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.


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

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…”

The new Stampede Parade route, starting at Ninth Ave. and First St. SE, and finishing at Sixth Ave. and Third St. SE.

The new Stampede Parade route, starting at Ninth Ave. and First St. SE, and finishing at Sixth Ave. and Third St. SE.

Marching in reverse, the Parade will now start where it finished in years past, beginning at Ninth Ave. and First St. SE, and finishing in Calgary’s newly developed East Village at Sixth Ave. and Third St. SE. The new route will allow for easier access for parade-goers into Stampede Park, with free admission for all until 1:30 p.m.!

With less than 100 days left until The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth kicks off, the history and tradition of the Stampede Parade marks the beginning of the western spirit that will encompass Calgary running July 7 through to July 16, 2017.

Where in the world is the Showband headed next?

The Calgary Stampede Showband is thrilled to announce that they will be travelling to compete in the World Music Contest (WMC) in Kerkrade, The Netherlands in summer 2017. WMC is the Olympics of music taking place over four weeks from Thursday, July 6 – Sunday, July 30, 2017. The event will feature more than 260 musical ensembles and 20,000 individual musicians. The Showband will be leaving right after Stampede to compete in the marching show band class on Sunday, July 30 against 60 other marching show bands from around the globe.

Photo credit: Kien Le

The Showband is a youth performance ensemble that rehearses and performs year round. Photo credit: Kien Le.

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10 behind-the-scenes moments from the Calgary Stampede Parade

Standing between a band marching towards me in one direction, and a golf cart full of paraphernalia driving by in another, Parade committee member Sharon Spooner looked at me, smiled, and said, “This is it! This is the fun part!” There was a lot that went on behind the scenes of the Calgary Stampede Parade and these were just a few of the moments that stood out to me.

1. There was a larger-than-life bull on the sidewalk, who may or may not have been parked illegally.


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7 Things Musicians (and everyone else) Should Know About Being Around Horses

Since 1985, the Calgary Stampede Showriders have been accompanying the Stampede Showband in parades as a mounted colour guard made up of 12 young riders and their horses. This pairing of horses and marching musicians is unusual and a lot of prep work goes into making sure that the horses are comfortable with the band.

Every year, the Showband and Showriders rehearse together to help desensitize the horses to the craziness of parades, and teach the Showband how to act around horses. It’s a great opportunity for the mostly city-dwelling band members to learn more about agriculture and animal care, especially since the Showband spends a lot of time around animals during the 10-day Calgary Stampede. Here’s a peek at what they learned from the Showriders this year!

Showrider Hannah Braun, 15 years old, and her horse Tokahee teach a group of Showband members about performing around horses.

Showrider Hannah Braun and her horse Tokahee giving a group of Showband members tips for being around horses.

 1. Don’t run through the barns

You don’t want to turn a corner and run into or startle a horse. Don’t jump for the same reason.

2. Use your inside voice

Shouting and screaming can upset horses. Horses are reactive and pick up on the energy of other people an animals around them.

3. Stay a horse length away from a horse’s back-end

That way, even if the horse kicks out, you’ll avoid getting kicked.

Showband member Cassie Groves got to bond with Tohakee, petting the horse from the side so as not to startle the horse.

Showband member Cassie Groves pets Tokahee from the side so that she doesn’t startle the horse.

 4. Ask permission before approaching horses or offering them treats

Sometimes, like with the Showrider “Stand and Pat” events, it’s obvious that you’re welcome to approach a horse. If you’re walking through the barns or see a horse on its own, ask the owner if it’s okay to pet the horse. This is the best way to avoid getting bitten!

5. Approach horses from the side

Horses have blind spots directly in front and behind them. A horse can see you best if you approach from the side and pet their shoulders and back. Plus, if you approach a horse head-on and try to pet its face, it might think your fingers are treats – yikes!

6. Never play instruments while you’re walking through the barns

Sudden movements and unexpected loud noises can startle horses and they might react to the sight of shiny instruments and noise from musical instruments more than you’d expect.

 7. Ask questions

The Showriders love to answer questions about their horses. They spend a lot of time caring for their horses to keep them healthy and happy and are eager to share what they know with others, especially if it helps to keep their horses and others safe.


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

10 Questions With…. A member of the CS Showband

Howdy blog followers!!! I had the pleasure of interviewing Teighan Fioritti from the Calgary Stampede Showband recently and am so excited to share all about her. She is 22 years old and is a fifth year member of the Showband. In addition to this list of impressive credentials, she is the Trombone Section Leader, Euphonium Section Leader, Brass Music Captain, Brass Marching Captain, and the President of the Stampede Show Band Band Council.

Phew! Looks like I’ve found the perfect Member to interview. So without further ado I present to you:

10 Questions With…. A member of the CS Showband

1. What inspired you to join the Calgary Stampede Showband, and how long have you been with the group?

It was my sister actually. I have looked up to her all my life and she found this incredible experience with the Showband and she kinda sucked me into it as well and I have become just as addicted to it as she was. This will be my fourth year marching with the Showband.

2. Calgary Stampede Showband prides itself on traditions of excellence in musicianship and showmanship. Some people may not understand just how much work goes into each and every one of your performances- how much time must you spend practicing and perfecting your skills?

We rehearse for 3 hours each Tuesday night from beginning of September to mid June. We have a band camp once a month, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. So in total just scheduled hours is around 123 hours for Tuesdays and 80 hours in band camps. But that doesn’t include the hours of practice that are required at home or the small ensembles that rehearse separately during the week.

3. I’m sure you have been able to perform in some pretty exciting locations. Where has been your most memorable performance to date?

I was lucky enough to perform in Kerkrade, Holland for the World Marching Band Competition. There were bands from all over the world and we were fortunate, (and good enough) to make it into the finals performance of which we won our show there. We came in second in the world over all – which I think is an incredible feat. My favorite moment was with the small contingent of Canadians that flew over to support us. There was one moment of our show where we created a C lazy S on the field and at that moment the Canadians went nuts obviously recognizing it for what it was. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to share that symbol with the world.

4. During the 10-day Calgary Stampede, how many appearances will the Showband make? I noticed that there may be some smaller group performances popping up all over Stampede Park…can you explain a little about that?

The Showband as a whole will perform 5 times each day. The band is made up of smaller performance groups which include the Brass Machine, the Sax Choir, Front Ensemble, and Drum Line who will do separate performances on park. Each group will go out on park and perform for the crowd for an hour in several locations once or twice a day depending on the day. These are the people that love performing so much that they sacrifice some much-needed nap-time to play their instruments.

5. Sounds like a gruelling schedule! Performing in Calgary with uncertain weather can be challenging at times I’m sure…those uniforms must be pretty warm. How do you all deal with the elements?

It’s tough for sure. But all you can do is roll with the punches. When it rains you run inside to save your instrument and laugh because there is not much else you can do but wait it out. The heat is the worst. Our show uniforms are polyester and don’t exactly breathe like cotton. You will sweat in places you didn’t even know you could, but its okay because everyone is drenched as well. Everyone complains about it but it’s really lighthearted. There is nothing you can do except make it a competition to see who can get the sweatiest. As gross as that sounds it is so much fun!

6. Certainly performing during the Stampede Parade must be one of the highlights of the year for you, can you feel the energy of the spectators on the sidelines and how does that help to get through the long parade?

The parade is really fun. It’s one of the few performances during the year when we can reach an enormous audience. All of our parade songs have actions that the crowd loves; one in particular is ‘You Can Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon. The actions are fun and we have an opportunity to dance and give high fives to the kids along the street, which they think is super cool. Most groups march by, so its really nice that we can break out of that and let the audience know that we appreciate them coming out to see us.

7. Do you have any advice for any aspiring up and coming musicians and performers wishing to join the Showband?

Be ready to work harder then you thought you could and have more fun then you thought possible. I have done some incredible things in my life that were only possible because of the hard work I put into each rehearsal and show. It’s sweaty work but so immensely worth it.

8. Have you ever had an embarrassing moment during a performance?

Unfortunately yes. It was actually during the finals performance of the WMC competition. It had been pouring rain for quite a while before we started our show. It was ironic really, it was during one of the last charts in our show and I had just thought to myself “this is it you did it and you didn’t fall”… well I didn’t fall exactly, but I slipped pretty epically but am proud to say that I made a great recovery and got back up and finished the show. Unfortunately I was in the front row, with 33,000 people watching.

9. Tell us one fact that the public might be surprised to learn about being a member of the Showband?

All together the Showband does around 120 performances during The Ten Day Show, with small ensembles, full group stage performances, parades, and Stampede Breakfasts. But on top of all that we actually rehearse on our spare time. Our show is really important to us, so we try and work on it as much as possible…so we don’t get a lot of down time. We also do recording of our shows and concert band music during Stampede week.

10. The “Promise” campaign has recently been revealed in the media. What is your personal “Promise” for this year’s Calgary Stampede?

My promise is that I will be proud to put on my cowboy boots and say that I am part of the band. (Which I am)

Special thanks to Teighan for taking a break from her very busy schedule to answer my questions. It is evident that she is very passionate about the CS Showband and I can’t wait to check out one of her many performances during the 10-day show (and not to mention some during the rest of the year!).  Want to find out more about the Showband or are you trying to plan your Stampede activities in advance? Have a look here.

Should you have some burning questions in the back of your mind that you’ve always wanted to ask a member of the organization, why not drop us a line? We’d be happy to take any request into consideration. Stay tuned for more new and exciting “10 Questions With…” as we march on with this year’s Calgary Stampede.

For updates and info on everything Stampede, make sure you follow us on Twitter at @calgarystampede and @NGC_CS , on Facebook through our official Facebook fan page, and stay tuned to the official Stampede Blog to learn more about some of the things happening Here. All Year.

Spotlight on Calgary Stampede Foundation

You might not be aware of the fact that the Calgary Stampede itself is a non-profit organization.  And, a lot of what you see on Park happens because of the effort of a huge volunteer base and a dedicated staff that work hard all year long.  But, did you know that many of the talented performers that you see during the Stampede are part of programs offered by the Calgary Stampede Foundation, which is a charitable organization?

The Foundation has a commitment to develop the potential of young people in the community and when you see these young people perform, I think you’ll agree that they are doing a pretty great job of it!

So, you might be asking yourself, which groups does the Foundation support?  Well, here’s a brief blurb on each group and what they do.

The Stampede 4-H on Parade Program is an integral part of the education and the development of young people in agriculture. It’s a show that invites youth aged 10-19 to show their steers, heifers, sheep and horses, and to have them evaluated by industry experts. 4-H Rodeo brings together 120 competitors from the Calgary region. Last year there were 450 entries in 9 rodeo events. As an annual program, it is becoming another Calgary Stampede tradition.

Each year the Youth Speech & Debate committee sponsors both the Stampede Invitational Debate for junior and senior high school students and the annual 4-H debate.

The World Champion Calgary Stampede Showband offers musical training to young Calgarians. Currently the Band is 130 members strong and travels around the world entertaining thousands each year.

The Young Canadians School of the Performing Arts is our largest community youth program. The troupe of 173 receive training in the disciplines of voice, dance and gymnastics. We provide scholarships and academic tutoring for those who require them. If you’ve ever seen the Grandstand show it’s obvious how hard these young people work.

The Foundation also supports two other events:

Each spring during Roughstock, the Aggie Days Program provides a “Day on the Farm” to school children aged 6-12. The program presents tours, exhibits and hands-on demonstrations, and is designed to increase the children’s appreciation for and understanding of agriculture in Alberta.

The Stampede Youth Talent Showdown is dedicated to the discovery, development and encouragement of young amateur entertainers across southern Alberta. These young people are awarded the opportunity to perform at the Stampede, to win cash prizes, and often, to embark upon a career in the entertainment business. The winner of this event competes each year at the youth talent contest sponsored by the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions where they are eligible to receive further scholarships.

So there you have it, another peek into the inner workings of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth and some of the programs and activities that fall under the Calgary Stampede Foundation.

For updates and info on everything Stampede, make sure you follow us on Twitter at @calgarystampede, on Facebook through our official Facebook fan page, visit our website, and stay tuned to the official Stampede Blog to learn more about some of the things happening Here. All Year.

Visiting Bands of the Calgary Stampede – Don’t miss ‘em!

Well, yahoo everyone!!

This is the Visiting Bands first post, and we’re really excited to kick it off!

We’re getting so close to Day 1 of the 2010 Calgary Stampede – you can almost smell the pancakes on the griddle and sawdust in the air. If you’re a marching band fiend in Alberta, this is absolutely your favourite time of year.

We’ve got bands visiting from around the world in 2010 (including Australia and France) and some local favourites, too (the World Famous Calgary Stampede Marching Showband!!) – so don’t miss your chance to see all of them over the 10 days of Stampede. Keep an eye out for them at Stampede Park, at some of the downtown attractions like Rope Square, and at Caravan Breakfasts around the city. You’ll hear them before you see them…:)

And this is your place to get all the details of where and when the bands will be performing, what you can expect from their performances, and maybe even some ‘behind the scenes’ action!

Be sure to save the date for Showbands Live! Prelims will be Tuesday, July 13 in the afternoon starting at 1:00 p.m. in the Pengrowth Saddledome. The slate is wiped clean and the afternoon finalists compete during the evening round starting at 6:00 p.m. It’s a must see marching extravaganza!

Keep an eye on this blog for all the deets!