Tuesday, March 27, 2017 marks this year’s International Pancake Day, a day of celebration where people across the globe flip flapjacks with copious amounts of butter and maple syrup at the ready. As delightful as pancakes are for any meal of any day throughout the year, Calgarians know that nothing says Stampede time more than those magical mornings in July where one can indulge in a multitude of Stampede-themed pancake breakfasts. As a much cherished tradition, companies, families and organizations of all kinds partake in offering up their own special take on the pancake breakfast. Community members have the ability to peruse the breadth of Calgary each morning during the 10 days in search of a fun, free and tasty pancake breakfast! So adored are these breakfasts that the pancake and the Stampede are held together closely in people’s hearts.
Yes, it was the wettest ten days I can remember in my 30+ years of volunteering (and in fact I now hear it was the rainiest 10 days since 1927), but definitely a lot of bright spots and great memories from the 2016 Stampede:
1. Pre-Stampede, on Wednesday, July 6 and Thursday, July 7, I was very busy with large and in some cases record crowds at the CBC Breakfast, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Parade, Tourism Calgary First Flip, the Field Law and Miles Davison LLP parties and Parade committee kick off BBQ. No question from those events that the city was very much looking forward to celebrating Stampede this year.
2. Parade Day is always special and I never take for granted the thrill of being on horseback riding along the downtown parade route in front of hundreds of thousands of cheering spectators. Parade Marshals PB&J (Paul Brandt and Jann Arden) were great ambassadors for Calgary and the walking entry of about 100 representatives from the various Fort McMurray agencies involved with the emergency first response, re-location and re-settlement of that city received a huge and well deserved show of appreciation.
3. The Stampede Rodeo was great all week (even during the downpour on Finals Sunday, which I would argue just made it that much more challenging and exciting). Barrel Racer Mary Burger became an instant Stampede hit during the first go around and then continued to win over hearts and fans by pulling in the big prize on Sunday. Getting to award announcer Ron MacLean his own bronze for his 25 years of involvement with the Stampede Rodeo was also a very special moment for me.
4. More often than not, the GMC Rangeland Derby and Evening Show faced the wettest moments of each day. The track held up magnificently and kudos to all the drivers for night after night of exciting and safe racing. The TransAlta Grandstand Show was one of the best I can recall and was designed in such a manner that “the show could go on” each night notwithstanding the weather. Great job by Dave Pierce, the Grandstand committee and all others involved in producing and putting on this show.
5. The Stampede is a great place to see, meet and host people and that includes politicians from all levels of Government. His Worship Mayor Nenshi rode in the Parade and then to his credit attended every community event in the city, or so it seemed. Premier Notley also rode in the Parade and she and many of her cabinet and MLAs attended many Stampede events on Stampede Park. We even had Justin Trudeau and his daughter Ella-Grace on Stampede Park for a few hours on Friday, July 15 (though as you can see from the attached below, even our Prime Minister was not spared the rain). 6. Beautiful Enmax Park and the new home of Indian Village was a hit with our guests and one can only imagine how popular that area of Stampede Park will become in future years with better weather. 7. The main Midway attractions (Dog Bowl, Peking Acrobats and Bell Adrenaline Ranch) all received deservedly rave reviews. The Agriculture programming was also outstanding and saw big crowds for Cowboy Up, Stock Dogs, Heavy Horse Pull, Steer Classic and all the exhibits in Agrium Western Event Centre, such as the Cattle Trail and many others.
8. By far the most enjoyable moments for me throughout the ten days was hand out the President’s Certificate of Appreciation to surprised long term Stampede volunteers all over Stampede Park. Such a privilege to honour so many deserving people who have given so much to Stampede and to their respective committees. Many thanks to Jennifer Jenson and Shane Ellis for taking care of all the logistics and making this work with my crazy busy Stampede schedule.
Thanks to all of you for what you do for Stampede. Hope all the employees and volunteers of the Calgary Stampede have a great and relaxing (and warm and dry) rest of the summer. You all deserve that. Bill
Spending 12 of their 225 travel days per year at the Calgary Stampede, the Express Clydesdale team couldn’t be happier. “We love Calgary! We absolutely love it here,” exclaimed Michael Honhner of the Express Hitch team, from Oklahoma. The Express Clydesdales came to the Stampede this year to participate in the Heavy Horse Show, where they won Best in Show last year, and while they’re here they will also act as the feature hitch during the GMC Rangeland Derby. Their first Stampede award of 2016 came at the Stampede Parade, where the team was awarded Best Heavy Horse 6 and 8 Horse Hitch Commercially owned.
The Calgary Stampede Band of Outriders was formed in 1991 and is known for sharing their musical version of western hospitality to local crowds and thousands of Calgary visitors every day during the 10-day Stampede. Andrea Khoury, an Outriders alumna and founding member of the band, wrote this poem to celebrate the Outriders’ 25th anniversary. Enjoy!
There are strange things done in the name of fun by the geeks who toil in the band.
The Stampede trails have the oddest tales that have traveled throughout the land.
The midway lights have seen great sights but the greatest they ever did see
Was the group that was formed, out of old drums and horns, by people like you and me.
Now old Bobby E was from Calgary, where the marching bands twirl and blow.
Why he left his room at the school to groom new musicians we’ll never know.
He started with Round-up, then moved on to Showband with Stetsons to follow in time
And by ninety-one, Mr. Eklund not done, it was time for a new band to shine.
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.
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
When Karen Monaghan, catering supervisor, and William Kwong, executive sous chef, heard about opportunities to contribute to the Ronald McDonald House Charities Southern Alberta they decided to put their western hospitality skills to the test. They rounded up other employees to help cook for the families through the “Home for Dinner” program (which also includes breakfast, brunch and lunch).
The Ronald McDonald House in Calgary provides a home away from home for out-of-town families with sick children receiving medical attention in the Calgary Children’s Hospital. More than 18,000 families have stayed at the House since it opened and it is one of 14 homes across Canada and one of more than 300 Houses worldwide. Continue reading
Disability Employment Awareness month (DEAM) was established to spotlight the positive outcomes of hiring persons with disabilities in Canada.
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
On September 26 and 27, come get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the Calgary Stampede’s most unique areas. The Stampede tour was among Doors Open YYC’s most popular last year, and we are thrilled to be participating once again. This year, check out the Young Canadians’ costumes, enjoy the view from the Eye in the Sky, get an up-close look at the chutes, and new this year, tour the Infield suites.
A tradition born from centennial celebrations, Community Round Up is as close as you can get to experiencing Stampede time before July! Each year, rain or shine, the Calgary Stampede brings the best it has to offer–everything from music, roping, riding and cooking– to throw the biggest block party you can imagine.
On Saturday, June 6, Stampede volunteer committees: Community Projects & Development committee, along side, Blacksmith, Caravan, Chuckwagon, Downtown Attractions, Draft Horse Town, Historical, Promotion, Indian Events, Next Generation, Rodeo, Stampede Band and Western Showcase committees brought the hootenanny to the north east quadrant of the city. Continue reading
At the sixth annual Disaster Alley, the Calgary Stampede, alongside more than 40 emergency response agencies and Calgary’s Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), educated hundreds of families on how to prepare for emergencies.
Calgarians had the chance to pass through exhibitors, climb onto fire trucks and watch the STARS Air Ambulance on Saturday, May 9 at McMahon Stadium– attendees were able to have a behind the scenes look at how local emergency crews do when disasters strike in the city.
Kurt Kadatz, director of community engagement & communications, and myself were present to speak about the Stampede’s flood recovery initiatives and how the 2013 Southern Alberta Floods impacted our organization.
We spoke to many families today about the Stampede’s “second century”– how in under two weeks we were able to rebuild this essential community gathering place with the support of the community. Continue reading
The Calgary Stampede is pleased to honour Mike Ross and Peter Valentine with the special designation of becoming Stampede Life Members.