Introducing the 2016 Calgary Stampede Royalty

Anticipation filled the air on Stampede Park throughout the months of September and October as the competitions for Calgary Stampede Queen & Princesses and Calgary Stampede Indian Princess were underway. To narrow down to the final three Stampede Queen and Princesses, 21 hopeful contestants took part in a four-week long contest with numerous competitions such as public speaking, equestrian, personal interviews and more. The Indian Princess pageant took place over two weeks, with five applicants and several events, including speech training, horsemanship and attending community events.

Excitement reached its highest peak with the crowning of Stampede Queen Maggie Shortt, Stampede Princess Chelsey Jacobson, Stampede Princess Baillee Billington and Stampede Indian Princess Vanessa Stiffarm. These four new Calgary Stampede ambassadors have already begun the journey of a lifetime; the Royalty have already attended events representing the Stampede and will make more than 400 appearances throughout the year. So just who are these four young women and what are they looking forward to this year?

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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.


“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

Spotlight on: New Things to Look Forward to This Year!

With the Calgary Stampede only a few days away, there isn’t much happening at Stampede Park this week in terms of events as all hands are on deck putting on the finishing touches across all the venues on Park in preparation for Stampede.

So let’s change gears for a moment with the return of Stampede Spotlight and take a look at some of the new and returning events, activities, and other things that you can look forward to at this year’s Stampede:

  • New Midway Foods:  Everyone looks forward to what new and wacky food ideas will be making their way to the Stampede Midway this year.  Last year featured the debut of the Pulled-Pork Parfait, which garnered a lot of attention from local food critics and media personalities alike.  This year, you can look forward to items such as the Glazed Doughnut Burger (Glazed doughnut, hamburger with fixings, glazed doughnut), the Moowich (Chocolate chip cookie, ice cream, chocolate chip cookie), and the Deep Fried Pop Tart, as well as MacKay’s Ice Cream’s exclusive Stampede ice cream flavour: Pancake Breakfast.
  • ENMAX Ice Show:  Last year’s Acrobatic Ice Show – A Rock and Roll Fantasy was a big hit with crowds and thanks to ENMAX, the ENMAX Ice Show will return to the Stampede Corral this year, this time with Olympic Gold Medalists and World Champions Jamie Sale and David Pelletier headlining.
  • VOLTE:  Each year, the Grandstand Show features a different theme but this year’s show promises to take things to a whole new level with heat, horses and hoofbeats.  Featuring two black stallions, 180 performers and hundreds of fireworks and fireworks effects, this year’s Grandstand Show will be something that has to be seen to be believed.
  • New Items at the Stampede Market:  You never know what wacky or cool gizmo or gadget will appear at the Stampede Market, or which one will become the hit of the year.  A few of the new items making an appearance this year include the BallBike, Blizzie, and the Zoku Quick Pop Maker.
  • 2011 Stampede Packs:  Every year, the ever-popular Stampede Packs bring value and fun to one’s visit to Stampede, with many styles each year selling out.  This year features refreshes to the CJAY 92 Pack, the 98.5 Virgin Radio Pack, the Kid’s Pack featuring the official mascot of the Calgary Stampede: Harry the Horse, and of course, the Calgary Stampede Pack.

And that’s just a taste of some of the new and exciting things to look forward to at this year’s Stampede.  Other things include the human cannonball, David “The Bullet” Smith Jr., who will launch himself across Saddledome Plaza (or in other words, the length of a 747 aircraft) twice daily, and fire-whipping contortionist Aiden Orange leading the daily finale at the Bell Midway Circus.

There’s so much to see and do at this year’s Stampede that there isn’t enough room to do it all justice, much less fit it all in a single trip.  But there’s no need to feel overwhelmed as you’ll be able to use various online tools this year to help you plan your Stampede.  For example, you can use the online planner to view what’s happening for any given day, the official Calgary Stampede iPhone app if you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, and new this year, text “NEXT” to 313131 on your mobile phone to receive suggestions, announcements, and recommendations.

Finally, don’t forget that you can always get the latest news, tips, and other announcements by signing up for our Stampede Insider newsletter, following us on Twitter at @calgarystampede, becoming a fan of the official Calgary Stampede Facebook page, visiting our website at, and of course, by keeping an eye here on the Stampede Blog.



Our own Grandstand Show Musical Director, David Pierce, brings home the Emmy for Outstanding Musical Direction!! Dave won this incredible award, beating out his “acknowledged ‘heroes’ in the music biz” – people like Canadian Producer David Foster and Hairspray composer Marc Shaiman.  An incredible feat! Congratulations Dave!!   

Best known for his fresh approach to orchestral writing, Emmy-award winner Dave Pierce is as equally comfortable conducting a 100 piece live studio orchestra as he is producing a midi-score using computers and samplers.  His sound has been described by Film Score Monthly as “son of John Williams meets Jerry Goldsmith”. Critically acclaimed across music genres, Pierce’s style spans from big band  to cinematic infused scores.  

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Dave Pierce wins the Emmy!!

An alumnus of Berklee College of Music (1992), Pierce regularly works in all major markets; New York, L.A., Nashville, Toronto and Vancouver.  He orchestrated music for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Concert Tour and Jesus Christ Superstar Gospel, and has worked with legendary entertainment producers to develop many successful projects including The Calgary Stampede’s Evening Grandstand Show, Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular featuring The Rockettes, NBC’s Macy’s Parade and many television awards shows including the ACMA’s in USA and the Gemini Awards in Canada.   

In 2010, Pierce was the Music Director and Composer for the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. His scores accompanied the Opening, Medals and Closing Ceremonies which were viewed by a television audience of 3.5 billion people.  The Olympic project entailed scoring over five hours of original music, producing sessions, developing creative concept with the ceremonies team and conducting over 500 hours of orchestra, choir and big band recordings.
Often referenced by the media as “Canada’s next David Foster”, in August 2010 Pierce won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics in the same category as fellow nominee and musical inspiration David Foster. Pierce has arranged music for a multitude of artists including Bryan Adams, Carrie Underwood, Michael Bublé, Nelly Furtado, Jann Arden, Tommy Tune, Sarah McLachlan, k.d. lang, Alanis Morissette and Petula Clark. He has produced gold and platinum selling CD’s including EMI released CD’s for the Opening and Closing of the 2010 Olympic Wintergames featuring Nickelback, Avril Lavigne, Donald Sutherland, Hedley, Simple Plan, K-OS, Joni Mitchell, Measha Brueggergosman, Ben Heppner and Nikki Yanofsky.    

In 2005 Pierce was commissioned to compose a new work for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, featuring a symphony orchestra and one-thousand voice choir.  Symphony Orchestras across North America regularly perform Pierce’s music.

reposted with credit:  

For more information please see the Calgary Herald coverage on Dave:

Spotlight on: Everything Else!

It's here.

Well, it’s official: Stampede 2010 has started!

Over the last couple of months, Stampede Spotlight has highlighted the diverse array of things to do on Park, some of which you may have heard about, and some of which you may have not.

Today, I’ll quickly highlight some of the other things that I may have missed, as well as show you where you can go to find more hints, suggestions, and information to help you make your Stampede experience this year a memorable one.

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Spotlight on: Showbands Live!

Who doesn’t like a good marching band?

You may already know of the world-famous Calgary Stampede Showband, but the more the merrier, right? With the equally world-famous Calgary Stampede Parade happening this week, I figured I’d take the time to talk about the bands from in and around the city as well as from around the world that you’ll probably see in various Stampede events this year.

Many different bands will be participating in the festivities this year, with some from around Calgary and the surrounding area, and some from as far away as Australia and France.

These bands will make appearances not only at the Stampede Parade, but also around Stampede Park, as well as at other Stampede events happening around town like the official Stampede Caravan breakfasts.

On Tuesday, July 13, many of these bands will be competing at Showbands Live! (another event free with Park admission) at the Saddledome for a share of $18,000 in prize money.

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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.

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Spotlight on: The Extreme Cowboy Race

It’s time to Cowboy Up.

A big hit on RFD-TV in the United States, the Extreme Cowboy Race will be making its debut in Canada at the 2010 Calgary Stampede.

Originally created by Craig Cameron, the Extreme Cowboy Race is a timed and judged race through an obstacle course that is designed not only to push horse and riders out of their traditional comfort zones, but also test the communication between horse and rider and the horsemanship skills and athletic abilities of each competitor.

A multi-faceted equestrian sporting event, just some of the obstacles that have been featured in previous races have included barrel jumps, log pulls, water crossings, archery shoots, and balloon shooting with pistols or rifles.

A customized version of the Extreme Cowboy Race sanctioned by the Extreme Cowboy Association (EXCA) will be held at this year’s Stampede.

Known as the Calgary Stampede Cowboy Up Challenge, it will be designed to take advantage of the audio, video, and other various capabilities of the Saddledome to create a customized race course never seen before, and you can catch it there at 3 p.m. daily between July 10-12.

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Spotlight on: Team Cattle Penning

Many of you loyal Stampede Blog readers should know by now that many of the agricultural based competitions that occur on Stampede Park during Stampede time have evolved from actual farm-related tasks. We’ve already covered Sheep Shearing, Sheep Herding, the Heavy Horse Pull, and the World Champion Blacksmiths’ Competition here on Stampede Spotlight alone.

Another such event is Team Cattle Penning. The sport of Team Cattle Penning (sometimes abbreviated to Team Penning for short) is, in my opinion, one of the Stampede’s best kept secrets when it comes to fast paced and exciting events appropriate for all ages, and the Calgary Stampede Team Penning Competition is happening in the Saddledome July 7 -12.

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Spotlight on: SUPERDOGS

Stock dogs aren’t the only dogs that get showcased at the Stampede.

Making their return this year is the ever popular President’s Choice SUPERDOGS, this time in a new venue.

Located this year on the upper level of the Big Four Building, the SUPERDOGS run, jump and soar to unbelievable heights. Be amazed as they perform tricks, run through obstacle courses, and showboat for the audience at every opportunity.

This year’s theme is “BFF-LOL-WOW!” because these SUPERDOGS will be your best friends forever (BFF), will make you laugh out loud (LOL), and will display antics and athleticism that will make you say “WOW!”

What’s equally just as surprising is that many of the dogs that appear in the show were adopted from humane societies and shelters throughout North America.

To give you a taste of what to expect from the show, here’s a clip from last year (although ignore the venue and schedule information in the video):
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Spotlight on: Sheep Herding

An important task for anyone involved in raising livestock is herding. Most times, the herding of livestock is performed with the assistance of other animals. In the case of sheep, it’s usually performed by border collies, although it’s not unusual for other breeds of dogs to be used. Border collies are typically chosen for their energetic temperaments and their intelligence.

Last time on Stampede Spotlight, I told you about how something as simple as sheep shearing could turn into a popular competition worldwide. Sheep herding has turned into a popular competition as well, and the Calgary Stampede runs its own competition every year, known for being one of the richest competitions around with over $16,000 in cash and prizes available to be won this year.

It’s “woof, woof” meets “baa, baa” as stock dog meets sheep stock in a battle of wills during the World Stock Dog Championship happening on July 11 and 12 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

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Spotlight on: Sheep Shearing

Many of the agricultural based competitions on Stampede Park that happen during Stampede time have evolved from actual farm-related tasks. For example, the Heavy Horse Pull, World Championship Blacksmiths’ Competition, and many of the events at the Stampede Rodeo are based on everyday chores that working farm hands have had to perform.

Generally, they just start off as friendly competitions. One guy says to another guy “Hey, I can do that faster and better than you can!” while the other guy says “Oh yeah? Prove it!” and all of a sudden the two start going at it.

Every once in a while, those “friendly competitions” start to get a little more popular to watch by others (“Hey, come down and see me kick this guy’s butt!”), a little bit more organized (“Hey, come down on this date at this place and see this guy kick that other guy’s butt!”), and sooner or later, these friendly competitions start to become regular public events.

One such farm-related task is Sheep Shearing, which has turned into a popular competition worldwide. The Calgary Stampede puts on its own competition every year, and you can catch the North American Sheep Shearing Challenge between July 9 and 11 in the Victoria Pavilion.

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Spotlight on: Vintage Tractors

The gleam of the paint as the light hits the chassis, the roar of the engines as the driver brings his machine to life, the sheer horsepower barely contained and about to be unleashed, the anticipation as the driver awaits the signal to go, all of the action and excitement that one can only find in the world of…tractors?

Formula 1 racing may have wrapped up in Montreal last weekend, but anyone who can relate to or appreciate cars, mechanical horsepower, machinery, or a really loud engine may be surprised to find out how much they can relate to a Tractor Pull.

Like its heavy horse equivalent, a Tractor Pull involves hauling a heavy load a certain distance. The winner of the competition is the one who can haul it the furthest.

But that’s not the amazing part of the Tractor Pull at the Stampede. No, the amazing part is that all of the machines taking part in the competition had to have been built before 1960. That’s right, many of the machines taking part in this competition are antiques that have been lovingly restored by their owners for the sole purpose of competing in a game of one-upmanship.

And you can see it all live at the Vintage Tractor Pull and Tractor Show & Shine taking place in the Big Top on July 10 and 11!

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Spotlight on: Light Horses and Horse Haven

If you’ve been following Stampede Spotlight over the last week, you’ll notice that there’s been a lot of concentration on heavy horses (also known as draft horses), which you can learn all about by visiting Draft Horse Town, a new exhibit for this year’s Stampede.

Their lightweight counterparts are aptly known as light horses, and they typically weigh between 900 to 1,500 lbs. They are primarily used for riding or for light work such as pulling buggies. There are dozens of breeds, and many of the horses that you see being used at Stampede time (for example, thoroughbreds are the main horses used for horse racing) are typically classified as light horses.

This year, 16 breeds of light horse will be on display at Horse Haven in the Agriculture Building. Open all 10 days of Stampede from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Horse Haven includes educational displays where you can learn about each light horse breed and interact with the horses representing those breeds, as well as speak with their owners to learn more about them or what it takes to own and maintain one.

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Spotlight on: Heavy Horse Show

If you’ve been keeping up with our Stampede Spotlight feature here on the Stampede Blog, you’ll know that heavy horses (also known as draft horses) were traditionally used to carry heavy loads.

You’ll be able to learn all about them by visiting Draft Horse Town, new to this year’s Stampede, where you’ll see examples and exhibits on how they were used to help settle Western Canada. You’ll also be able to witness first-hand just how much load these beasts of burden can haul by catching the Heavy Horse Pull competition in the Big Top, July 16-18.

That said, heavy horse owners are very proud of their horses and sometimes enjoy showing them off. They’ll dress them (and themselves) up, outfit them in beautiful costumes, hitch them to some fancifully decorated wagons, and give them every opportunity to strut their stuff in front of a crowd.

This year, you’ll be able to see these magnificent beasts in all their majesty and splendour at the Heavy Horse Show, taking place in the Saddledome between July 9-12, and featuring musical performances from members of the CPO on July 10 and 11 in the evenings.

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