My children and I went down to the Calgary Stampede on Friday for a day on the grounds. We ended up staying for 10 hours and they spent most of that riding, sliding, dropping, stopping and flying around, over, through and across the midway.
We rode on the Skyride which takes you over the middle of the fairgrounds and affords a great view and an opportunity to map out the order of rides, games and food.
It was hot, by Calgary standards – around 32°C, so the misting and water stations were important oasis stops for us throughout the day.
One of those water bottle refill spots was in the Agrium building. The cool air and really interesting agricultural kiosks and interactive centres kept the kids interested and allowed us to lose some heat! Kezia loved feeding the chickens in particular while Kian enjoyed watching the day old chicks waddle around their pen.
Ice cream after lunch and slushies in the afternoon were necessary – at least to us!
But, this was a day of rides and we did that with very few other breaks. It was the first time the kids have come down to the Stampede and I am really happy that they loved it. I’ve always had a lot of fun down here – on the midway, at the rodeo, watching the chuckwagons and the grandstand show, etc. I’m excited to share more of the fun that the Stampede has to offer with them.
They hit the Euro Slide early in the day and later in the afternoon. The sun was behind them for the afternoon rides which allowed for a cool look by over-exposing the shots. I definitely had a lot of fun playing while photographing these cool cats!
The Outlaw Roller Coaster was one of Kian’s two favourite rides. He made a couple of runs solo on that after going with his sister the first time. He didn’t mind having the front seat all to himself – and it worked well for the photographs too! My favourite is the riding philosopher as he finished his last ride on this one.
And then there was the Starship 4000! It was the consensus favourite and they both rode it A LOT. Kian went 13 times and Kezia rode 16 times – in a row! Dad was a bystander while they racked up their circular miles inside the spaceship. It spun around pasting the riders against the wall but still allowing them to move around a bit. I didn’t go on this one but I have been told by both kids it was AWESOME!
We didn’t even get into the games that line the midway alongside the rides. Kian definitely liked this pink monkey so he’s looking forward to trying for one of them next year.
We finished the day off with a couple of flights on the hang gliding ride called the Cliff Hanger. I liked flying like Superman – the kids did that and enjoyed making faces and having a blast as they spun around.
A great day at the Stampede – we’ll be back next year!
The Barrel Racing on the first day of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo was exciting as it always is. The speed the women turn their horses through the course is awesome. I think there should be more women’s events at the Stampede but I’m happy there is at least this one to showcase just how great the cowgirls are!
I was fortunate to be able to join a great group in the infield for the first day of the 2017 Calgary Stampede Rodeo (thanks Todd!). It’s been a couple of years since I had a good opportunity to photograph down there. Our seats were at the top of the infield which afforded a great view from above the chutes. The bareback event was foreshadowed by the novice bareback riders and they had exciting rides. Below, Lane Ferguson from Granum, Alberta rode Xotic Departure to the day win in the novice bareback event.
A little while later, the professional bareback riding got started. Caleb Bennett and Up Ur Alley put up an 85.50 on the first ride.
Cole Goodine on Soap Bubbles went the full time as well but fell a little short of Caleb’s opening mark.
I’m always amazed watching both the cowboys and the horses – balance, power and speed on both sides of the contest. All are world class and they did more than their share to help the Stampede to live up to its name as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
Richie Champion astride Twin Cherry won the Day 1 money with a score of 89.00. The first image in this set shows Richie set up well on the horse during the winning ride. Below, the pair explode out of their gate – setting the tone for a great ride.
I started this year’s Calgary Stampede with an afternoon at the rodeo with two good friends. We were part of a larger band of harmless troublemakers so the party started before and continued after the rodeo was over. Photography wasn’t my focus on this visit to the grounds but I did have some good opportunities from the seats in the infield right above the chutes.
It was great to see the cowgirls, cowboys and all of the animals in action. Judging by the capacity crowd and all of their happy faces, I wasn’t alone. Happy Stampede!
July 12th was the final day of the 2015 Calgary Stampede and I had an invitation from good friends to join them for the Chuckwagon Finals and the Grandstand Show Finale that evening. I jumped at the chance and enjoyed a great night down on the grounds.
The Chucks were exciting as usual with the best races coming in the last couple of heats. This year’s champion was Kurt Bensmiller who successfully defended his title from last year in a great race, particularly down the stretch. Bensmiller was riding on the Tsuu T’ina wagon, whose land we live on, so I was happy for them as well! Above is my shot of him closing in on the finish line.
Another great race was heat 5 where Mark Sutherland pulled away from a tight grouping with all four teams and won by just under a second.
Earlier in the evening, we walked down the midway, checking out the rides, the people and the crazy games. I like riding these big swings with my kids and with the sun behind it made for a cool picture.
After the races, the Grandstand Show was up and this year’s edition was called the Canadian Classic. I thought it was great fun. I was sitting above a group visiting from Ohio and, judging by their enthusiasm during and after the performance, it was well received by friends from afar as well.
The fireworks are a signature piece that ends each show. The set on the last day were far and away the largest of the Stampede I was told by a friend who had seen several of them this year. They were huge, loud and beautiful. From our seats on the second deck, we weren’t too far below the average explosion height so they felt all-encompassing which is great when it comes to fireworks in my mind.
The Western Showcase is an art show held annually during the Calgary Stampede. The showcase is held in two of the halls in the BMO Centre and has artwork from a wide range of mediums on display. The paintings and sculptures often hold me mesmerized for hours at a time when I’m down there.
The Western Photo Gallery is part of the Showcase and this is my third year participating. This year I have five images on display and available for sale. The images selected by the jury are the photographs in this post)
The Western Photo Gallery is a great venue to get your name out and to have the opportunity to sell prints to a large audience. I’m always excited to be involved. If you have a chance to visit, there are a lot of great western themed images.
One image that had particularly strong feedback last year (and also sold well) was of harnesses and other tack used in the Calgary Stampede. For three years I was covering the Stampede Rodeo for a magazine and had press access. During the 2011 Stampede, on one of my walks behind the chutes, I noticed this gear hanging off of one of the posts. It is a symbol of the Stampede that seems to work for people.
(please click on an image to load a higher resolution version)
The finals of the Calgary Stampede’s Centennial Rodeo were a wet, muddy affair this afternoon. It was awesome! The last event was the Bull Riding Final. Earlier in the day, the rain and mud seemed to work in the bull’s favour and of the ten cowboys that qualified for last day, only three of the four places in the final four were filled. The other men were bucked off and did not get a shot at the $100,000. In the final, luck stayed with the bulls and all three riders were thrown. That meant another round of rides but adrenaline took over and you wouldn’t have known that these guys were each on their third bull of the day! Shane Proctor, the 2011 Stampede Champion from Mooresville, North Carolina, got started and hung on from the side of the bull for the last two seconds to make full-time and earned a score of 66.50. With the wet conditions and the ferocity of the animals, no one ruled out that as the winning ride even though the cowboy himself would have liked more.
Next up was Aaron Roy from Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan. He rode beautifully aboard Risky Remedy and scored an 86.0. He had great control and it was a ride worthy of a champion.
The final ride, barring a tie, was Chad Besplug riding on Kish This. When the gate swung open, they came out like a huge whirling dervish.
Mud flying, cow jumping and spinning while the cowboy stayed balanced and rode out the madness.
Chad won the battle and remained firmly in place past the horn. He did end up getting thrown and went flying in the air a couple of seconds after time.
However, you have to get off a bull somehow and as long as you don’t get hurt doing it then it’s a good dismount.
The crowd knew it was a great ride but it was not clear where his score would land. Later, when he was being interviewed he said neither him or Aaron Roy were sure who won. They had a minute to share a couple of words while the judges confirmed the score and shook hands agreeing that either one was deserving. The score was an 87.0 and Chad Besplug earned the title of Calgary Stampede Bull Riding Champion for 2012.
The three rodeo clowns, who practice their craft of keeping the bull riders safe exceptionally well, were the first to congratulate the winner.
Then, as he crossed the infield, they tackled him into the muddy bog created by the rain that had just ended. That was almost as much fun as the winning ride itself.
Congratulations Chad – well-earned and it is fantastic to have a Canadian champion on the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede!
Saturday was the last chance for competitors in the rodeo events to qualify for finals. A lot of fun watching these athletes (people and animals) perform. I’m heading down to the Stampede for the finals now but wanted to share some of the moments from the day of wildcards.
Sunday’s Finals should be the exclamation mark to end a great rodeo over the past 10 days. Good luck to all the competitors!
Lindsay Sears is a local barrel racer from Nanton, Alberta. She won the Barrel Racing event at the 2008 Calgary Stampede as well as being a two-time Barrel Racing World Champion (2008 and 2011). The crowd went crazy when she raced today and it was well deserved. She is the best in the sport right now and is rightfully the hometown favourite.
She has been getting faster with each day through the qualifiers at the 100th Calgary Stampede Rodeo this year. She won the Thursday Group B qualifier, with a time of 17.62 seconds. She is currently tied for 4th place in Group B with the last qualifier on Friday. I would expect she will keep getting faster and should earn her spot in the Sunday finals without rolling the dice in the Wildcard Saturday event. When the finals are run on the 15th, her track record would suggest it might be foolish to bet against her walking away the centennial champion. I can’t wait for that race – good luck Lindsay!
Bradley Harter had a good ride at the rodeo on Thursday. The Loranger, Louisiana native was riding Spring Planting and the pairing earned a score of 81.50. Which was good for fourth place on the day’s Saddle Bronc event.
I really like this cowboy’s riding style – nice straight lines due to great balance in the saddle and on the stirrups. I’m hoping he can turn in a score in the high 80’s and qualify for the Finals on Sunday directly. If not, he’ll be fighting for one of two wildcard spots up for grabs on Saturday. Good luck Bradley!
The rodeo down at the Calgary Stampede today was great today. It was Day One for the Group B competitors and it seemed obvious that they were ready to get started.
Here, Cody Cassidy has just left a perfectly comfortable horse to dive onto the back of a slightly ornery cow. The Donalda, Alberta cowboy did a great job with this ride pulling the steer down in 4.5 seconds which was good for second place on the day.
Blake Knowles, from Heppner, Oregon, digs boots into the dirt as he drags the steer to a stop.
Clint Cannon had a wild ride on Coal Black with the horse winning today’s round. It was a good Bareback event matchup and I would like to see Clint turn in some good scores and get into the final.
In the same event, Jake Vold drew Witch Doctor. The horse lived up to its name and was a tricky ride. One that the Bareback rider from Ponoka, Alberta was up to the challenge for. Together, the pairing won the day with an 86.0 ride.
Savannah Reeves, a perennial contender from Cross Plains, Texas who won the 2010 Ladies Barrel Racing event rounds the first barrel during her run.
I can’t wait for the weekend. The performances have already been great and I am excited about what we will see for the finals.
Chet Johnson from Douglas, Wyoming had a spirited ride on Alley Lights on Friday during the first day.
He was bucked off just before time. With the heavy downpour adding to the atmosphere, I thought the horse and the cowboy put on a great performance.