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.
Jake Reinhart is a steer wrestler from Highmore in South Dakota. He competed at the 100th Calgary Stampede Rodeo yesterday and turned in a 4.6 second run. Enough to put him in the day money and move him closer to the finals on the last day of Stampede.
He also ran a nice line to keep the steer on course for Wade Sumpter (wrestling in the image above) who placed one spot ahead of Jake with a 4.4 second finish good for $2500.
Day one at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo was fantastic. A number of really great rides on the bulls and the horses throughout the afternoon. The ropers had a bit of trouble, several cowboys missed with the rope. But the wrestlers threw themselves at the steers with high enthusiasm. All the events were exciting, I’m looking forward to the rest of the competition.
Here, Dean Gorsuch from Gering, Nebraska hits the brakes sliding to a stop with the cow on his way to winning the day’s event in a time of 3.8 seconds.
(Please click on the image to open a higher resolution image in a new window)
Only 67 days to the start of the 100th Calgary Stampede. With this year being the centennial anniversary for the Stampede, the rodeo, and all of the events in general, should be fantastic. I have a lot of fun as a spectator, a fan and a photographer at the rodeo. Great action and amazing performances by the animals and the athletes. I’m already getting excited about getting down to the grounds and covering the Stampede again this year.
These images are from the past couple of years and include a selection of my favourites. You can click on this link or any of the images to go to the full gallery.
I will be displaying a couple of prints in the Western Showcase again this year and am planning to shoot the rodeo for the third straight year. I hope to add a few to this collection this year.
Sunday was the last day of the Calgary Stampede. The final event at the grandstand was the Rangeland Derby where the chuckwagon teams who had successfully vied for a place in the last heat ran for the $100,000 first place prize. The final four drivers were Kelly Sutherland, Reg Johnstone, Jerry Bremner and Kurt Bensmiller based on their record over the previous nine days of racing.
Kelly Sutherland is the king in the world of chucks. Last year he surpassed legendary driver Dick Cosgrave for most wins at the Calgary Stampede with 11. This year, he came out of the barrel turns clean and held on to the lead tightly all the way down the stretch.
Lined up for the race here is the calm but crowded start to the final.
(I’m still not sure if this slow shutter, zoomed focal length image works or not but thought I’d include it anyways).
Coming out of the barrel turns, Sutherland was tight on the rail and even with Reg Johnstone. He pulled away through over the open track and beat the Bashaw Flash (Johnstone) by just over a second.
Kelly Sutherland’s thumbs up is a trademark move and with the success he’s earned, the Stampede crowd has seen it many times. Here Kelly celebrates the win with the grandstand crowd.
And here are some more images from the Sunday evening heats that preceded the final.
Jason Glass guides his team around the barrel on his way to winning Heat 1.
Another of Jason Glass showing the intensity that has carried him to a very successful career – including 3 world champion chuckwagon titles .
The horses of Ray Mitsuing and Hugh Sinclair in a flurry of motion as these two lead wagons race free of the barrel turns and out onto the racetrack.
One of the outriders pulls his horse towards the starting line for the next race.
Devin Mitsuing rounds the one barrel during the demonstration race before the heats start. The announcer narrates the race to help spectators new to the sport understand the rules and some of the nuances of chuckwagon racing.
The last image in this post is of Troy Dorchester as he rides by the crowd during the cool down trot following the race.
This year’s showdown final was great fun and was a fitting way to close out the Stampede sporting events just ahead of the last Grandstand Show and the fireworks display. I am already looking forward to next year.
This is a visual story detailing one cowboy’s 8 second battle with a horse named Buck Wheat on Thursday afternoon at the Calgary Stampede.
The cowboy’s name is Matt Lait and he hails from just north of Calgary in Balzac, Alberta. He rode the beast for full time and scored in the middle of the pack on the day. However, the expressions by both the man and the horse throughout the ride made for an entertaining series. Matt’s face displays how demanding this event is on concentration and how punishing it is on the human body. Click on each to see a frozen moment within that 8 second ride.
I spent the afternoon back at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo on Sunday. Some great rides across all events matched with fine weather made for a great afternoon. The rain came with a fury later during the chuck wagon races but left us alone for the rodeo.
As is the custom all of the day’s competitors come out at the beginning to tip their hats to the crowd and stand for the national anthem.
Here one of the mares, Lush Margie, launches Jim Berry of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta on a short-lived flight.
Wade Sumpter of Fowler, Colorado leaps on a mini bull before trying to wrestle it to the ground.
Leaping out of the chute like a beast on a mission, Broken Lady gave Ryan Gray of Petersburg, Texas a pretty entertaining ride.
Joe Gunderson of Agar, South Dakota pulls free of his ride, Kalispell Whiskey, as the horse runs along the rails sending the cowboys up the rails to get out of the way.
Kelly Timberman of Mills, Wyoming in the middle of a good test with Jay Bar Nine.
A break in the action for the Red and White
Clint Cooper leaps while his horse stands on the brakes during the tie-down roping event.
Mid-flight after being flung well clear of the saddle during the saddle bronc event.
Lane Stuckey of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta competing in the novice saddle bronc event gets bucked off Tough Alloy.
Cory Hines from Rocky Rapids, Alberta as he and Super Nest leap out of the gate during the novice saddle bronc event shortly before parting ways as seen below.
I had a full day along the rails down at the Stampede yesterday. Here are a few photographs I liked from the quick scan of the wagon load I took yesterday.
The rodeo is a great event and I’m amazed by the performances of both the athletes and the animals. Huge helpings of strength, balance and sheer will on both sides. And, a lot of fun to watch.
I’m just heading down for today’s rodeo, can’t wait to get back down there.
With the regular excitement leading up to Stampede amplified by the attendance of the young royals during their honeymoon tour across Canada, Calgary is in great spirits right now. The Stampede Parade this morning kicks off the crazy ten day party. Rick Hansen is the Parade Marshal which is an inspiring choice. Canada’s Man In Motion will no doubt add more fuel to the fire in the city.
As the Stampede gets closer, more people start to don their Western attire and businesses deck their store fronts (and walls, alleys, staff, windows, etc.) with fanciful cowboy characters, horses and chuckwagons (mostly artwork but there are living embodiments if you go to the right bar or corporate lobby). One of my favourite decorations is this cowboy that Canadian Pacific Railway perches on top of their black locomotive that is set along 9th Avenue in front of their offices in the Gulf Canada Square building on 4th street.
This year I have a few framed prints showcased at the Western Photo Gallery which is one of the five areas of the Western Art Show at the Stampede. I was there for an opening party on Wednesday night and the artwork on display was incredible. Some of the paintings and sculptures are truly incredible. If you visit the Western Showcase in Halls D and E in the BMO Centre at the Stampede Park you will have a great opportunity to see the work of some incredible artists – and a couple of nice photographs too!
I have been accredited to photograph the rodeo and the chuckwagon races for the second time this year. Thank you to Dwayne Zaba and Roy Anstey at Bragg About the Creek magazine for your sponsorship. I can’t wait to get on the rail to watch these events – I didn’t grow up competing but had a number of cousins who did so I appreciate the level that both the animals and the people perform at during the Stampede. I’m sure I will be posting a few images over the next couple of weeks.
If you are in Calgary and make it to the Stampede this year, I hope you have a great time. If you aren’t, try to visit sometime down the road, I don’t argue with their slogan, “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”.
This storm front came marching down out of the Rockies past Canmore and swept out on to the Prairie on Friday. We have had a number of these big storms over the summer which has afforded a few really great landscape photographic opportunities.
I made this image while stopped on the Springbank overpass on the Trans Canada highway west of Calgary where the road climbs up towards the mountains.
I mentioned Dan Pichette’s photographs in my previous Midway post. He and I went down to the grounds together and had a great time wandering around. He’s a fine photographer and I really love the focus he has put on individual subjects in many of these photos. His images with the fireworks playing in the midway scene are fantastic.
I’m glad to get out with Dan whenever we can, it’s always a lot of fun.
Thanks for sharing Dan – great set!
This year the Stampede started its 10 day run with a lot of cold, wet weather. I made it down to the grounds with my good friend Dan Pichette on the Thursday before the big final weekend. We picked a good night as it was warm, there was a great sky in the evening and the grounds were busy but not packed.
We brought the tripods for the purpose of playing with long exposures on the lights of the rides, games and kiosks around the fairgrounds. Here is some of the work I came home with. Dan made some dynamite images and I’m bugging him to let me throw a couple of his images up here too. Not yet, but maybe soon.
I always have a lot of fun at the Stampede whether it’s watching the rodeo, checking out the art exhibit, listening the outdoor concerts or roaming the fair.
When I’m down there with a camera, I have yet to not get inspired by all of the commotion and excitement.
On Sunday afternoon, I was down at the Calgary Stampede photographing the rodeo finals.
Thanks to a conversation with the media accreditation manager at the Stampede along with a call to, and a letter from, Roy Anstey, I was able to get media credentials for the event. Roy is the editor of the Bragg About the Creek magazine that I have been working with for a few issues now. Armed with the media pass, I was able to tour the stocks before the rodeo started where the animals were waiting to march into the fray.
When the rodeo got underway, the events came shotgun style as the cowboys and cowgirls competed to get into the final round. The action was incredible and I have to say no one takes a bigger beating in sports than the bull and bareback riders.
Fred Whitfield as he jumps off his horse to pick up the calf and time it up. Whitfield, a Texan from Hockley, tied Matt Shiozawa in the final with a 7.4 second run. They rode one more time to determine the winner with Shiozawa taking this hotly contested tie down roping event.
Jim Berry from Rocky Mountain House, AB riding Knife Money in the qualifying round. Berry placed 3rd overall.
Lindsay Sears riding hard for the finish line. The Nanton, Alberta barrel racer finished 2nd with a 17.31 second ride, missing 1st by 0.06 seconds!
After a couple of hours of hard riding, the finals were set for what the announcer billed as the “Richest Hour in Rodeo”. As each winner of the saddle bronc, barrel racing, bareback, bullriding, steer wrestling and tie down roping takes home $100,000. Second nabs $25,000 with third at $15,000 and fourth walking (or limping) away with $10,000 . The crowd was roaring, thunder clouds were looming off to the south and the animals were fired up. When the men and women started performing the energy in the whole place exploded. Every event was close and they kept coming with only a short break for the winner before the next group got started. It might have been a bit longer than an hour when it was all over but it felt like five minutes.
Boxholm, Iowa’s Wade Sundell rode Lynx Mountain for a 90.50 in the qualifier. Here Sundell is just out of the gate riding Mata Fact to an 88.50 and title in the championship round of the Saddle Bronc event.
Savannah Reeves of Dublin, Texas posted consecutive rides of 17.25 seconds to win the Barrel Racing event. She beat Lindsay Sears whose home she was staying at during the Stampede – nice house guest 🙂
Here Duncan Douglas “dismounts” from Wranglers Deja Vue after completing 8 seconds astride the beast. Douglas, hailing from Alvin, Texas, won the Bull Riding event by one point over Beau Hill with an 88.0 on this ride.
What a great event! I will be going to some of the local, feeder rodeos around Southern Alberta through the summer and I can’t wait for next year’s Stampede. I had a great time working at this event and can’t believe how much fun it is shooting from the rails.