Look Back: Calgary Stampede 2011


Ten days of Calgary Stampede and One Year of Great Memories

Calgary Stampede Parade 2011 by Anna Webber
Calgary Stampede Parade 2011
by Anna Webber

“We’re reasonably happy with how things have gone,” said chief veterinarian Greg Evans. And he isn’t the only one. 1,174,697 visitors, including Prince William and his new bride, Kate, left the Stampede believing that it deserves its reputation of “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.”

Great Attendance

Mike Casey, the Stampede president, said Canadian visitors were up 9 per cent and international tourists were up by just under 3 per cent. “It’s been a great year and I’ve been very thrilled to be part of it. I think we’ve proven again that when this community of Calgary gets together, we do amazing things,” said Casey. Will and Kate were not the only special guests of the Stampede. Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared at the Oakridge Community Association pancake breakfast and then he was joined by Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Danielle Smith, Wildrose Alliance Leader, and Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ted Morton. Visitors enjoyed concerts by Kenney Chesney, Sugarland, Katy Perry, Alyssa Reid, NKOTBSB, New Kids On The Block & Backstreet Boys, and many more.

William and Kate at the Stampede

Indian Village by Anna Webber
Indian Village by Anna Webber

The royal couple’s visit drew attention to the Stampede from around the world. Their 24-hour visit included an arrival ceremony, a tour of a hospital ward, a Stampede kickoff parade appearance, a visit to the zoo, and a royal sendoff with full military honours. “We were honoured to see when they showed up at the BMO Centre that they had the cowboy hats. They embraced Stampede and western values and heritage,” said Jennifer Booth, a spokeswoman for the Stampede. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge won Calgarians hearts, and if Calgarians had any say over it, Canada’s next King would be William. According to some commentators, William and Kate could eclipse even Diana’s popularity.

Fitness to Complete

Fitness to Complete is the Stampede’s new animal care program. All horses were inspected by veterinarians when the animals arrived at the Stampede and before and after each race, and when they competed in the GMC Rangeland Derby, they had microchips to monitor their medical and race histories. Horses had one full day off out of every four, and the number of outriders was reduced from four to two. In spite of these measures, two horses had to be euthanized after accidents during the chuck wagon races, which are considered as the most dangerous. Officials are satisfied and said it appears the changes have had a positive impact. Last year, six animals died.
“We’ve seen a decrease in the number of deaths, so the changes might have made a difference,” added Desiree Arsenault, spokeswoman for the Calgary Humane Society. “That said, there is always room for improvement.”

Three Winners and One the Greatest

Calgary Stampede Parade 1 2011 by Anna Webber
Calgary Stampede Parade 2011
by Anna Webber

Kelly Sutherland, 59-year-old Grande Prairie cowboy, won the 12th Stampede title. “The King Won’t be Dethroned,” posted the Calgary Herald when Sutherland again won the GMC Rangeland Derby. “For me, it’s such an emotional roller-coaster,” he said. “I just get so much confidence coming in here. I just feel there’s no doubt I’m going to make the finals and if all things work out, I’m going to win it.”

Kylie Bullen won this year’s Calgary Stampede Lotteries Dream Home after drawing her name from the “world’s biggest draw drum.” The price of her new 2,308-square-foot, two-storey home is about $724,950, not including furniture.

Straws Milan, 24-year-old steer wrestler, won the loudest cheers when he won $100,000 in the steer-wrestling finals.

However, the greatest winners were the Stampede’s organizers who managed to attract more than a million guests and international journalists and got by with the relatively silent protests of animal welfare organizations.

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