With 77,000 Christmas Lights and 500 hours of work, Stampede Park has a beautiful public display for the holiday season

“I like my blue trees the best, they’re my signature look,” said Sandy McAfee, park maintenance supervisor and Christmas lights display expert, when asked about the stunning lights display across Stampede Park. McAfee shared that her team, which consist of two core lights-hangers, Kevin Smith and Glen Felt of the Park Maintenance team, as well as four to five additional helpers, bases the lights displays around the locations on Stampede Park. “We use blue and white for the BMO Centre, since those are BMO’s colours, and Stampede colours, red and white, for the Stampede Headquarters Building and main roadway.”

Christmas Lights Stampede Park

McAfee’s signature blue trees have been featured in a lot of surprising places – most notably, they were included digitally outside the Saddledome in one of the old NHL Hockey Xbox games!

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A tour of ENMAX Park

Summer is just around the corner and it’s time to get outside and enjoy the city! This past weekend, I took a detour along the Elbow River and through the newly completed ENMAX Park. An exciting addition to Stampede Park in 2016, ENMAX Park will serve as Indian Village’s new home during Stampede and function as a inner-city green space year round.


Calgary is known for our extensive network of pathways, totalling almost 800 km throughout the city, and ENMAX Park lies at the heart of it all. A few hundred metres from where the Elbow and Bow River pathways converge, and a stone’s throw from the Stampede facilities, the Park is an oasis.

New bridge

You can stroll or ride along the river, relax on a bench, and check out the new public art piece, Rainbow Trout.

Rainbow Trout

If you are feeling up to it, you can even climb the stairs for an unbelievable view of Stampede Park and downtown Calgary.


And what about during Stampede?  The new ENMAX Park is more than three times the size of Indian Village’s previous location and will allow the 26 tipis, representing the five nations of Treaty 7, to be arranged in a traditional circle formation. The expansive green space includes a performance pavilion and the refurbished Sweetgrass Lodge. Visitors will find all their favourite Indian Village activities in the new location, including cooking demonstrations, tipi raising competitions, and traditional arts and craft displays. The Bannock Booth is also moving to ENMAX Park and will be housed in Sweetgrass Lodge.  Official Opening Ceremonies and Camp Moving Ceremony for Indian Village will take place on Friday, July 8, the first day of Calgary Stampede 2016. You will be able to access the park via a new pedestrian bridge near the Kids’ Midway area and the new MacDonald Avenue Pedestrian Entry.

There are just over 30 days until Stampede 2016, which gives you plenty of time to check out ENMAX Park before the grand opening. In it’s inaugural spring, ENMAX Park is shaping up to be a beautiful inner-city green space that Calgarians can enjoy year round!

Meet Allison Healy, Tipi Owner from the Blood Tribe (Kainai Nation)

This year, Indian Village moves to ENMAX Park. The 26 tipis represent the five nations of Treaty 7: Kainai, Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda, Siksika and Piikani. Each tipi has a unique design on the outside. Approximately 500 people will live in Indian Village during the 10 days, with daily performances adding another 1,000 people per day. More than 40 competitions and events take place in Indian Village during the July Stampede.

In part two of a five part series, we speak with a tipi owner from each of the five tribes of Treaty 7. Today’s blog post is a chat with Allison Healy of Kainai Nation.

After celebrating their 30th year at Indian Village presented by PennWest last summer, the Healy family will once again set up their tipi, adorned with yellow and green paint featuring a water serpent, along with elk and deer. In what started through a family connection, Allison Healy and her family are regulars and very involved.

Allison’s late husband, Earl, started helping at Indian Village in the early 1980s. Once an opening for a new tipi owner came up, Earl and the Healys took it.

“We had a relative who was one of the tipi owners so my husband helped with set up… for a couple of years,” Allison Healy said. “My husband wanted to be a tipi holder and start camping there. This was after our relative had quit so he took over.” Continue reading

Calgary Stampede’s new bridge wins Award of Merit for innovative design

A new bridge that spans the Elbow River, from main Stampede Park to the Stampede’s new ENMAX Park, was recognized by the Consulting Engineers of Alberta (CEA) for its thoughtful design that accommodates western lifestyle and flood resistance. The bridge was completed in June 2015, just in time for Stampede, to replace the old “blue bridge” that was lost during the flood of 2013.

Members of the bridge construction team accepting the CEA’s Award of Merit

Members of the bridge construction team accepting the CEA’s Award of Merit

I spoke with Mark Bowen of Read Jones Chistoffersen Ltd. who accepted the award on behalf of the team and he told me about the planning and construction of the new bridge, and how the design accommodates all of the bridge’s different users.

The bridge connects Stampede Park’s ENMAX Park with the main land. Photo by Roy Ooms.

The bridge connects Stampede Park’s ENMAX Park with the main land. Photo by Roy Ooms.

Protecting the river while protecting Stampede Park from flooding

Based on its location across the Elbow River’s floodway, the new bridge was to be as flood-proof as possible. “Normal practice in bridge design is to lift the bridge deck above the flood level to minimize obstructions in the river. This project presented unique challenges in the mitigation of flood flows and the design of the deck to withstand the applied loads from flood conditions,” Bowen explained. Continue reading

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

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

Calgary Stampede hosts 10 Chinese chefs for kitchen tour

Cowboy culture and a deep appreciation for Stampede time drew 10 Chinese chefs from Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing out to tour our Food & Beverage facilities late last month.

These international guests traveled to our fair province to learn more about Alberta Beef, our culinary scene and world-famous hospitality industries; they traveled with Cargill representatives to tour various locations during their week-long stay.

Pictured: (in white jackets) Chef Dale and Chef Kwong making memories with the Chinese tour group and Cargill representatives. Our guests not only got a tour of Stampede facilities, they also got a chance to check out the public art pieces on Stampede Park, like the Roundup, featured behind the group

Pictured: (in white jackets) Chef Dale and Chef Kwong making memories with the Chinese tour group and Cargill representatives. Our guests not only got a tour of Stampede facilities, they also got a chance to check out the public art pieces on Stampede Park, like the Roundup, featured behind the group

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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

2015 Aboriginal Awareness Family Day Festival and Pow Wow Competition


The 2015 National Aboriginal Week festivities included an exciting full day of cultural exchange on Stampede Park. On Saturday, June 20, Indian Village hosted a family day Pow Wow. For First Nations peoples, the Pow Wow is a chance to connect with family and old friends, in addition to making new friends.


The day began with a free pancake breakfast, followed by the grand entry and opening remarks, a pow wow, Métis jigging and hoop dancing. Former Grand National Chief Phil Fontaine, and the comedian Don Burnstick also spoke to the crowds. 


Pictured: a buffalo float contribution to the 2015 Parade. The first Stampede Parade took place on September 2, 1912. It was lead by 1,800 Treaty 7 First Nations people in full regalia. Today, it’s one of the largest parades in North America, second only to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.





Pictured: Indian Princesses-in-training practicing their fancy dance moves.

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Did someone say gathering place?

It amazes me how much this place has changed and grown over the nearly 14 years I have been an employee at the Calgary Stampede. I have seen buildings torn down; new buildings go up, changes in leadership, changes in departments, and changes in responsibilities … really so much change!

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin

This past month has really shown me personally just how much of a gathering place we are for both the local community and visitors from a far. I have had the pleasure of welcoming my own friends and family to three different events hosted on Stampede Park in the last 30 days. Friends have called to see if I can come and say hi while they are here, asking if I have had anything to do with the event they are attending, and to answer their questions about the various services that might be available to them while they are visiting Stampede Park.

In May, I received a call from a friend who was going to be attending the Canadian National Volleyball Championships, as her daughter was playing on a team. She wanted to know what options might be available to the team for food & beverage … of which there were plenty to share with her. While at work during the event, I ran into my friends in the concourse – I was able to have a quick chat with them and even sneak a peek of their daughter playing volleyball in Hall E of the BMO Centre.

Shortly thereafter, another friend shared they would be attending some of the grad festivities here on park – their daughter was graduating and attending her formal banquet at the BMO Centre. Photos and stories of their night were shared on Facebook, showcasing our amazing venue and beautiful décor. It was a sight to see, knowing that I had played a very small part in such a special occasion and celebration for them.

Today is the first day of the Global Petroleum Show – an international event that allows us to showcase our fantastic venues and western hospitality to the world. Yesterday afternoon I received a call from a family member who I haven’t seen in quite some time – he is exhibiting at the Global Petroleum Show – and until he arrived in Calgary, he had no idea that the show was actually at Stampede Park. We have now made plans to connect and I will be able to share with him all of the wonderful things both the show has to offer, but also our amazing park.

These last 30 days have really reminded me about what it is we are here to do. We are here to welcome all those who choose to visit; we are here to showcase what we can do together as a team; we are here to bring our community together through the western hospitality that is the heart and soul of our organization.

I have never been more amazed by what we can do and more proud to say I work for the Calgary Stampede.

Learn to do by doing!


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.


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

Howdy, my name is Jocelyn

During my first month at the Calgary Stampede  I had the pleasure of seeing the inner workings of one of oldest, most iconic and community-minded organizations in this city. I’ve learned that the Stampede offers so much more beyond the 10 days in July and I have had the rare privilege to go behind the scenes of some of our city’s most beloved historical sites. I am excited to contribute to this great organization and am eager to share all of my experiences with you. I hope that you will join me by reading about my adventures on Stampede Park, preparation for Stampede 2015 and struggle to find a cowboy hat that fits! Three experiences that have stood out are:

Floyd Aberle pictured above.

Floyd Aberle pictured above.

1. A tour on Park with Floyd Aberle Many visitors, volunteers and partners on Park know Floyd Aberle—he’s a familiar face to all due to the different roles he’s played over the years to shape Stampede’s legacy and the many different hats he’s worn (all western, of course). I jumped at the chance to tour the facilities on Park with Floyd; in two hours we managed to cover BMO Centre, Big Four Building, Agrium Western Event Centre, Grandstand, Mavericks, ranahans, The Lazy S, Stampede Corral, Trailbalzer Centre and CS Mercantile. It was a big day, so be sure to read about the highlights here.

A quick snap shot I took while out for lunch last year.

A quick snap shot I took on Stephan Avenue last year.

2. Giving back The importance of making a positive impact in the community has been a salient and frequent talking point in the cultural zeitgeist over the last few years. I never imagined that a job in corporate communications could lead me into a career in community engagement—an opportunity to reach out to other local non-profit organizations and offer support before, during and after Stampede time. The backbone of the Stampede is comprised of 2,300 active volunteers. In my short time here, I’ve learned that the Stampede’s western hospitality extends beyond just the pancake breakfasts and square dancing, community groups are also welcome invite Stampede volunteer committees to come out to their events. Did you know that the Stampede also supports other non-profit fundraisers with silent auction items? Or that children can attend our two-day Stampede School program? Stampede programming is designed to provide year round, first-class educational, inspirational and fun experiences. My respect and passion for this organization has grown immensely and I look forward to contributing to the work that the Stampede does by sharing these amazing resources with as many people as I can!

Yahoo! I've got my boots, my hog and I'm ready for Stampede 2015.

Yahoo! I’ve got my boots, m’hog and I’m ready for Stampede 2015.

Becoming part of the Stampede family After disclosing my Calgarian roots, transplants to the city often exclaim “you’re a unicorn!” And for a while, I agreed. Where have all the native Calgarians gone? The Stampede, it would appear! I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing Stampede time for nearly two decades and watching it adapt to changing demographics and needs, while remaining true to its western roots. I think that the stewards of the Stampede—volunteers and employees alike—have done a marvelous job adapting to the audience and creating narratives that remain in the hearts of everyone in our community. I am so excited to become part of this great story!


Stampede, Floyd style

As promised in my introductory post here is more about my tour of Stampede Park with Floyd Aberle, one of the Calgary Stampede’s proudest RANGERS. The man. The ultimate tour guide:

Floyd Aberle pictured above

Floyd Aberle pictured above.

Many visitors, volunteers, employees and partners on Park know Floyd Aberle—he’s a familiar face to all due to the different roles he’s played over the years to shape Stampede’s legacy and the many different hats he’s worn (all western, of course).

I recently had the pleasure of touring several Stampede facilities with Floyd. As we walked through Park, Floyd spoke of how he started his career in 1971 as a sweeper and eventually moved his way up to become a facilities manager, then the operations manager of the Saddledome. Floyd also volunteered for the Stampede Showband as a truck driver. As we stopped by the massive Showband trophy case inside BMO, Floyd’s face lit up.

Fun Fact: The original parts of the BMO Centre was built and opened in 1981

Fun Fact: The original parts of the BMO Centre was built and opened in 1981

“They’ve won five world championships, three in a row. The only showband in the world to do that” he said.

Next we made our way to the Big Four Building where Floyd explained that in 1957, the Big Four opened as the only trade show building with a curling rink. As curling fell out of favor with the general public, the Big Four served as a restaurant and casino, before the Stampede Casino was built, Floyd explained. The Big Four was also used as a world broadcast epicenter during the 1988 Winter Olympic games and is currently where the Frontier Pavilion is held during Stampede time.

Inside the Big Four Building.

Inside the Big Four Building.

“The Big Four has seen a lot,” said Floyd as he spoke of the devastating 2013 flood damage when the water rose high enough to push water up the basement stairs and out past the front doors.

Next we made our way to the Stampede Grandstand, a 17,000 seat, plus 8,000 standing row stadium. The Grandstand is where the rodeo, chuckwagon races and evening shows are hosted each year.

View from the top of the Grandstand building.

View from the top of the Grandstand building.

As we made our way through the internal mazes within the walls of the Grandstand building, Floyd told the tour group his list of must-have items during Stampede time each year:

“A cowboy hat, sunglasses, TransAlta Grandstand Show tickets and a good sense of humour!”

Floyd is among the many employees with a long Calgary Stampede history under their belt; his dedication to the Stampede family and passion for our western heritage is another great example of how We’re Greatest Together.