Happy National Volunteer Week to our dedicated and passionate volunteers!

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At the centre of the Calgary Stampede you’ll find the heartbeat of our organization – our dedicated and passionate volunteers. And while they may come from different walks of life, backgrounds and professions, together they collectively share their love and commitment for creating a year-round gathering place for the community.

National Volunteer Week is April 23 – 29 and the theme this year is Canada 150. At the Stampede we celebrate the unique gifts of each of our volunteers and the ways they strengthen our surrounding communities.

“There are no words to express how valuable our volunteers are to Stampede. They make unique things happen every day that you can’t find anywhere else. They are the best!” says David Sibbald, president & chairman of the board.

Our volunteers donate more than their time; they also lend their talents in the areas of event management, leadership, relationship building, commitment to building our youth programs and welcoming new comers to our city.

Simply put, without the dedication and support of our 2,300 volunteers, we couldn’t do what we do. They share our vision and understand that we are about so much more than our 10-day festival.

Here are just a few of the reasons we love our volunteers:

  1. Passion – they are passionate about the committees they are a part of and the work they do.
  2. Commitment – it’s their middle name! They commit their time and hard work to all that the Stampede does, both during Stampede time and throughout the year. Many of them lead busy lives, but they still make time for us!
  3. Shared values and the belief that “We’re Greatest Together!” – Not only do they live the Stampede values of western hospitality, commitment to community and integrity of pride and place, but they believe in them whole-heartedly. They forge important relationships with community partners and work closely with employees to make sure our initiatives are supported.
  4. Talent – our volunteers are talented professionals and leaders in their communities. From lawyers to accountants, they are diverse individuals.
  5. They’ve got heart – they truly want to make our city a better place by engaging the community and being a good neighbour.

Happy National Volunteer Week to all of our wonderful volunteers. The Stampede appreciates each and every one of you for your generous contributions and support!

Introducing Calgary Stampede’s newest board members

On March 21, 2017, the Calgary Stampede’s shareholders elected three new directors to the Stampede board: Elizabeth Burke-Gaffney, Dave Lantz and Stuart O’Connor. The board further approved the appointments of three additional directors: Lesley Conway, Greg Kwong and Cindy Provost. The biographies for all of these new directors can be found below.

The Stampede’s board is currently comprised of 20 shareholder-elected directors, four government-appointed directors and five board-approved externally-appointed directors. The externally-appointed directors from the larger Calgary community provide the board with supplementary expertise from specific business sectors that are key to supporting the strength of the Stampede’s leadership in light of the organization’s Master Plan and Strategic Plan initiatives and developments.

David Sibbald, president & chairman of the board, commented on the newly appointed board members, saying ”Lesley, Greg and Cindy will bring tremendous expertise to the board as we move forward with plans to expand the BMO Convention Centre and our youth education platform. They are leaders in Calgary and lend to the Stampede a broader perspective and representation from our community.”

Warren Connell, chief executive officer, added “These individuals understand where the Stampede is going and are passionate about helping us get there.”

The Stampede congratulates the six new directors on their elections and appointments and looks forward to the support of their leadership as the organization drives toward furthering its vision to create a world-class year-round gathering place for the community.

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An ode to the pancake: One Calgary Stampede committee and their pancake breakfasts

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.

Fun times flipping flapjacks at Calgary Stampede 2016

Fun times flipping flapjacks at Calgary Stampede 2016

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A Wet and Great Stampede!

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.

David Gray, host of the Eyeopener on CBC Radio (L) interviewing Codey McCurrach, chuckwagon driver (R) at the CBC Breakfast

David Gray, host of the Eyeopener on CBC Radio (L) interviewing Codey McCurrach, chuckwagon driver, (R) at the CBC Breakfast

Pancakes being flipped at the First Flip breakfast hosted by Tourism Calgary

Pancakes being flipped at the First Flip breakfast hosted by Tourism Calgary

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.

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Waving hello atop of Pa – the horse I rode this year from the Stampede Ranch

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.

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Ron with his bronze and 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.

Exciting finish to one of the chuckwagon races

Exciting finish to one of the chuckwagon races

The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede performing in the Grandstand Show incorporating water in the show

The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede performing in the 2016 Grandstand Show incorporating water in the 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). PM visit 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. Photo Credit: Bill Marsh / Calgary Stampede 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.

The Canine Stars at the Dog Bowl

The Canine Stars performed incredible tricks at the Dog Bowl

Heavy Horse Show in the Scotiabank Saddledome

Big crowds came out to watch the Heavy Horse Show in the Scotiabank Saddledome

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.

One of the recipients of the awards - Jill Cross.

One of the recipients of the awards – Jill Cross.

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

Heavy horse hitches at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

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.

Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and CEO and chairman of Express Employment Professionals, holding his team’s Parade entry award

Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and CEO and chairman of Express Employment Professionals, holding his team’s Parade entry award

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An Ode to the Band of Outriders

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.

The Band of Outriders have been entertaining audiences on Stampede park and in the community for 25 years! Yahoo!

The Band of Outriders have been entertaining audiences on Stampede park and in the community for 25 years! Yahoo!

 

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.

 

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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

Thanks a brunch, Stampede Food & Beverage team!

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).

Pictured: Brenna, Stampede Concession team and Julia, Stampede front of house serving captain.

Pictured: Brenna, Stampede Concession team and Julia, Stampede front of house serving captain.

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

October is Disability Employment Awareness month

Disability Employment Awareness month (DEAM) was established to spotlight the positive outcomes of hiring persons with disabilities in Canada.

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Pictured: In A DEAM World

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

Doors Open YYC is returning to the Calgary Stampede Grandstand!

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.

Photo Credit: Shaun Robinson / Calgary Stampede

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Lucky Stampede Lotteries Winners announced!

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Prizes for the 2015 Stampede charity lotteries were valued at $1.3 million! Tonight, a lucky group of people became Stampede Champions. Notable prizes up for grabs were a $864,000 dream home, almost a quarter of a million dollars cash, as well as a pickup truck with a boat.

 

This year's Stampede Champions are Paul Allred (Rotary Dream Home), Mike Burnyeat (Truck & Fifth Wheel), Ken Pierson (Truck & Boat), Mike Moore (Truck & Toys), Kevin Willerton (Corvette Stingray), Lal Perera (GMC Yukon), Andrew Pike (Harley-Davidson), Frances Henrickson (Split’em 50/50 - $242,055 Cash), Marty & Gloria Jurgens (Early Bird Winner - 2015 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe 1LT) and Linda & Paul Thomas (VIP Prize Winner - $10,599)

This year’s Stampede Champions are Paul Allred (Rotary Dream Home), Mike Burnyeat (Truck & Fifth Wheel), Ken Pierson (Truck & Boat), Mike Moore (Truck & Toys), Kevin Willerton (Corvette Stingray), Lal Perera (GMC Yukon), Andrew Pike (Harley-Davidson), Frances Henrickson (Split’em 50/50 – $242,055 Cash), Marty & Gloria Jurgens (Early Bird Winner – 2015 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe 1LT) and Linda & Paul Thomas (VIP Prize Winner – $10,599)

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2015 Community Round Up

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.

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It was a beautiful day! More than 2,500 people attended Community Round Up this year and had a blast with us at Pacific Place Mall.

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

2015 Disaster Alley

Pictured: Harry the Horse and Indian Princess Alumni.

Pictured: Harry the Horse and Indian Princess Alumni

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.

Pictured: STARS Ambulance helicopter

Pictured: STARS Ambulance helicopter

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.

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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