Sowing Community Spirit: Benevity, Seedlings and the Stampede!

April showers bring May flowers, right? Then April snow should make seedlings grow! That was the motto on Monday, April 24 when a group of 30 smiling and cheerful neighbours from Benevity came to Stampede Park to grow some great community spirit, despite the cold weather. Bringing 160 Colorado blue spruce seedlings, these benevolent friends from Benevity came to donate some time and trees to the Stampede!

Say “Trees”: Parks & Facility Services share a smile with the Benevity crew and some of the new seedlings

Say “Trees”: Parks & Facility Services share a smile with the Benevity crew and some of the new seedlings

Led by the Stampede’s green-thumbed Parks & Facility Services team, the group divided into planting crews and with tremendous care and affection, planted the seedlings in their new homes. The seedlings were welcomed onto Park and made to feel right at home in the planters located by the Park & Facility Services building.

In their new nursery, the seedlings will be tended to with love and attention by Sandy Mcafee, park maintenance supervisor, and her team for the next two to three years. These initial years are very significant in the life of a new tree and it is important to keep our new seedlings in a safe and happy place before sending them off into the big, open world.

planting 1

Sandy Mcafee from Parks & Facility and April from Benevity make a new home for a seedling

Once the seedlings have grown strong enough, the new trees will be transplanted to other locations across Park. In doing so the trees will also be used in landscaping projects as the Stampede expands buildings and greenspaces.

Four part-time horticulturalists from Benevity share a smile with a baby Colorado blue spruce

Four part-time horticulturalists from Benevity share a smile with a baby Colorado blue spruce

A tremendous thank you to the kind folks from Benevity who share our desire to further environmental initiatives and preservation in our city and beyond!

For more information about what the Calgary Stampede is doing to ensure a positive environmental impact, please visit our website

Stampede Spirit Surrounds Us

So…the Canvas Auction was last night.  Am I still a little bit jazzed this morning?  Maybe…  Ok, definitely.  That is one of those events that signals that Stampede is approaching rather quickly, and we are all super excited about it.  We’ve been up to our eyeballs with Stampede this week, from the AGM to the Canvas Auction, and it reminds me of what a phenomenal organization the Calgary Stampede is.  At the AGM on Monday, we met past royalty, long time volunteers, and people who were attending their first Stampede AGM.  It was amazing to see the array of people who all gathered under the Stampede umbrella, and it really made me proud to be a part of this organization.  They are people who dedicate countless hours all for the love of the Calgary Stampede.  It’s humbling, and reminds me that the worth of something cannot always be quantified.

Volunteering to teach us where to stand for the Canvas Auction

Volunteering to teach us where to stand for the Canvas Auction.



Continuing with the theme of volunteerism, we went to the second annual Marit Cup, a fundraiser put on by Calgary Christian School that was held in memory of Marit McKenzie, an amazing girl who passed away last year.  She was a student at CCS, and was actively involved with the David Foster Foundation during her final year of high school.  She continued to give after her passing, by donating all of her organs and tissues.  Seeing the legacy that was left by Marit made me realize that age has absolutely nothing to do with helping others.  At 18, she was able to do more than most people do in a lifetime.  She gave all that she could, and then some.

With Bruce McKenzie and a teacher from CCA at the Marit Cup

With Bruce McKenzie and a teacher from CCA at the Marit Cup


What I saw Wednesday should not only make her family proud, but her community as well.  Although she was not an official volunteer of the Stampede, what she left behind was the true embodiment of the Stampede spirit; generosity, hard work, and helping your neighbour. It just goes to show that the spirit of Calgary Stampede can be found everywhere, in everyone.  This city, and the people in it continue to amaze me with their depth of character and commitment to community.

The Princess Shootout at the Marit Cup

The Princess Shootout at the Marit Cup
















I am proud to be a Calgarian, and a part of the Calgary Stampede.


The Friendly Faces of Stampede: Volunteer Profile – Christopher Loach

Well, that’s a wrap.  What an awesome 10 days of celebrating 100 years of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!  We couldn’t do it without the hard work and devotion of all of our incredible volunteers and staff.

The number of people that volunteer for the Calgary Stampede is amazing, and so is the diversity of skills that come with them.

I was lucky enough to ask Christopher Loach, Chair of the Communications Sub-Committee for Downtown Attractions, a few questions about his involvement with the Calgary Stampede.

Christopher’s day job dealing with media as the Communications Director at Theatre Calgary made him an excellent fit for this volunteer position.

1)  What year did you become a Stampede volunteer and why did you decide to get involved?

I was fortunate to join the Downtown Attractions Committee (DTA) as a volunteer in 2007.  During Stampede every year I wandered down to Olympic Plaza when it transformed in Fluor Rope Square and took in the festivities.  When I heard the DTA was looking for people with a media relations background for their communications sub-committee, I jumped at the chance and managed to fill the void.

2)  What are one or two of your favorite Stampede memories?

As a native Calgarian, I have never missed a year at the Stampede.  My earliest memories are of the Stampede grounds at night, being pushed in a stroller, looking at all the lights and hearing all the sounds of the midway.  Later in high-school and then University, I worked as an usher in the Grandstand for 7 summers.  I met so many different people from around the world and made life-long friendships with many of the people I worked with.  I’ll never forget those days.

3)  What Stampede experience or event are you looking forward to the most this year?

Our Communications sub-committee works with Stampede Tourism to host local and international media when they come down to Fluor Rope Square. So many of them are visiting Calgary and the Stampede for the first time, and most of them are amazed that we actually do a hat stomp and get away with it.  It’s such an honour and a thrill to see them be truly amazed at all the work that goes into what we do, and then take those observations back and share them around the world.

4)  What’s your favorite midway food?

I’m a bit of a traditionalist, so I’m sticking with mini-doughnuts.  But any good hot dog is a close runner-up.

5)  What’s your best advice for a fun Stampede?

It’s not always about being in the loudest and most crowded tent for a great party.  Sometimes the real treasures, like watching a stock dog competition or visiting the Western Showcase art exhibit can be a rewarding and relaxing experience. Take time to see all the little things you never thought about visiting…you’ll be surprised at how much western pride and history you can take away from them.


If you’re interested in lending your time and skills to the Stampede team, learn more on how to get involved here.

The Friendly Faces of Stampede: Volunteer Profile – Jodi Wilson

Jodi Wilson is the Chair of the Downtown Attractions Entertainment Sub Committee, whose full time job is Legal Counsel at ARC Resources Ltd.  Luckily, her company is very supportive of community minded volunteering, as are so many in Calgary.

They have a lot of fun events at Fluor Rope Square (AKA Olympic Plaza) every morning, but the two that stand out most for Jodi this year are the Lammle’s Hat Stomp on Wed, July 11th for tickets to the sold out Brad Paisley show, as well as the Deric Ruttan concert, which will be at Rope Square on the Friday, July 13th at noon.


1)  What year did you become a Stampede volunteer and why did you decide to get involved? 

I became a volunteer in 2004.  I was given the opportunity to get involved through friends on the Rope Square committee and jumped at the chance!  I’m from small town Saskatchewan so grew up very community minded and loved the cowboy way of life!

2)  What are one or two of your favorite Stampede memories? 

Standing behind the chutes at the Rodeo, going to the barn parties after the Chuck wagon races and answering questions for visitors to our city about what to see and do during Stampede.

3)    What Stampede experience or event are you looking forward to the most this year? 

Tails!  Garth Brooks!

4)    What’s your favorite midway food? 

Corn on the cob.

 5)  What’s your best advice for a fun Stampede? 

Hydrate and pace yourself!


If you have any special memories of volunteering at the Calgary Stampede we’d love to hear them! The Next Generation Committee is collecting your best memories and moments to include in the #TimeCapsule Please email yours to:


For more information on Calgary Stampede volunteer opportunities please click here.

A great big Western Welcome

As you likely know by now, the Calgary Stampede is in the business of sending a warm Western Welcome to everyone – near AND far.

In the days leading up to the Calgary Stampede, and during the 10 days of Stampede itself, Promotion Committee volunteers head out the the arrival gate at the Calgary Airport to greet tourists coming into the city for Stampede.

While there, we hand out information and answer questions. But we also like to have a little fun.

Gary and Larry

Longtime airport band members Gary and Larry play country music hits, pose for photos and get the tourists in the mood for some good times.

Before they hit the sliding doors leading out of customs, visitors will hear the musical stylings of Gary and Larry – two local musicians who have been greeting guests to Calgary for many years.

Of course, their music gets everyone in the mood to dance…

Dancing at the airport

Promotion committee volunteers Donna and Lance try a little two-step

Gary and Larry also make sure to take breaks to pose for photos, chat with the crowd and take requests. They love requests, actually. After playing for almost 12 hours everyday, sometimes they need a request or two to help them come up with new songs to play.

Family poses for a photo at the Calgary Airport

A family grabs some cowboy hats and pose with Gary and Larry for a photo.

In addition to country tunes, visitors are also greeted by volunteers wielding ‘branding irons’ and catch ropes.

Calgary Stampede volunteers waiting for tourists to come out of the arrival doors.

Promotion committee volunteers wait for tourists to come out of the arrival doors.

We get a big kick out of watching the visitors hesitantly walk by the roper. He swings that rope around, acting like he’s going to catch himself a critter. It’s usually not until they pass, thinking that they’re in the clear, that he’ll toss the rope over their head and reign them it. (Don’t worry, he’s gentle!)

Brad getting ready to rope someone

Volunteer roper, Brad, gets ready to make a catch

Getting roped

Expert skills, as I get roped for a photo op.

If you’re at the Calgary Airport, by all means come say ‘hi,’ get a ‘brand’ (stamp) and see if someone will rope you.

To those we’ve met this week, welcome to Calgary and we hope you’ll enjoy your stay!

‘Roped’ into roping

I don’t know what I was expecting when I signed up for a ‘roping’ class offered to Calgary Stampede volunteers. To be honest, I didn’t really give it much thought. I didn’t have much to do that night and another volunteer on the Promotion Committee insisted it would be fun.

This is my first year as a volunteer, but by no means will it be my first Calgary Stampede. Although I’m not a native Albertan, this will be my sixth year enjoying the Calgary Stampede. I’ve been to the rodeo. I’ve seen trick roping competitions and demonstrations. But I didn’t actually think I’d be learning to rope things. Things AND people.

Art untangles his rope and prepares to pass on his roping wisdom.

Sure enough, that’s what we learned. Art and Neville, two of the more experienced ropers on the Promotion Committee, showed us the ropes. Literally. We got to choose from a selection of old catch ropes (not a ‘lasso,’ we learned. Using the term ‘lasso’ is for the most tenderfoot cowboys and cowgirls.) From there, we were taught how to properly hold and handle our ropes as well ask some tricks for making the rope more manageable – the ropes are stiff and tricky to bring back in once thrown out.

Neville shows us how to create perfect loops in our rope.

For the rest of the evening, we got familiar with the rope – we worked on handling and throwing, roping unsuspecting office chairs that didn’t see it coming. At the end of the night we had the option to buy our ropes to take home for practice. And you can bet I did. My goal is to rope some of you critters during the Calgary Stampede parade in July and at Calgary Stampede events coming up this spring and summer. So keep your heads up and watch out.

But first, I need to practice. Lots and lots of practice!

Oh, and one more note – Three months from today is the Calgary Stampede Parade. Get in the spirit this weekend by checking out Aggie Days! Hopefully I’ll see you there!

Farmer Dave comes to the Stampede

Hi there, this is my first entry on the Stampede blog and I thought I should tell you a little about myself.

 I farm close to Calgary, in the Conrich area, and have been mixed farming (livestock and grain farming) for the last 38 years. Some of you may know me as Farmer Dave from another blog I have done for the Calgary Stampede- just one of my many projects as an eight year volunteer with this organization. Some of my previous work has been as chair of the Agriculture Education Committee, and involvement in Aggie Days and Agrium Ag-Tivity in the City – my passion is to educate people about agriculture and its connection to everyday life.

 In my blog entries over the next 10 days I will entertain and educate you with stories from the wonderful world of agriculture at the Calgary Stampede. I hope you will enjoy these snapshots and glimpses into one of the most important industries in Alberta, and I invite you to ask me questions.

 You will find me down at Stampede Park almost everyday…when I’m not haying and spraying. I hope to see you here!

My First Showdown

Last night marked a very special occasion for many Calgary Stampede Volunteers. Showdown is an occasion for all the volunteers to come together to pick up their coveted accreditation pins, enjoy a great dinner provided by Stampede Catering, and take in some awesome entertainment.

As a new volunteer, this was my first Showdown.  I didn’t really know what to expect so I followed in a veteran volunteer (my Dad is on the Chuckwagon Committee). Arriving at the doors I started to feel a little nervous…I don’t know that many other people within the organization just yet- he told me to rest assured as there would be many friendly faces, not to mention my whole Committee.  Within minutes I had found a few fellow members of the Next Generation Committee and off we went to enjoy the evening.

We were hosted in halls D & E at the BMO Centre, which was transformed into a massive gathering place for the organizations volunteers. It takes a lot of organized and a talented folk to put on an event of this magnitude- everything was flawless. There were tables set up by alphabetical order to pick up accreditation, a mini Stampede Store kiosk, a fantastic live band, a fashion show hosted by the Stampede Store showcasing the latest and greatest styles in Western Wear (where the models were Committee Members)…and who could forget the super yummy dinner. I overheard some ladies wishing they could get the secret recipe for those baked beans.

One thing was evident as I looked around the room bustling with energy, we were all so excited to gather together and prepare for the 10-day show. On the front cover of my trusty Trail Guide booklet that included a crash course on everything Calgary Stampede was the following Promise quote similar to those we have all seen popping up all over the city:

We Promise to treat neighbours like family and to gather our family to welcome the world.

How fitting it is. I know we all can’t wait for July 9th, 2010 to arrive. There are only 23 days until Parade Day…Yahoo!

Let us know what your Stampede Promise is on Twitter at @calgarystampede or on Facebook through our official Facebook fan page.