Partnership at the Back of the Track

John Walters isn’t easily shaken. A veteran chuckwagon driver, his previous career in rodeo included riding broncs and wrestling steers. But cowboy tough doesn’t always keep the nerves from getting to you. Especially when up on stage at the Calgary Stampede Canvas Auction.

“There are definitely some butterflies in your stomach. It’s nerve-wracking, for sure,” Walters said with a grin, clearly back in his comfort zone after the bidding had ended and he was teamed up with the  Brakeman Foundation for the third year running.

Photo courtesy: Larry Kwan

Photo courtesy: Larry Kwan

The Canvas Auction is a high stakes event. Pegged as a yearly barometer of Calgary’s economy, the money raised also plays a big role in the success of a driver’s entire season. Continue reading

New adventures, new home for Aggie Days!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to kiss a llama? Or how a tiny bee can turn nectar into honey? At Aggie Days the answers, adventures and wonder await! And this year you will be able to find them in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

“The new location means a new way of exploring Aggie Days. As you walk through the Agrium Centre and wander through AltaLink Hall you will find new things to see and do,” says Aggie Days committee member Josh Traptow. “Our Aggie Days team has also been working hard to ensure there are brand new experiences for our visitors, many who join us year after year, but also familiar ones as well.”

Children can get up close and personal with a variety of animals at Aggie Days

Children can get up close and personal with a variety of animals at Aggie Days

Aggie Days is a place of wonder where children can see and learn about where their food comes from, how animals can be hard working helpers and of course, have a lot of fun. From farmers and ranchers, bee keepers to weavers, many different experts will be sharing their love for what they do and just how exactly it all happens. Continue reading

Highlights from the 2016 Calgary Stampede Annual General Meeting

Positivity and progress were reoccurring themes at the Calgary Stampede’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Shareholders gathered at Stampede Park to vote for the board of directors, receive financial and shareholder updates, and hear from president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray, and chief executive officer, Warren Connell.

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

Gray spoke of the milestones celebrated in 2015, including the Stampede’s new partnership with the Calgary Opera to create a new opera space on Stampede Park, and of the achievements of the Stampede’s many youth education and development programs. “When I started as the Stampede’s president & chairman of the board, I knew that our organization, on a year-round basis, was very committed to youth education.  What I did not appreciate was the breadth and extent of our involvement in those programs,” he said. Continue reading

History moment: Calgary Stampede remembers some of our greatest female contributors for International Women’s Day

To celebrate the centennial of Alberta women achieving the right to vote and International Women’s Day on March 8, let’s take a look at some of the pioneering women of western performances and rodeo who competed at the first Calgary Stampede. Continue reading

What gifts will you give this holiday season?

You’re invited to The Spirit of Christmas, presented by The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts, on Sunday, December 6, at the Jack Singer Concert Hall. This uplifting performance celebrates the greatest gifts we can give each other this holiday season, inspiring audiences to think about the gifts that come from within.

Dancers and singers act out numerous gifts throughout the performance, including the gifts of compassion, joy, laughter, peace and more. “[This year’s performers] were asked to bring their own life experiences into the pieces, which creates those deeper threads,” says Cyndi Scott, director of dance development.

Our inner gifts

Our inner gifts

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2015 Aboriginal Awareness Family Day Festival and Pow Wow Competition

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The 2015 National Aboriginal Week festivities included an exciting full day of cultural exchange on Stampede Park. On Saturday, June 20, Indian Village hosted a family day Pow Wow. For First Nations peoples, the Pow Wow is a chance to connect with family and old friends, in addition to making new friends.

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The day began with a free pancake breakfast, followed by the grand entry and opening remarks, a pow wow, Métis jigging and hoop dancing. Former Grand National Chief Phil Fontaine, and the comedian Don Burnstick also spoke to the crowds. 

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Pictured: a buffalo float contribution to the 2015 Parade. The first Stampede Parade took place on September 2, 1912. It was lead by 1,800 Treaty 7 First Nations people in full regalia. Today, it’s one of the largest parades in North America, second only to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

 

 

 

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Pictured: Indian Princesses-in-training practicing their fancy dance moves.

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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.

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Under the Grand Chapiteau Continue reading

You’re invited to a Family Barn Dance and Western Market this weekend!

Do you have your weekend plans set yet? Because there are two awesome Stampede-inspired events happening this weekend on Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9 at the Red Barn in Shawnessey, Calgary.

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Friday, May 8 kicks off the two-day event with a family barn dance! Matt Maters will be playing songs and leading the dance party, getting you into the western spirit. There will be light snacks and drinks, and the Holy Smokes food truck, providing refreshments for sale throughout the evening. This is a great event for the whole family to attend; tickets are just $20 and and kids get in free! Buy your tickets in advance, here!

Then, wake up and continue the fun the next day. Saturday, May 9 is a good ol’ fashioned western market! Begin the day by enjoying a traditional pancake breakfast then walk around and check out the many vendors selling various western themed goods. Activities throughout the day and a lemonade stand are sure to keep the kids entertained. And keep your eyes peeled, because you may see the Stampede Queen and Princesses and Harry the Horse there as well. Continue reading

Highlights from 2015 Aggie Days

Thousands of city-slickers got a chance to learn more about agriculture, farming and rural life at Calgary Stampede’s annual Aggie Days. This beloved event embodies the Stampede’s initiatives to connect the urban and rural– Aggie Days is a unique opportunity for urban communities to learn about about how and where their food is made, as well as what producers actually do on the farm.

Guests were invited to submit questions and write about their thoughts on agriculture in Alberta

Guests were invited to submit questions and write about their thoughts on agriculture in Alberta

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2015 Dairy Classic Championship Show

Last weekend, crowds gathered to the Calgary Stampede Agriculture Barns for the 2015 Dairy Classic Champion Show.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

On Saturday, March 21, I attended the Dairy Classic to learn about what it takes to raise award-winning milk cows. Those in attendance saw dairy farmers reaping the rewards of decades of labour and generations worth of effort. The cows featured at the Dairy Classic have been selectively bred for milk production and type– the udders shown in the show are noticeably larger and the bodies are more streamlined than beef cattle you’re likely to see on your drives outside Calgary.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

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2015 Canvas Auction

There was a lot of excitement and great energy at the 2015 Canvas Auction last night. More than 160 organizations attended the auction in hopes of being one of the lucky few who will become part of Calgary Stampede history.

Jamie Laboucane, professional Chuckwagon driver.

Pictured: Jamie Laboucane, professional Chuckwagon driver.

The annual Canvas Auction is known as an exclusive Albertan experience—an opportunity for advertisers to become a part of one of Canada’s most iconic events, the GMC Rangeland Derby.

Since 1923, Chuckwagon racing has been a part of the Calgary Stampede’s DNA. The auction, an annual tradition since 1978, helps to sustain this unique western Canadian heritage sport. Today, the GMC Rangeland Derby is enjoyed by a live audience of more than 190,000 and broadcasted nationally.

The 2015 Canvas Auction stage is adorned with beautiful Chuckwagon bronzes of  Calgary Stampede past.

The 2015 Canvas Auction stage is adorned with beautiful Chuckwagon bronzes of Calgary Stampede past.

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Stampede Queen’s top three memories of 2015 so far

Well hello again! I hope the winter hasn’t been too rough on you and that you are looking forward to the spring and upcoming rodeo season as much as I am!

These past few months have been packed full of fun adventures and it is hard to believe that the Princesses and I are almost at the halfway point in our reign. There are already countless stories that I could tell you about what has happened, but I will narrow it down to the top three.

The first very memorable incident took place a few months ago while I was on a family trip in Mexico. We all went out for dinner one evening to a small restaurant that had a picturesque patio overlooking the beach. I am sure you can imagine my surprise when I noticed three Calgary Stampede posters hanging on the wall, so out of curiosity I had to ask the waiter (who was also the restaurant owner) if he was a fan of the Calgary Stampede. He replied that yes, he was a big fan and that one day he and his wife would love to make the trip to Calgary to go to the Stampede. Well, he was just as surprised to find out that I was the 2015 Stampede Queen as I was to see the CS posters hanging in his restaurant. So naturally, we needed to have our picture taken together. I think this moment stuck with me the most because I have always known of the international fame of the Calgary Stampede, but had never directly experienced it until one evening on a family trip.

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Mick Plemel with restaurant owner and waiter in Mexico

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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

 
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*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.

Saddle up, sopranos

The Calgary Stampede is pleased and proud to announce a trailblazing partnership with the Calgary Opera.

The Calgary Opera’s new home will be on Stampede Park—Calgary Stampede’s Youth Campus, a year-round gathering place for the community is slated to open in 2017 or 2018. Under the agreement the Stampede will provide the land for the Calgary Opera to build a 50,000 square foot Opera Centre, which will include public space, a 300-seat rehearsal and performance space, classrooms, practice halls, administrative offices and much more. Youth Campus will also house the Young Canadian School of Performing Arts, the Stampede School and the Calgary Stampede Showband.

Pictured: Stampede Princess Haley Peckham, Jose David Londono (YC), Stampede Princess Kimberley Stewart, Kastin Stewart (YC), Stampede Queen Mick Plemel, Thomas Glen (Calgary Opera), Stampede Indian Princess Maya Many Grey Horses, Ali Byford (YC) and Lindsay Kelle (YC)

Pictured: (L to R) Stampede Princess Haley Peckham, Jose David Londono (YC), Stampede Princess Kimberley Stewart, Kastin Stewart (YC), Stampede Queen Mick Plemel, Thomas Glen (Calgary Opera), Stampede Indian Princess Maya Many Grey Horses, Ali Byford (YC) and Lindsay Kelle (YC)

At the celebration in the Rotary House on Tuesday, March 10, this deal was sealed with an exchange of a white cowboy hat for a Brunhilda helmet with horns. The two Bobs were eager to tell the audience about how the Youth Campus will allow for aspiring youths and industry professionals, several opportunities to pool resources, both the facilities and years of expertise, in order to create Calgary’s newest art and cultural hub.

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Stampede horses dominate CFR

Three dozen Calgary Stampede bucking horses are happily frolicking in the snow-covered pastures near Hanna, celebrating a triumphant series of performances in the horse roughstock events at the Canadian Finals Rodeo.

In the six CFR performances, ending Sunday, Stampede horses captured six buckles for round-winning scores. That’s half the available buckles to be won by horses. When the dust settled at Rexall Place and the rough stock awards were handed out, three of the top four horses of the CFR went to Stampede Stock.

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Unfortunate Carma won the 2014 Bareback Horse of the CFR after two astounding performances. This six-year-old mare won the second round with Matt Lait (pictured above, photo by Mike Copeman), teaming up to score an 87-point ride. She returned Saturday night with another strong performance that earned her great points with rider Colin Adams.

Unfortunate Carma is the grand-daughter of the legendary bareback horse, Grated Coconut. Born 2008, she is the daughter of mare Carma by sire Royal Wake, who is the son of six-time World Champion Grated Coconut by mare French Wake. All those great genetic qualities combined in Unfortunate Carma, a feisty filly that ranks as an “eliminator” bronc.

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Her travelling mate and uncle, Special Delivery (pictured above at the Stampede) - currently ranked as the number three bareback horse in the world – was named the runner-up in the Bareback Horse category. His first go-round was explosive, scoring him great points but up-ending top rider RC Landingham in a buck-off. The second time this spunky stallion took the arena, he carried Matt Lait to the top of the round and the championship title, winning with a score of 87.75. Special Delivery is a powerful and talented animal athlete, sired by Grated Coconut by many-time CFR and NFR Qualifier Zippy Delivery. Watch for him to solidify his world-class reputation at the NFR in December.

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Tiger Warrior  (pictured above waiting for his performance at CFR) took runner-up in the category of Saddle Bronc Horse of the CFR, scoring 85.5 points to win the opening round with Cort Scheer. His second time out, in the fourth round, Tiger Warrior carried Rylan Geiger to a top-placed finish with a score of 86.5. Two rounds, two top-placed finishes for Tiger Warrior. He was edged out for the Horse of the CFR title by Lunatic Party from Outlaw Buckers, a horse that was the Saddle Bronc Horse of Canada for this year.

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Considering there are 11 stock contractors with horses in the running, the Stampede’s capture of six of the 12 go-round buckles and three of the four Horse of the Year honours represents an impressive ratio that speaks volumes of the quality of the Stampede’s Born to Buck breeding program.

Go-Round Buckles:

Performance 1: Saddle Bronc – Cort Scheer and Tiger Warrior – 85.5 points

Performance 2: Bareback – Matt Lait and Unfortunate Carma – 87 points

Performance 3: Saddle Bronc – Cort Scheer and Lynx Mountain – 88.75 points

Performance 4: Saddle Bronc – Cort Scheer and Warped Logic – 85.25 points

Performance 5: Saddle Bronc – Rylan Geiger and Tiger Warrior – 86.50 points

Performance 6: Bareback – Matt Lait and Special Delivery – 87.75 points

CS+CS = Champion performances

Add to that a unique phenomenon –  the combination of the initials worn by our CS horses and a certain “C.S.” cowboy added up to the CFR’s Top Gun award.

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Cort Scheer (pictured above with Stampede’s Keith Marrington), the Calgary Stampede 2013 Saddle Bronc Champion, was on fire all through the CFR, taking home three go-round buckles all on the backs of CS-marked Stampede bucking horses. Cort kicked off the CFR with an opening-round win teamed up with Tiger Warrior, followed up a go-round ride with on Lynx Mountain on night 3 and another winning ride with Warped Logic in the fourth go-round, plus a fourth-placed finish on Until Kamloops in the final round.

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In all, Cort bucked out almost $63,000 worth of performances, teamed up with Stampede stock in four of his six go-rounds, earning himself the Top Gun award for the most money earned by any cowboy at the CFR. This huge run on great rides lifted Scheer from 10th place standing coming into CFR from season’s earnings, to a second-place finish, a mere $238 behind Tyler Corrington’s championship-winning tally.