Why colour guard is the unexpected sport your child should try this year

When you’re wondering what sport or activity your child should try this year, colour guard usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind – but it should be! Colour guard is what we call the group of athletes/performers/dancers that twirl flags and toss (fake) rifles in front of marching bands. They’re extremely impressive but no one really knows how to join a colour guard, how you learn those skills, or what the colour guard does when they aren’t leading a parade. To answer these questions and more, the Escalade Winter Guard Association is hosting a colour guard Youth Development Camp this month, providing beginner instruction in dance, flag, and rifle skills – perfect for youth of all ages! Plus, if your tween/teen likes it, they can sign up to join the Calgary Round Up Band or Calgary Stetson Show Band this season. Still not convinced? We’ve got 8 reasons your kid should give colour guard a try this summer:

1. They don’t call it the “sport of the arts” for nothing! Colour guard is called the “sport of the arts” because it brings music to life through performance in a competitive format. Performers demonstrate skill, agility, strength and endurance through choreographed movement, dance and use of props set to music to tell a story. Every season, colour guards rehearse several times a week to prepare for competitions. They make it look easy, but it takes a huge amount of skill to gracefully spin and toss colour guard equipment.

The Stampede Showband is an auditioned group for youth ages 16-21. Taylor Fraser, pictured here, is preparing to toss her "rifle" into the air, so it'll spin six times, and then catch it. Photo: End Credits

The Stampede Showband is an auditioned group for youth ages 16-21. Taylor Fraser, pictured here, is preparing to toss her “rifle”. It’ll spin in the air, and she’ll catch it without missing a beat. Photo: End Credits.

The coaches and instructors are seasoned veterans who have performed and competed at the highest levels. Many of the instructors with Calgary’s colour guard ensembles performed with the Calgary Stampede Showband and Drum Corps International (DCI) ensembles, and continue to compete in local elite ensembles like Escalade. Continue reading

International Year of Pulses: Pulses in Alberta

As you gear up for Stampede, some of us get kinda excited about agriculture. There’s a lot you can learn on Stampede Park about how your food gets to your plate. For example: Pulses.

This summer as you venture outside the city and drive through rural Alberta, you may notice some different plants in the fields. You’ll see the usual beautiful yellow canola fields and golden wheat fields, but you may also see some pulse crops growing in Alberta fields.

Over 5,000 Alberta farmers grow pulses. So what are pulses? Have you heard of peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas? These are all known as pulses, the edible seeds of legumes. Each of these types of pulse crops comes in a wide range of colours and sizes.

Fun Fact: The name pulse is derived from the Latin puls meaning thick soup or potage.

Bags of pulse crops such as lentils and chickpeas. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

Bags of pulse crops such as lentils and chickpeas. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

And this year, pulses just happen to be in the international limelight. The United Nations has declared 2016 International Year of Pulses (IYP).

“IYP draws attention to important global issues like nutrition, food security and environmental sustainability,” said Sylvan Lake area farmer Allison Ammeter, chair of the Alberta Pulse Growers and the IYP Canada Committee. “It will leverage the international focus on pulses to build more demand for the pulses produced by Canadian growers, including those in Alberta. It also emphasizes the important role that beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas play in contributing to healthy people and a healthy planet.”

The Alberta Pulse Growers (APG), the industry association representing provincial pulse growers, has joined the festivities and is celebrating IYP in various ways.

In addition to joining with its counterparts across the country to promote IYP through national initiatives like the Pulse Feast in Toronto featuring IYP ambassador Chef Michael Smith, APG has ramped up its own consumer engagement efforts. These activities include the creation of a special IYP 2016 calendar, increased printed recipe resources and an amplified presence at food-related events.

IYP provides an ideal opportunity for the APG to further engage with chefs, who can then share the many benefits of eating pulses with a wider consumer audience, said Ammeter.

A major component of APG’s chef outreach during IYP is through a partnership with the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance (ACTA) to offer numerous dining events featuring beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. APG provided sponsorship to ACTA that included challenging chefs at various ACTA culinary events taking place throughout 2016 to use pulses in innovative ways, said Ammeter.

A special event that APG and ACTA are collaborating on is the Alberta Chef Pulse Development Day taking place now in June. Ten accomplished Alberta chefs from Calgary and Edmonton will participate in a tour that includes a crop walk to see pulses growing in the field, said Ammeter, and a tour of Alberta Agriculture’s Food Processing Development Centre in Leduc. The chefs also accepted the challenge to develop a pulse-based product that could possibly be scaled up at the centre for retail sale in the future.

As we celebrate International Year of Pulses this year, don’t forget that our province is home to many pulse crops.

Here are a few Alberta pulse facts: 

  • There are over 5,000 pulse growers in Alberta.
  • Field peas are the most widely grown pulse crop in Alberta.
  • Chickpea and lentil production occurs predominantly in southern Alberta where the growing season is the longest.

Source: Alberta Pulse Growers

Peas growing in an Alberta field. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

Peas growing in an Alberta field. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

Would you like to learn more about pulses? You can during Stampede! The International Year of Pulses 2016 Travelling Exhibit will be on display in the Agrium Western Event Centre. Stop by and check it out!

And don’t forget to visit the Alberta Pulse Growers and Pulse Canada websites.

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

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

2016 Calgary Stampede poster and the poster artwork legacy

The Calgary Stampede unveiled our 2016 poster in the Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery of the Calgary Public Library’s central branch on October 5, 2015. Community members and Stampede volunteers and employees were thrilled when the curtain pulled back to reveal the priceless piece by award-winning local artist, Michelle Grant: Born to Buck, pictured below.

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“When you visit the Stampede Ranch in Hanna [Alberta], you witness many scenes of horses running freely in the fields together,” said Bill Gray, president & chairman of the Calgary Stampede board of directors, “and that was the inspiration for the poster.” Continue reading

Stampede recognizes community builders with Western Legacy Awards

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Pictured: 2015 Western Legacy Awards recipients (L to R) Chuck Groenveld, Quinn Clark, Marilyn Dyck and Brad Fisher

On November 12 we honoured three outstanding individuals and one incredible group—as well as two inspiring Chairman’s Award recipients—at the 11th Annual Western Legacy Awards.

These awards were established in 2005 to recognize unsung heroes in Southern Alberta who exemplify the Calgary Stampede’s values of commitment to community, pride of place, integrity and western hospitality.

Continue reading

October is Disability Employment Awareness month

Disability Employment Awareness month (DEAM) was established to spotlight the positive outcomes of hiring persons with disabilities in Canada.

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Pictured: In A DEAM World

Five employees from the Calgary Stampede Food & Beverage team helped to bring attention to this great cause on Monday, October 26, 2015. Twelve local organizations were invited to join Mike Montgomery, from the Prospect House placement agency, as well as representatives from Studio C, to help create an inspiring 15 foot by five foot canvas mural, entitled In A DEAM World. Continue reading

OH Ranch surpassed guests’ expectations during Alberta Open Farm Days

Breathtaking views and perfect late summer weather greeted nearly 500 guests at the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch during this August’s Open Farm Days. For the first time since the historic property was gifted to the Calgary Stampede Foundation in 2012, the OH Ranch opened its doors to the public for this unique event.

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Guests learn about the North-West Mounted Police outpost at the OH Ranch

“I wanted to see it in the worst way” said Calgary Stampede volunteer alumnus Kevin Doyle, after taking the tour. “This country is one and a quarter steps from heaven. It really is special.” Those sentiments were echoed by many who took the opportunity to stop in for a visit. Some, like Doyle, have ties to the Calgary Stampede as volunteers or employees. Others curious about the OH Ranch came from as close by as Longview, Alberta to as far away as the Netherlands to see it for themselves. Continue reading

O Canada!

Breathtaking, incredible, inspiring– these are just some of the terms used to describe the 2015 TransAlta Grandstand Show: Canadian Classic.

The 2015 TransAlta Grandstand Show - Classic Canadian

The 2015 TransAlta Grandstand Show – Classic Canadian

It’s hard to say what made this year’s show so amazing; between the tribute to Canadian innovation, allusions to our nation’s natural wonders, The Hockey Song and electrifying pyro technic displays, each set was just as astonishing as the last. But what made me tear up every single time without fail, was the nightly citizenship ceremony.

For 10 nights, live in front of an audience of 20,000 people, 13 immigrant families came onstage with The Young Canadian’s of the Calgary Stampede to take their citizenship oath and were celebrated in spectacular Stampede style.

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Sharing the local love

We’ve seen some really good online discussion on local products at the Calgary Stampede, and wanted to provide some context about the nature of local at the annual Stampede and some of the local initiatives we have running year round…

With our origins as a fair, festival and exhibition it’s always been a mix of showcasing our community to the world by highlighting local talent, businesses, farmers, producers, artists and artisans and bringing entertainment, products and services from outside of Calgary to our community.

We’re thrilled that the Stampede is more than just what happens at Stampede Park. It’s the Amber Approved breakfast at Hotel Arts, it’s the Citadel community barbecue, and it’s the Calgary Ismaili community’s sunset breakfast. Stampede is the sum of all the different celebrations, barbecues, concerts, customs, pancake breakfasts and community connections that make Calgary extra awesome in July.

Back at Stampede Park, when we organize the annual Stampede we are always balancing things: old and new, tradition and modern, local and global.

Pictured: downtown Calgary

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Kaillie Humphries is the 2015 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal!

Today we made the exciting announcement that two-time Olympic bobsleigh gold medalist, Kaillie Humphries, will lead the 2015 Parade!

Pictured: Kaillie Humphries,   native Calgarian, two-time Olympic gold medalist, 2014 Lou Marsh Award winner for Canada's top athlete and 2015 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal!

Pictured: Kaillie Humphries, native Calgarian, two-time Olympic gold medalist, 2014 Lou Marsh Award winner for Canada’s top athlete and 2015 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal!

President & chairman Bill Gray and Humphries made their grand entrance in a horse drawn carriage! Humpries’ bobsleigh helmet concealed her identity until Gray announced her name to the eager crowd.

Humphries confessed to the audience “when I got the call, I almost peed my pants!” She described her memories of growing up in Calgary and her mother dragging her up out of bed at the crack of dawn to get the best seats for the Calgary Stampede Parade*. Continue reading

Learn to do by doing!

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The 4-H on Parade, presented by Cervus Equipment wrapped up today with showings by many impressive Albertan youths.

Stampede Park was particularly busy this week with the wave of high school graduations (congratulations, class of 2015!) and various conferences, however, this didn’t stop us from also cheering on enthusiastic 4-H members as they shared their final projects.

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The Calgary Stampede’s Agricultural mission is to create meaningful year-round experiences for urban and rural audiences on Stampede Park by producing/hosting signature programs that feature animals, showcases, and western events–naturally, we are thrilled to host Canada’s largest gathering of 4-H clubs and members each year! 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

Continue reading

Different Types of Ag Operations in Alberta

Golden fields of wheat blowing in the breeze and cows lazily grazing in the lush green pasture are the first things that come to most people’s minds when they think of Alberta agriculture, but there’s more to the provincial ag industry than grain and cattle. The Wild Rose province is home to many different types of agricultural operations such as beekeeping, sugar beets, pulses, market gardens, elk, bison, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, dairy, eggs and much more.

Did you know that Alberta is the largest honey-producing province in Canada? That’s right. Alberta produces approximately 40 per cent of Canadian honey. There are about 275,000 beehives throughout the province producing an average of 141 pounds per hive annually. Long daylight hours in the summer; access to vast expanses of clover, alfalfa and canola that provide foraging for bees; and a world wide reputation as suppliers of quality honey are all advantages for Alberta honey producers.

And if that doesn’t make Alberta sweet enough, the province also produces refined sugar. There are approximately 250 sugar beet growers in southern Alberta who provide the only domestic source of sugar in Canada. These producers grow approximately 35,000 acres of the speciality crop. A long growing season; few diseases; excellent soil; warm and sunny summers; cool and sunny autumns; and high quality irrigation water combine to make southern Alberta a perfect location for high yields of quality sugar beets. Every day consumers enjoy sugar products grown in southern Alberta.

Consumers also enjoy healthy dishes such as baked beans, split pea soup, hummus and chili courtesy of Alberta pulse producers. These delicious foods that are high in fibre, gluten free and a source of protein, are made with pulses, which are the edible seeds of legumes. There are about 5,000 pulse producers in Alberta. In 2011, pulse primary production contributed approximately $240 million to the provincial economy. In Alberta, a variety of pulse crops are grown including field peas, dry beans, lentils, chickpeas and faba beans. Pulses are an important part of a producer’s crop rotation as they help break disease cycles, reduce inputs because of their nitrogen fixing abilities; and increase yields on other crops in the year following a pulse crop. In addition to being good for the land and growers’ bottom lines, pulses are also an important part of the growing food product development industry in Alberta.

Speaking of beans and peas, market gardening is also popular in Alberta. Market gardening is producing fresh vegetables and marketing these crops directly to the consumer. Fresh vegetable market gardening is distinct from commercial production in which the vegetables are marketed through packers, wholesalers, retailers and restaurants in order to reach the consumer. Market gardeners are small-scale producers. They develop their own markets and sell all of their produce directly to consumers during the growing season. Market gardens are often operated as complementary enterprises with bedding plants or u-pick berry production. Many producers are also incorporating ag tourism and events to drive retail sales. Vegetables such as beets, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes, pumpkins and much more are grown here in Alberta.

For more information on these ag industries check out the following websites:

Alberta Beekeepers: www.albertabeekeepers.org

Alberta Sugar Beet Growers: www.asbg.ca

Alberta Pulse Growers: www.pulse.ab.ca

Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association: www.albertafarmfresh.com

Don’t miss Aggie Days this weekend at the BMO Centre, Stampede Park. Admission is FREE for everyone! And make sure you become a fan and follower of the Aggie Days Facebook and Twitter accounts for all the latest news!