In celebration of Canadian ranchers on Earth Day

By: Rosie Templeton

There’s an important segment of the Calgary Stampede’s UFA Cattle Trail and the journey of Canadian beef production that comes before the auction market, the feedlot and the grocery store. It’s the Canadian ranch. More specifically, how the Canadian ranchers work to ensure a balanced ecosystem on their operations, considering water use, grasslands, wildlife and how to leave their ranch in good shape to pass on to the next generation.

In honour of the Canadian ranchers inadvertently celebrating Earth Day today and every day, I wanted to spotlight some of the incredible sustainability initiatives and lesser known facts about how our beef is raised.

UFA-Cattle trail 2

What is sustainable beef?

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef defines it as: a socially responsible, environmentally sound and economically viable product that prioritizes planet, people, animals and progress.

Sustainability holds an important meaning to ranchers. For many, it includes everything from passing their operation on to the next generation, to animal care, to the economic viability of their ranch.

How are Canadian ranchers Earth-friendly?

Cattle production and natural resource stewardship go hand in hand,” explains Fawn Jackson, manager, environmental affairs at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. “Cattle ranching isn’t about using resources up; it’s about stewarding them so that they are able to last forever.”

For ranchers, this means employing practices like rotational grazing, or moving cattle from one field to the next to preserve the health of the grass and ensure it can be grazed for many years to come. Good grass management also leads to water filtration, carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat.

UFA Cattle trail 1

What do cattle have to do with wildlife?

“When you choose to eat beef, you are supporting grassland wildlife!” says Jackson. “Within the agriculture landscape, the beef industry accounts for 68 per cent of wildlife habitat, while using only 33 per cent of total agriculture land.”

By preserving grassland, water sources and habitat for wildlife like ducks and moose, ranchers are caregivers to far more than just cattle.

How can I learn more about sustainable beef?

Come take a walk through the Cattle Trail! Every day during the Calgary Stampede, you can take the journey from pasture to plate in the UFA Cattle Trail, located in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

This year’s Cattle Trail will be separated into five sections which are the five pillars of sustainable beef developed by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB): Natural resources, people and the community, animal health and welfare, food, efficiency and innovation.

GRSB Principles

You can also visit crsb.ca and GRSBeef.org for more great information on sustainability from pasture to plate.

Happy Earth Day, I think I’ll celebrate with a steak!

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…

Continue reading

Some of the most notable Calgary Stampede highlights from 2016

2016 was an eventful year for the Calgary Stampede: our bucking stock started and finished the year winning awards at international rodeos, we welcomed more than one million guests during the wettest Stampede since 1927, and Stampede Park hosted visitors year-round for many different ventures, including the Stampede’s first ever Fall Fair. Here’s a monthly recap highlighting only a few of the many milestones the Stampede saw this year.

January
The Calgary Stampede bucking stock brought in the new year in Denver with some big scores at the National Western Stock Show.
Read more…

NWSS photo by Sean Halverson, R-82 Reckless Margie

NWSS photo by Sean Halverson, R-82 Reckless Margie

February
The Calgary Stampede Indian Princess Vanessa Stiffarm flew to Australia for Destination Canada’s 2016 Canada Corrobree – a major tourism roadshow. Vanessa, along with other members from the Stampede and Travel Alberta, helped inform travel tour operators, wholesalers and media about all the incredible things Canada has to offer.
Read more…

February - IP in AUS

March
The Stampede’s Annual General Meeting was held in March. In addition to sharing the highlights from 2015, president & chairman of the board Bill Gray and chief executive officer Warren Connell gave insight into the Stampede’s future by speaking to the Stampede Park development plans. Connell noted that Youth Campus, the TransAlta Performing Arts Studios and Calgary Arts Academy were all well on their way, in addition to the future plans of expanding the BMO Centre, which would provide an estimated 500 full-time jobs and an added $73 million a year to the economy in Alberta and $87 million to Canada’s GDP.
Read more…

Bill Gray, president & chairman (L) Warren Connell, chief executive officer (R)

Bill Gray, president & chairman (L) Warren Connell, chief executive officer (R)

April
Aggie Days moved to their new home in the Agrium Western Event Centre. The lunchtime rodeo took place in the new arena and the animals and exhibits were arranged throughout the main level, in the exhibit hall and around the arena.
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The 2016 Cutting Horse Futurity saw tough competition, new technology and western spirit

It was a case of go big or go home.

Cayley, Alberta’s Dustin Gonnet knew he needed a big score in the second round of the Open Final at the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, after facing down a tough cow in the first round and having the judges penalize him.

“If I wouldn’t have been nailed with that hot quit, I might not have been near as aggressive as I was,” Gonnet said after the event, giving credit to the horse he was on, RPL Cat N Around, for eventually pulling off a big win in the class. “She is super confident about her job. She’s a show pony.”

Dustin Gonnet on RPL Cat N Around, owned by Ronald Patton of Nanton, Alberta

Dustin Gonnet on RPL Cat N Around, owned by Ronald Patton of Nanton, Alberta

As a National Cutting Horse Association sanctioned event, this year’s Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity attracted Canadian riders from across the prairies and American riders from as far afield as Texas.  In total, 331 horse-and-rider pairs competed in seven classes for a share of more than $355,000 in prize during the event October 12 to 16 in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

In the sport of cutting, each horse and rider is faced with a herd of cattle and just two and a half minutes on the clock. Working together they separate, or ‘cut’, a cow from the herd.  The rider then drops the reins and allows the horse to use its instincts, strength and agility to mirror the movements of the cow and keep it from the herd.  This can be repeated two more times as long as there’s time on the clock.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, and for guests interested in extra insight into each run, ‘Smart Bug’ personal listening devices were offered during the Saturday Night Cut of the West.

Earpieces

Used for the first time during the cutting at the Calgary Stampede in 2016, the ear buds were again extremely popular with the crowd at the Futurity on Saturday night.  Listeners were able to hear expert commentary and better understand the judging and incredible skills of the horses and riders.

Guests to the Saturday Night Cut of the West were also on hand for a very special award ceremony, as Travis Rempel was recognized as this year’s Calgary Stampede Western Elite Rider.

Calgary Stampede Western Elite Rider, Travis Rempel, with the Calgary Stampede Royalty and Western Performance Horse committee member

Calgary Stampede Western Elite Rider, Travis Rempel, with the Calgary Stampede Royalty and Western Performance Horse committee member

The award recognizes the incredible skills and success of the men and women who dedicate their talents and time to the versatility of the western performance horse.  Created in celebration of the three western performance horse events offered at the Calgary Stampede, the Team Cattle Penning competition, the Cutting Horse competition, and the Working Cow Horse Classic, the Western Elite Rider is awarded to the rider who earns the most points by placing in the top ten of at least two events.

A victory in the Open Finals of the Cutting Horse competition propelled Rempel to the top in 2016. Rempel says competing during the Stampede is a unique but incredible experience.

“It’s electric; the people, the music, the announcer and the fact that you’re here during the rodeo.” He says the honour of being named the Stampede’s Western Elite rider is extremely special to him, and it means even more to him to have achieved it surrounded by friends.

“To me the cool thing about this sport is that you can be in competition with someone, but they’re your friends and they want to you do well. It’s fun to be around. It’s the best.”

Full results from the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity are available here.

Take the road less travelled to the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler

On October 12-16, the Calgary Stampede will welcome hundreds of competitors from across North America to the annual Cutting Horse Futurity, presented by Wrangler. Some will fly in. Others will come, hauling horses from thousands of miles away. The end goal is the prestigious competition in the state-of-the-art Agrium Western Event Centre. But getting here, and enjoying the city and surrounding countryside can make the experience just that much more memorable.

We spoke with two of the top competitors from 2015 about the competition, and the importance of enjoying the scenery along the way. Russ Elrod, the 2015 Open Futurity Champion, resides in Terrebonne, Oregon.  Carl Gerwien, the 2015 Non Pro Futurity Champion, lives just outside of Calgary near the town of Nanton, Alberta.

Russ Elrod, 2015 Open Futurity Champion

Russ Elrod, 2015 Open Futurity Champion

Carl Gerwien, 2015 Non Pro Futurity Champion

Carl Gerwien, 2015 Non Pro Futurity Champion

 

 

Calgary Stampede: You come to Calgary for the Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity. What is your favourite thing about it? Continue reading

Come see what the buzz is all about: Live honeybees on display at Stampede

While Stampede is always buzzing with activity, this year a new kind of buzz will be heard thanks to some small but feisty honeybees.

The Calgary and District Beekeepers Association will be bringing their engaging and interactive bee display to the Calgary Stampede for the first time.

Liz Goldie, one of approximately 40 volunteers from the association, said they’ve participated in the annual Calgary Stampede Aggie Days event held in April for about 10 years and thought it was time they also bring their exciting and educational display to Stampede.

“We are excited by the opportunity to educate people about bees and beekeeping,” says Goldie, noting that hobby beekeeping is becoming popular in Canada and it’s important that people understand the role of bees in the ecosystem.

Bee display at the recent Aggie Days event.

Bee display at this year’s Aggie Days event.

Goldie says Stampede goers will learn the difference between bees and wasps, as well as ways to help bees flourish.

The bee display will feature an observation hive that includes worker bees, drone bees and a queen bee. The display will also include products of the hive such as beeswax candles, mead and honey.

Photo courtesy Stephen Bennett.

Photo courtesy Stephen Bennett.

The beekeepers association will also educate Stampede goers on the importance of beekeeping to the province of Alberta. Goldie says beekeeping is connected to much of Alberta agriculture through pollination, and Alberta produces more honey than any other province in Canada.

Photo courtesy Cherie Andrews.

Photo courtesy Cherie Andrews.

The honeybees will join their other Country Critter friends in the Agriculture barn. You can find them between the pigeons and the chickens. In this area you’ll also find the mini donkeys, dairy cows, ducks, goats, alpaca and lama, along with Bluebell the dairy cow, the hay toss and grain play box. Be sure to stop by and say hi to all the critters.

There’s lots to see and do in Agrium Ag-tivity, which takes place in the Agrium Western Event Centre and the Agriculture barn. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

And don’t forget to take in the daily agriculture demos, taking place every half hour from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the outdoor stage in front of the Agriculture barn. It’s free fun for the entire family!

For more information on the Calgary and District Beekeepers Association visit www.calgarybeekeepers.com

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

AltaLink and the Calgary Stampede team up to promote farm safety!

On Thursday, November 26, AltaLink generously announced that they will donate $1.5 million to create AltaLink Hall, a 20,000 square foot multi-purpose space within the Agrium Western Event Centre, and support agriculture programming. One of the fantastic new initiatives is Farm Safety Day, a one-day farm safety program aimed at rural youths in grades six to nine.

Pictured: (L) (R)

Pictured: (L) Scott Thon and (R) Warren Connell

“AltaLink’s generous donation to create Farm Safety Day and AltaLink Hall is a milestone in the Calgary Stampede’s effort to continue to showcase agriculture and western experiences,” said Warren Connell, chief executive officer of the Calgary Stampede. Continue reading