Introducing Calgary Stampede’s newest board members

On March 21, 2017, the Calgary Stampede’s shareholders elected three new directors to the Stampede board: Elizabeth Burke-Gaffney, Dave Lantz and Stuart O’Connor. The board further approved the appointments of three additional directors: Lesley Conway, Greg Kwong and Cindy Provost. The biographies for all of these new directors can be found below.

The Stampede’s board is currently comprised of 20 shareholder-elected directors, four government-appointed directors and five board-approved externally-appointed directors. The externally-appointed directors from the larger Calgary community provide the board with supplementary expertise from specific business sectors that are key to supporting the strength of the Stampede’s leadership in light of the organization’s Master Plan and Strategic Plan initiatives and developments.

David Sibbald, president & chairman of the board, commented on the newly appointed board members, saying ”Lesley, Greg and Cindy will bring tremendous expertise to the board as we move forward with plans to expand the BMO Convention Centre and our youth education platform. They are leaders in Calgary and lend to the Stampede a broader perspective and representation from our community.”

Warren Connell, chief executive officer, added “These individuals understand where the Stampede is going and are passionate about helping us get there.”

The Stampede congratulates the six new directors on their elections and appointments and looks forward to the support of their leadership as the organization drives toward furthering its vision to create a world-class year-round gathering place for the community.

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The Royalty Trio gets saddled up at Eamor’s Saddlery

Hello again Stampede Fans! Queen Meagan here!

Every Stampede Queen and Princess loves her trusty steed! And, along with our beautiful horses we need tack and all the extras, as every horse lover out there knows!

Our Stampede Royalty program is fortunate to have a very generous craftsman and sponsor to give each of us a saddle! JD Moor personally designs a saddle for each Queen and Princess, putting into 300-400 hours of work on each one! His shop is called Eamor’s Saddlery and is located in Nanton, Alberta.  It was opened in 1941 and they’ve been a Stampede sponsor since 1960. Eamor’s is one of the oldest Saddleries in North America and the oldest in Canada! In addition to Eamor’s, Associated Grocers and Davidson Enman are also generous contributors to our saddle sponsorship.

A visit to the saddlery
On Monday, April 3, the Royal Trio visited Moor and the saddlery.  The first question I had was where he learned such an amazing skill!? He shared with us that he began when he was eight years old and had made his first saddle by the time he was 17. He talked about how it began as a hobby, but quickly turned into a full-time job.

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2017 Stampede Queen Meagan Peters, JD Moor, 2017 Stampede Princesses: Brittany Lloyd and Lizzie Ryman.

Tooling the saddles
Moor said his favourite thing to do is to tool a saddle. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it’s the detail usually found on the fender or on the skirt of the saddle. Tooling detail can ultimately go anywhere on the saddle depending on your preference. To customize the Royalty saddles, Moor will draw up a pattern, then hand paint and do all the tooling himself. Each saddle is “blinged out” with Montana Silver that each Queen and Princess can have engraved. This was one of the reasons for Monday’s visit.

Every year the saddles are a little bit different than the year before. Keep your eyes peeled to see if you can spot the changes! By this point you can probably imagine the passion this man has for creating saddles. His favorite saddle he made for a client was the Rose Saddle. This saddle took about 600 hours to create! The leather has a reddish brown tone and the entire saddle is tooled with detail. It also has gold plating and conchos on it.

As soon as we met Moor, we could sense his authenticity and genuine love for what he creates. It is people like Moor that make me love the Stampede program continuously. Moor described how the saddles he makes are his legacy.

“Those saddles will be around for a lot longer than I will! You’ll have it for the rest of your life and you’ll remember how you got it! I only do it because I love it. There is no other way,” he says.

And right you are Mr. Moor! We couldn’t be more thrilled to have been given Eamor saddles. Before we were crowned on the big night, the three of us were floored at the sight of such beautiful saddles waiting to be claimed. We hoped that those saddles would be coming home with us that night, and here we are lucky enough to meet the man behind them! We will always think of you, Mr. Moor, before we run through those gates at every Grand Entry. We will make sure they are nice and broken in! Like Moor says, “The saddles are happier that way.”

If you’d like to check out some one-of-a-kind saddles in person and see some adorable animals, come out to Aggie Days at the Western Event Centre from Saturday, April 8 to Sunday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event includes free admission and is fun for the whole family!

 

Can Marching Band Save the World?

Aaron Park, manager, youth education programs, thinks it’s a start, which he shared in his recent Walrus Talk.

“Are my students successful now and in their futures? Does what they learn in the Stampede Showband prepare them for their future careers, quality relationships and to make an impact in their community?” he asked rhetorically.

As five-time world champions, the Stampede Showband is about so much more than just music and performance excellence. It’s about building character in Calgary’s youth and developing important leadership skills that help shape the community leaders of tomorrow.

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Aaron Park delivers his Walrus Talk on March 9, 2017 in Calgary.

“While we’re focused on performance and music at the highest level, we know that this is not the end goal of our students,” he shares. “They go on to be more than musicians; they go on to be engineers, teachers, doctors, volunteers and community leaders.” Continue reading

Advice from an Aggie Days super-fan

I live with an Aggie Days super-fan. It’s an annual highlight for him; something he asks about throughout the year. And right now the anticipation is high in our house, with the animal-filled adventure just days away. When asked just what it is about Aggie Days that he loves so much, the answer is simple.

“It’s fun and way awesomer than school!”

While I can imagine there are quite a few things that rank as ‘awesomer than school’ when you’re six, not much can compete with Aggie Days in his books.  So who better to ask about some of the top must-see events and must-do activities?  Here are his top five picks with descriptions:

  1. Stock dogs – “Basically they just chase the sheep into the pen.”  He doesn’t make it sound very exciting, but it is! The dogs listen to whistle-commands from their handler who stays on the side the whole time - blowing the whistle in different patterns and pitches to guide the dogs – it’s amazing to watch!

Aggie Days Stampede Park

  1. Wagon rides – “It’s kind of cool because you get to ride around the Stampede rodeo arena and stuff, where they drive monster trucks.”   We may have been to Monster Jam in the Stampede Grandstand a time or two…

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Building on our past, looking to the future – Agriculture at the Calgary Stampede

For ten days in July, Stampede Park in downtown Calgary is a whirl of colour and sound, with ferris wheels and fireworks, mini donuts and midway games. But at its heart, as they always have been, are animals and agriculture.

The 10-day festival, which hosts more than one million visitors from across Canada and around the world, is a celebration of community spirit and western traditions. It encourages visitors from all over the globe to put on some boots, and make a connection to Western Canada’s rural roots.

“The Calgary Stampede is one of the few places left in the world that still celebrates agriculture. We make it a commitment to introduce the urban population to the rural population,” says Stampede president & chairman of the board, Dave Sibbald. A local rancher whose family has been part of the Stampede for many generations, Sibbald is passionate about keeping the connection to agriculture alive. “It’s never been more crucial than it is today as the urban population becomes further and further removed.”

David Sibbald (L) with his family

David Sibbald (L) with his family

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Sibbald and two of his horses

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Looking Forward Toward Summer 2017, Calgary Stampede Announces Reverse Parade Route

Taking the stage Thursday, March 28, 2017, Calgary Stampede president & chairman, David Sibbald, gathered the city’s local media in the Boyce Theatre, making a special announcement about the 2017 Stampede Parade. Before making it to the end of the speech, the five-time world champion Calgary Stampede Showband and arrived on stage doing what they do best, playing their heart out and adding to the air of mystery in the room.

Calgary Stampede president & chairman, David Sibbald on stage with the Calgary Stampede Show Band

Calgary Stampede president & chairman, David Sibbald on stage with the Calgary Stampede Showband

Always a man for detail, the Stampede’s fearless leader asked the band to turn about-face, reversing the formation, aptly matching the announcement of a new direction for the 2017 Calgary Stampede Parade route! “The Stampede is now, and always will be, a gathering place for the community to celebrate western traditions and enjoy western hospitality with friends, family and guests.” Said Sibbald, “Today is about an invitation to come watch the iconic Stampede Parade …travelling in a reversed direction on the same route…” Continue reading

Stampede’s solid financial health

In 2016 the Stampede continued to respond to the changing environment while protecting the financial health of the organization. We took on the extra challenge in 2016 to ensure our expenses were aligned with our expected revenue. We worked hard to reduce costs in order to address the anticipated decline in revenue. The end result: a bottom line community investment of more than $2 million in both 2015 and 2016 respectively. This allows us to provide the best support for our community programs, facilities and activities.

Here are some financial and community investment facts:

  • As a not-for-profit organization, our goal is to manage our finances in a way that ensures we can deliver the great experiences our community expects.
  • Yes we had a $12 million reduction to our revenue between 2015 and 2016, but we were very proactive about reducing expenses through both our annual budgets and throughout the past two years since the start of the economic downturn.
  • We expanded our programming and community events with the opening of ENMAX Park in 2016.
  • We continue to actively work with the Calgary Stampede Foundation on the development of Youth Campus.
  • Our ongoing capital budget is higher than it has been over the last couple of years and we are undertaking additional renovations on Stampede Park to make this an even better place for our community.

As a 105-year-old organization steeped in history and tradition we have survived because of our ability to change and adapt. “We continue to be out in our community listening and reacting to what they have to say,” says Warren Connell, Calgary Stampede CEO. “We are looking at how to engage the community and set up programs that appeal to everyone. We have a number of new exciting initiatives planned for the community in 2017 and we look forward to sharing these plans starting this afternoon with an exciting announcement about the Parade.”

The Stampede is a reflection of our community and we work hard to meet and exceed expectations. If you’re interested, we invite you to read our detailed financial statements and learn more about how we give back to the community in our annual Report to the Community.

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2017 Calgary Stampede Canvas Auction: Perspectives from a Newbie

Four months before guests gather to watch the chuckwagons race at the Calgary Stampede, potential sponsors for the chuckwagon canvases gather on Stampede Park to place their bids. The 2017 Canvas Auction, presented by GMC, took place Thursday, March 23 and set the stage for the always long-awaited and much-anticipated GMC Rangeland Derby. As a born and raised Calgarian, I’ve been to the races plenty of times, but seeing the other side of it at the Canvas Auction put a whole new perspective on the build-up to, and community pride of, the drivers and support for the sport.

Left to Right: Princess Brittany Lloyd, Queen Meagan Peters, Indian Princess Savannah Sparvier, Princess Lizzie Ryman

Left to Right: 2017 Stampede Princess Brittany Lloyd, Queen Meagan Peters, Indian Princess Savanna Sparvier, Princess Lizzie Ryman

 As folks gathered on Stampede Park, hearty handshakes were given between bidders and drivers, while naturally curious fans gathered in a separate viewing area to see how it would all play out. In the Boyce Theatre where the action was happening, drivers were led onto the stage one-by-one by the 2017 Stampede Royalty; Indian Princess, Savanna Sparvier, Stampede Queen, Meagan Peters, and Stampede Princess’ Brittany Lloyd and Lizzie Ryman. The drivers were put under the spotlight, with the highest bidder winning the right to sponsor the driver and have their brand advertised on the canvas of the particular sponsored wagon.

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Stampede’s Annual General Meeting has positive outlook for 2017

“I am happy to tell you that the organization is in a solid financial position—yes even after a very rainy Stampede,” Warren Connell, chief executive officer of the Calgary Stampede, shared at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Stampede Park, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Almost 1,000 shareholders were in attendance at the meeting and listened as Connell recapped highlights from 2016 and insight into 2017 and beyond.

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Connell continued by sharing, “Calgary is in the midst of a transformation. Culturally, the city has changed tremendously over the past decade, so to remain relevant the Stampede’s brand values need to continue to align with the values of Calgarians and Albertans. We need to continue to be out in our community listening and reacting to what our community has to say,” he stated as he spoke to the Stampede’s 2016-2018 Strategic Plan.

Connell pointed to how the Stampede tried something new during the 2016 Stampede by providing free admission on the final Sunday, as well as special $5 admission prices at pop-up events earlier in the week. Connell also alluded to similar surprises for Stampede 2017, to be announced to the public in the coming months. Continue reading

Cute animals & Amazing demonstrations at this year’s Aggie Days

Do you know what a Romney, Hampshire or a Dorper is?

These are just a few of the different breeds of sheep that will be shown at Aggie Days Saturday, April 8 – Sunday, April 9 in the Agrium Western Event Centre located on Stampede Park. Admission is FREE!

Live sheep, baby lambs, sheep shearing, spinners & weavers and Clock, Stock and Barrel – our exhilarating stock dog competition – will all be there!

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn / Calgary Stampede

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My farewell from the past two great years as stampede president

This is a bittersweet moment for me as this will be my final blog as Stampede president. It’s impossible to express just how much it has meant to me to lead this organization for two years after being a volunteer for 31 years.

When you are a part of something for that long, it becomes a part of you.cs-posters-1986-01

The 1986 Calgary Stampede poster – the year I began volunteering

One of the greatest gifts from being involved with the Stampede is working with the incredible Stampede team— including 2,300 volunteers and 1,200 year-round employees. The partnership between volunteers and employees is unique and invaluable and it is only because of that partnership that the Stampede is truly able to deliver on its promise to the community.

I am proud to be part of the team that conceived and launched our 2016-2018 Strategic Plan. This plan expands on the Stampede’s aspirations to Align with our Community, Connect through our Brand Promise, Support Youth Achievement in our Community, Build our Vision and Build our Team.

Strategic Plan.JPGRead the 2016-2018 Strategic Plan here!

The Stampede Team continues to work day in and day out to bring to our community exceptional experiences, expanded urban and rural programming, sought-after learning experiences and a world-class, year-round gathering place.

Over the past two years, we’ve seen Stampede grow and evolve and certainly we managed to have had a little fun along the way!

One highlight for me has been choosing the parade marshals and the poster artists.

2016 Stampede Poster

The 2016 Stampede Poster

In 2015, native Calgarian and two-time gold medalist bobsledder Kaillie Humphreys led the Parade. Kaillie is an international role model, and in addition to her sports prowess, she’s an ambassador for the I’ve been bullied campaign and Right to Play.

We were fortunate to have renowned artist Oleg Stravrowsky create the 2015 poster artwork, which accurately depicts the thundering and thrilling chuckwagon races.

2015 was a hard act to follow – so I was delighted when Jann Arden and Paul Brandt came on board as our 2016 parade marshals in honour of the Year of Music in Calgary.  Both have done an excellent job representing Calgary and Canada on a national and international stage with their talent and exemplary citizenship.

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Jann Adren and Paul Brandt: 2016 Parade Marshals

Award-winning local artist Michelle Grant created our beautiful 2016 poster, Born to Buck, highlighting our Stampede Ranch, home to 600 head of some of the finest rough stock in the country.

The past two years have not been without challenges:  we’ve faced a struggling economy and a very volatile Mother Nature. But in the face of these challenges, I’ve watched the Stampede team step up with ingenuity, enthusiasm and unflagging optimism. By being flexible and innovative, we managed to turn those challenges into opportunities to learn, evolve and succeed. I am incredibly proud of each and every member of our Team.

I thank everyone for their support on this journey—it’s been my great honor to serve as Stampede president & chairman of the board and I look forward to continued involvement with the Calgary Stampede and to providing my full support to incoming president Dave Sibbald as he very ably takes over the reins of this fantastic organization.

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Warren Connell, Stampede chief executive officer, Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, his daughter Ella-Grace, and me in the Agricultural Discovery Zone during Stampede 2016

The biggest advancement in the agriculture/agri-food industry? Industry leaders share their thoughts

2017 marks Canada’s 150th birthday! To celebrate this occasion the International Agriculture and Agri-food Committee of the Calgary Stampede (IAC) has created the IAC Canada 150 Reflections Project. We have asked industry leaders who offer a wealth of experience and insights across a broad range of industries to share their thoughts and perspectives on what has been the biggest advancement in the agriculture/agri-food industry.

From major restaurant chains to local producers, here are some of those reflections.

David Farran, President – Eau Claire Distillery         

For many years, agriculture has been viewed as a commodity. The national quota and marketing systems disconnected the consumer from the farmer. In recent years, with the demise of the wheat board and the beginnings of brand development such as ‘Alberta beef’ or ‘Alberta Barley’, we can start to differentiate quality, develop a sense of Alberta ‘terroir’ and we can market ourselves as world class producers. This is good for the relationship between the producer and the consumer, where consumers can trust the value chain and farmers can start to see higher prices by developing targeted, niche products. The greatest advance for agriculture in recent years is a new free market – a driver of innovation.

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A HORSE-LOVER’S GUIDE TO BERLIN

As the saying goes, “The dog may be man’s best friend, but the horse wrote history.” This week we were fortunate to be in a city rich in history and took it upon ourselves to find horse-related attractions in Berlin, Germany.

Perhaps the most famous monument in Berlin is the Brandenburg Gate. Atop the gate is a Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses and driven by the goddess Eirene, who is the goddess of peace. While the Gate has played different political roles in German history, it now symbolizes freedom and the desire to unify the city of Berlin. Our Indian Village Princess, Savannah Sparvier, did a traditional dance in front of the gate and we too, wanted to take part. So, we did an impromptu line dance to Nitty Gritty Dirtband’s “Cadillac Ranch” to honour both cultures’ connection with horses. We had so fun line dancing and gathered a big crowd taking photos and cheering us on!

ITB Berlin

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Making history: Calgary Stampede celebrates a rodeo icon for International Women’s Day

Today, Wednesday, March 8, 2017 celebrates International Women’s Day, a day that honours the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the globe. The Calgary Stampede has an illustrious history of showcasing the outstanding talent of women in western performances. At a time when women were refused the right to vote, western performance and rodeo stars such as Bertha Blancett and Flores LaDue were achieving success and fame as part of the first Calgary Stampede. For more about the exploits of these pioneer cowgirls, see last year’s blog post for International Women’s Day here.

Through the years, hundreds of women have performed in the Stampede Rodeo, and adding to this proud tradition is Mary Burger, a high-speed barrel-racing grandma from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. For over 40 years Mary has been participating in barrel racing events, winning a slew of titles and victories on her way to being ranked number one in the world in barrel racing. At 67 years young, Mary dropped jaws and wowed fans as she achieved a clean sweep in the barrel racing competition at the 2016 Calgary Stampede.  Placing first in the competition for a remarkable four consecutive days, Mary would go on to win the event on Championship Sunday adding another trophy to what one can only imagine is an already cluttered mantle.

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Mary Burger and her horse Mo picking up some speed!

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Inside the Royalty’s Equestrian Program with Janelle Phillips

Hi everyone! Queen Meagan here!

Today I am going to give you the inside scoop on our Equestrian Program with the expertise of our very own equestrian committee member, Janelle Phillips! Janelle was part of the 2009 Royal Trio as a Princess. Since then, she has been passionate about Stampede, our horses and our equestrian program. She describes how “Once the Calgary Stampede gets their hooks in you, it’s hard not to be a part of it.” And that I can definitely agree with!

Janelle with an equine friend

Janelle with an equine friend

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