An Oasis in the Heart of Stampede Park

This summer, while exploring the many events and sights on Stampede Park you may find that you want a change of pace. Maybe you want to get out of the weather, or the crowds, or just to relax and unwind. You are in luck! We have an Oasis in the middle of the Park just for that!


Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn


Located inside halls D & E of the BMO Centre, you will find a calm, creative retreat known as the Western Oasis. One of the best parts about the Western Oasis, besides the air conditioning, is the feeling you get the moment you walk through the doors. The Western Showcase committee creates such a welcoming, intriguing, and calming atmosphere which makes the buzz of the Midway and Stampede Market feel like they’re 1,000 Kilometers away. Imagine a gently lit room that is illuminated by 2000 soft lights, the feeling of a relaxing breeze, the sounds of trickling water and hushed voices, and the beautiful scent of 1,600 flowers, shrubs, and plants.


Photo Credit: Mike Ridewood


One of the most magnificent sights is the breathtaking water wall that is highlighted by the glow of twinkling lights and colours. As you’re walking through, make sure you take a peek in the galleries and studios of the artists, as the artwork is simply amazing. You’re also welcome to take a seat at one of the barrel tables and enjoy a glass of wine in the wine garden. For your entertainment, the favourite Bronze Living Statues will also be in the Oasis throughout the day. Do they even blink?


Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn


This year, there will also be a very unique collection of corkscrews that will be on display. Paul Squires is bringing his personal collection of antique corkscrews that date all the way back to the 18th century. If the corkscrews are anything like the wine, they can only get better with age. The Remington Carriage Museum will also be providing the Stage Coach where you, friends, and family can have a great western photo opportunity.






Below is a list of areas to see within the Western Oasis:

Artists’ Studios offers a unique opportunity to meet and purchase art directly from the artists. The artists are on hand daily so you can learn about how that ‘must have’ piece of art was created.

Western Art Gallery features new and emerging Western artists whose original work reflects the life and times of Western Canadians of the past and present.

Western Art Auction – North America’s finest western art auction is held on Thursday, July 11. Auction pieces may be previewed in the Western Oasis until Wednesday, July 10. For ticket information visit

Western Photo Gallery showcases spectacular photos capturing the rich history of the West and the Calgary Stampede.

Artist Ranch Project Inspired by a visit to Scott Ranch, a working historical ranch in Alberta, contemporary artists will present their creations.


Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn


You can also experience a taste of western lifestyle and culture in action by visiting some of these areas in the Western Oasis:

Window on the West Stage – Guests will enjoy the eclectic mix of live music and cowboy poetry.

Creative Arts and Crafts - Daily demos take place in the Creative Arts & Crafts area where you can see traditional to modern crafting techniques. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try something new!

Calgary Co-op Kitchen Theatre features the best of western cooking with daily, non-stop cooking demos and the very popular Dueling Chefs competitions.

Wine Garden presented by Co-op, offers a selection of over 20 wine varieties of Canadian and international wines. Indulge in a glass of wine, along with a cheese plate or evening flambé. Wine specialists are featured daily between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.


Wine Garden


Did you know in the 2012 Western Oasis…

  • 2,000 lights were used
  • 100 trees were brought in and cared for
  • 1,600 shrubs, flowers, and plants were brought in and cared for
  • Over 200 tons of rock were lifted and placed


Written by:

Jillian Cook

Lindsey Kendrick


Showcasing an ‘heirloom’: the No. 1 Centennial Saddle at the Wall Art Sale

What is ‘art’? According to aesthetic principles (and the Merriam-Webster dictionary), it is that which is beautiful, appealing, or extraordinary.  We all recognize that art is subjective.  What one finds alluring or captivating, another may view as sub-standard.  Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

On Thursday night (June 7th) I had the distinct opportunity to rub elbows with artists and art aficionados at the Calgary Stampede Western Art Committee’s “Wall Art Sale” held at the Ranchmen’s Club.  It was a charity event – a first for the Committee – to raise money for the Kids Cancer Care Foundation and the Calgary Stampede Foundation youth programs. Up for sale / auction was a selection of amazing pieces by artists that will have other works on display at this year’s Stampede. Most of the pieces were smaller ones. Characterized as “carry-away”, these unique pieces of art were ones you could easily pick up after a quick zip of your credit card and some nice cellophane packaging by cheerful Western Art Committee volunteers.

While perhaps not considered to be ‘art’ in the traditional sense by some, there is no denying the craftsmanship of leather tooling and saddlery.  The Centennial saddle, although not available for purchase at the “Wall Art Sale”, was on display and is most certainly an extraordinary example of leather artisanship. It’s a beaut’ – as I ‘behold’ it anyway! The Calgary Stampede’s Western Performance Horse (WPH) Committee commissioned Vic Bennett (out of Sherwood Park, Alberta) to craft 100 All-Round saddles for this year’s Centennial year.  These saddles (numbered 1 to 100) are custom-made, beautifully-designed and available for sale to anyone who was interested in purchasing what was sure to be one of the most unique souvenirs in the history of the Calgary Stampede.  The one on display at the “Wall Art Sale” is the ‘grand-daddy’ of all saddles – it is the No. 1 Centennial Saddle (and is inscribed as such, as are all Centennial saddles).

The affable and very statuesque, Angela Pipe (Vice Chair of the Western Performance Horse Committee), was on hand at the “Wall Art Sale” to answer all manners of questions on how the idea for the Centennial saddles transpired. 

Me: “One hundred saddles! That’s a lot of saddles to craft. That’s a lot of saddles to sell!”

Angela: “It most certainly is! I’m sure that Vic Bennett and his team of saddle-makers have had a few sleepless nights over the past few months.  As for the WPH Committee, we had a few nail-biting months where only a small number of the saddles actually sold. But we breathed a collective sigh of relief by the end of March 2012.  People started catching Stampede fever and by March 29th 2012, ALL available saddles were sold. Once people started realizing the historical value of the saddle; that the essence of what became the Calgary Stampede all started with someone on a saddle; they started to sell and they sold fast!”

As of today, all have been sold except for No. 1. I was pleased to have the opportunity to see the remaining Centennial Saddle at the “Wall Art Sale”.  If you missed viewing this ‘grand-daddy’ of Centennial Saddles, you still have a chance to see it. It will be auctioned off at the Western Art Showcase on July 12, 2012.  This saddle will be an heirloom, a invaluable part of Stampede history! It will undoubtedly be a great conversation piece – something that a winning bidder will treasure for years to come. Stop by the Western Art Showcase and check it out. Make a bid! What a great idea to commemorate the 100th year of the Calgary Stampede!



Charlie Russell Exhibit Coming to the Glenbow Museum

If you’re interested in history, art, Stampede or all of these things, then you’ll want to check out the new installation coming soon to the Glenbow.  “Charlie Russell and the First Calgary Stampede” runs from June 2 – July 29, 2012.

It’s only fitting that there’s an exhibition of his paintings during the centennial celebration, as this “Famous Cowboy Artist’s” Special Exhibition of 20 paintings was a huge draw at the first ever Calgary Stampede.

The Glenbow has managed to almost fully recreate his 1912 exhibition and will have 18 out of the 20 paintings on display.

Russell, known for his stunning western landscapes and portrayals of First Nations, cowboys and outlaws, has provided us with an important visual history of what life was like in the west.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1864, he moved to Montana at the age of 16 where he spent most of his life until his passing in 1926.  It is said that he lived with the Blood Indians of the Blackfeet Nation for a period of time in the late 1880’s, which explains why he was able to portray them so authentically.

The Glenbow is also a hosting a number of other great events in the coming months that will celebrate our western heritage and values including “Weekend at the Museum: Go West!” on June 23 & 24, The “Walrus Glenbow Debate -  Calgary’s Cowboy Culture: Living Legacy or Just History?” on June 7, as well as “Cash and Conviction: The Big Four and the First Calgary Stampede” on Thursday, June 28, where their Senior Curator of Cultural history, Lorain Lounsberry, goes behind the scenes in Glenbow’s extensive cultural history collections to tell the tale of the four successful ranchers and business men that each guaranteed $25,000 so that Guy Weadick could produce the first Calgary Stampede in 1912.

More information can be found on their website at

Flores LaDue – the ‘First Lady’ of the Stampede

As we all know, this year marks the 100th year of the Calgary Stampede - The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. In fact, today (March 29th) is the start of our official countdown “100 Days to the Calgary Stampede.”  Gracing this year’s Calgary Stampede poster is a portrait of Guy Weadick by artist Harley Brown. Weadick is known as the ‘Father of the Frontier Show’ and a unyielding force behind the establishment of the Calgary Stampede. One century ago, Weadick (with the help of others) got everything started here in Calgary. A successful man, Weadick has made quite a mark in the cowboy world through this and other efforts. And, let’s face it, his legend lives on (now in poster size! ;o) )

But behind every successful man, there is a woman… isn’t that what they say? Flores LaDue, the stage name of one Grace Bensell, is that woman. She was Guy Weadick’s wife. Both accomplished trick ropers, Guy and Flores worked the vaudeville circuit performing stunts in western acts all across North America and Europe. They eventually settled together in Western Canada and have even found their final resting places in the Foothills/ High River area. Quite a unique couple, I’d say, with a unique history.

Through a series of serendipitous events (see my blog entry February 12 2012 on this), I stumbled upon an amazing painting of Flores LaDue by Ruth Vickers .  Ruth Vickers is a prolific artist but not well-known for her western art. I had the chance to chat with Ruth by phone a few weeks ago; a truly lovely lady. She said that she is greatly inspired (as many of us are) by history and by passionate people that go ‘against the grain’; those that  offer inspiration through their activities and contributions to culture and society. Flores LaDue and her life and ‘trickery’ was, according to Ruth, “remarkable”. And Ruth was inspired to paint this most remarkable woman.

- ”Flores LaDue’ by Ruth Vickers (Oil on masonite. 40″ x 40″)

I had the opportunity to view Ruth’s masterful work of art at her mother’s house in High River in February.  Believe me, the photo here does not do the painting justice. It is truly an amazing piece; as remarkable as Flores LaDue herself! And – yes folks – it is for sale!

I am in the process of ‘working my networks’ to see if we can get this magnificent piece of art on display prior to and during the Stampede in July this year. For more information on Ruth Vickers, the artist and her work, please drop me an email (! I will happily connect you to Ruth and her family! In the meantime, check out Ruth’s amazing work at:

- – - -

Cami Ryan is a researcher with the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan and a member of the Calgary Stampede’s Ag Media Committee. Her family farmed and she grew up as a “townie” in rural Saskatchewan. Farming and agriculture has always been an important part of her life – both professionally and personally. Cami lives with her family and a collection of critters on an acreage just south of Calgary. Check out her blog:

Indoor Activities at the Calgary Stampede

You look skyward, to see dark clouds moving in. This is it – your one and only day at the Calgary Stampede, and here comes the rain to ruin your fun, right?
Whether you’re trying to get out of the rain, trying to get out of the sun, or just trying (like me) to get somewhere that’s air conditioned, the Stampede may be the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, but there are still a TONNE of great activities to take part in that are INdoors.
People watching at The Range
The Range, located underneath the Big Four building, is more than just a great place to go and grab some grub, it’s also the most “social” place on the grounds – a place where friends plan to meet up, and where you can actually hear what the person next to you is saying. Whether you’re grabbing a cup of Cowboy Coffee or watching the kids play at Buckaroos, The Range is a great place to relax and enjoy some relative peace and quiet with your fellow Stampeders.
This year’s show, “Bite It”, is proving to be a favourite with dog lovers of all ages. From powerful, fast and athletic all the way to dogs you’d be more likely to see peeking out from a celebutante’s purse, these 4-legged performers are a mainstay at the Calgary Stampede, and with good reason. The show takes place several times daily in the new Superdogs Theatre, on the upper floor of the Big Four Building. Tickets are free, and available in front of Rotary House.

BMO Centre
Food… merchandise not sold in stores… crafts and artwork… entertainment… cooking demonstrations… wine garden… the ways in which you can spend your time (or, if you choose, your money) in the BMO Centre are seemingly endless. From the Calgary Co-op Kitchen Theatre and free entertainment at the Window of the West Stage to airbrush tattoos and the Old Tyme Photo Parlour, the hard part isn’t finding something to do, it’s figuring out what to do FIRST.
Nashville North
THE spot to be on the Stampede Grounds for country music lovers. Live music from this massive tent booms all over the Stampede Grounds. A spot for adults only, the line-ups can get quite long the closer you get to showtime. But if you’re in the mood for some boot scootin’, this is where you want to be.
Agricultural Barn
Do you like animals? Of COURSE you do! Head on over to the Agricultural barn for demonstrations, talk with some of the folks who grow the food that crosses your table every day, and don’t forget to stop by Mel’s Place – serving food straight from the farm to you!
The Enmax Ice Show
Located in the Stampede Corral, this has been described as “a rock and roll concert with acrobats and World Champion figure skaters added to the bill”, and the description certainly fits. Some of rock and roll’s greatest anthems are played live, while circus acrobats fly around and Olympians Jamie Sale, David Pelletier and Calgary’s own Vaughn Chippeur dazzle with their on-ice mastery and grace. In Vegas, you’d pay $90 for this show. At the Calgary Stampede, you’ll pay nothing to get in to the show – but the experience is priceless.

Yes, indeed… whether you’re looking for some hot tunes or some cool moves, trying to get some shade or just trying to stay dry, there’s plenty to do at Stampede that includes a roof over your head. Just don’t stay indoors TOO long – you’ll miss the fireworks!

Western Art Gallery’s artist lineup now online!

The Western Art Gallery artist lineup is now online and we are gearing up for an amazing 2011 show!

This is the  first year patrons of the Western Art Gallery will be able to see some of the Gallery’s new and emerging artists demonstrate their craft at the Artist Window during the 10 days of Stampede.

Western Art Gallery features some of the best new and emerging western artists that the Stampede has to offer. If you think that western art is all horses and canola fields,  think again. We’re pushing the boundaries of classic western art; from  landscapes to contemporary art there are a variety of styles to suit anybody’s tastes.

Some of the highlights include:

  • Oscar Solis Cortez, who’s come all the way from Mexico to sell his works at the Calgary Stampede.
  • Oxana Barinova from Russia. She graduated from Moscow Pedagogical University with majors in Painting and Drawing.
  • Jan Chalupnicek was born in Praque. He left his homeland in 1968 and arrived in Canada in 1969. Once here Jan continued his fine art study at the University of Windsor. He now works mostly in oils and acrylic as a full time Calgary artist. Jan loves to paint in deep contrast of light and dark. His passion is to paint landscapes and the Rocky Mountains.
  • Born in France, Violette Clemente lived most of her youth in tropical countries around the world before settling in Calgary in 1977. She paints in water colours and acrylics.
  • Fanny Fynebuik was born in Holland and is a graduate of the Dutch Collage of Arts and Craft in Groningen Holland. She moved to Calgary, the city in which she still resides. You’ll find Fanny’s work in many private collections in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.
  • Jane Romanishko was born in 1964 in Russia and is a graduate of the College of Art Education in Siberia.
  • Iryna Zayarny is deeply rooted in the artistic tradition. Finishing the Masters program at the Kharkiv Institute of the Arts, Ukraine, she has profound knowledge of art theory and excellent education in the arts.

Come and check us out at the BMO centre, halls D & E this Stampede.

Western Photo Gallery & Competition

Final judging for both Western Photo Gallery and Western Photo Competition has been completed and this year’s show includes many amazing images.

Our gallery is located in Halls D&E of the BMO Centre and will showcase a total of 81 framed/mounted photographs and canvases depicting western heritage & lifestyles. All Gallery images will be available for purchase throughout the 10 days of Stampede, but we encourage everyone to come early as some are sure to sell out.

We will also have a number of contributing photographers on hand as part of ‘Photographer’s Corner’ where you can get unique insights & stories about the photographs on display, or participate in one-on-one discussions about the variety of photographic & framing techniques being used today.

For a sneak peak of the 2011 Western Photo Gallery or to get more information, please log on to our website.  

We are also happy to once again have the Western Photo Competition in this years show. Competition images are not for sale but will be available for viewing via monitor display and is a must see for anyone who appreciates the technical aspects of photography. We encourage everyone to stop by, have a seat, and enjoy the show. There will be 235 images shown in 4 categories, and will take about 20 minutes to complete one loop. Entries were judged based on technical merit and adherence to category criteria and we would like to congratulate the winners:

  •  Best Overall – Ms. Marti Rhea & Guest
  • First Nations – Mr. Stewart McLeish
  • Rodeo – Miss Billy-Jean Duff
  • Western Landscapes – Mr. Hiroaki Kobayashi
  • Western Lifestyles – Mrs. Chantale Ward

 We are also excited about news that Canadian Geographic Travel Magazine will be featuring us in an upcoming issue – stay tuned for further information.

Take a kick at decorating a Western Boot Jack

This year, the People’s Choice Competition of the Creative Arts and Crafts Competition is a whimsical look at the Western Boot Jack.  Use your imagination and creativity to decorate a western boot jack. Submit your entry online at by June 24, 2011. During Stampede Week, all entries will be on display in the Creative Arts and Crafts exhibition in Halls D/E of the BMO Centre.  Visitors to the Western Oasis will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite boot jack, and the winner will be announced on the final day of the Stampede. This contest is open to individuals 12 years or older.

Updates on Artist Ranch 2011

Apparently the arrival of spring-like temperatures in Calgary brings out the artists!

Joanne MacDonald and Philip Bandura are currently showing work at “The Black & White Show” at DaDe Art and Design Lab located at 1327 – 9th ave S.E.  Philip is also participating  in a show at Ruberto-Ostberg Gallery called, “Soft Power”, a new glass art exhibition from glass-based studio collective, BeeKingdom. See the exhibit at 2108-18 St. N.W

Another 2011 Artist from the Artist Ranch Project, Eveline Kolijn, is travelling further afield to Limerick, Ireland. Eveline has a solo show there in May while Adele Woolsey is currently gathering inspiration in various locations around Africa while lending a helping hand  installing water filtration systems throughout the continent.

Be sure to come down to see what these fantastic artists have produced from their experience. The art will be on display at in the Western Oasis Hall in the BMO Centre at Calgary Stampede 2011!

2010 Artist Ranch Project To Carry On…


Herb Sellin, one of the 2010 Artist Ranch Project artists has been awarded a Canada Council Grant for the Arts to continue with his series of works from the project last year.  Herb will be creating an additional 15 paintings, within the next year, based on his experience with the Artist Ranch Project of the Western Showcase from 2010.  Congratulations Herb!

Artist Ranch Project Announces 2011 Artists

Artist Ranch Project, part of Western Showcase, is excited to announce four artists, Philip BanduraJoanne MacDonaldEveline Kolijn and Adele Woolsey as the featured artists for Stampede 2011. For those of you not “in the know”, four amazing contemporary artists are invited each year to visit and experience a working ranch in Alberta – this year, the artists will be at the Homeplace Ranch near Priddis Alberta. They spend the year creating artworks inspired by the experience, and exhibit them at the following Calgary Stampede Western Showcase exhibition. Be sure to come down to the Western Oasis to experience what these artists have created.

 On another happy note…Tim Belliveau, one of Artist Ranch Project’s featured artists in 2010 and one of the trio of glass-blowers known as Bee Kingdom, was named to Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 along with his colleagues Ryan Marsh and Philip Bandura, the latter of which will be showing at Stampede 2011. Congrats to the talented trio!

Indoor Adventures at Stampede

With all the rain we’ve been having, you may be tempted to stay home instead of venturing down to the grounds.  I can’t say that I blame you; the prospect of pouring rain and cold winds is not appealing in July.  However, I decided to venture down to Stampede Park last night with a friend as I figured that we could enjoy lots of indoor attractions with fewer people there.

As soon as we arrived, we immediately ducked into the BMO Centre which is right by the main entrance so we weren’t wet at all.  I’m a bit of a photography nut so we took in the photography exhibit in the Western Oasis, then moseyed over to the ATCO Kitchen Theatre where Josef Wiever and Linda Sautner showed everyone just how versatile bison can be.  I won’t lie, I was definitely interested in the samples at the end!

From there, we did some wine tasting and pairing in the Western Oasis…before heading over to the Acrobatic Ice Show in the Corral.  (We were able to stay inside the whole time so the rain was a non-factor).  If you haven’t seen the Acrobatic Ice Show yet (it’s new this year) I HIGHLY recommend it.  It’s set to rock music and features a number of Canadian Olympians skating, doing amazing stunts on ice.

Finally, we finished up our evening with a wee bit of shopping at the Stampede Market.  There are tons of great vendors selling a huge variety of both western and non-western items.  The food vendors also have super tasty treats so we even got our mini donuts without having to go outside!

So, even though the rain might keep you from going outside, don’t let it stop you from coming down to the grounds and trying out some new indoor attractions.

Spotlight on: Metal Art Showcase

Did you know that Blacksmiths make more than just horseshoes?

Certainly, the people competing at this year’s World Championship Blacksmiths’ Competition at the Stampede will be making plenty of horseshoes as part of that competition, but those who have dedicated their lives to taking up the craft of metalwork have the abilities to create so much more.

The Metal Art Showcase gives these competitors an outlet to exercise their artistic freedom and to use their skills to create wonderful pieces of art out of metal. If artwork involving metal interests you, or if you’re looking for something unique to see at this Stampede, the Metal Art Showcase is happening at the Big Top and Palomino Room in the BMO Centre on Saturday, July 10.

Continue reading

Spotlight on Artist Window

By Heather Ilsley

I headed down to the Artist Window as I’ve never really understood how artists are able to just start sketching something and have it turn into art.  Do they see the whole image in their mind before they start or do they just kind of go with the flow and see what transpires?  What happens when they make a mistake?  Is there an eraser for paint?

Artist Window is a cool feature inside the Western Showcase (BMO Center Hall D & E) where you can meet an artist, watch them work, and talk with them about technique and other art-y things.

I met up with artist Dianne Middleton and watched her work on a western landscape using pastels.  Below she shows me that she’s going to have to fix the cow…apparently he doesn’t look cow-like.  Turns out there IS an ‘eraser’ that can use to help smooth out areas that you don’t like. Continue reading

Spotlight on Western Oasis

By: Heather Ilsley

Stampede can seem a little overwhelming and crowded to veterens and newbies alike. One of my favorite places to go to escape the craziness and, let’s be honest, the rain – is the Western Oasis.

Located in Halls D & E of the BMO Centre, the Western Oasis is a calming place to take a break during a long day on park.  With low lighting, fountains, lots of plants, and many places to rest your feet, the Oasis really lets you recharge and relax. Continue reading