Friday, July 8, 2011

The Calgary Stampede

    AKA The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.  The Stampede's roots are traced to 1886 when the Calgary and District Agricultural Society held its first fair.  American promoter Guy Weadick launched his first rodeo in 1912 and returned to Calgary in 1919 to organize the Victory Stampede to honour soldiers returning from World War I.  It became an annual event in 1923 when it merged with the Calgary Industrial Exhibition to create the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.
     For the very first 1923 Rangeland Derby, Stampede founder Guy Weadick convinced a number of working ranches to enter their authentic chuckwagons and roundup crews.  As years passed entries varied dramatically, with fewer than twenty and more than forty wagons competing at the event.  In 1975 the Stampede decided to limit its entries to the top 32 outfits from the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association. This all changed after the CPRA strike of 1979 when members of the Northern Chuckwagon Association and some 'independent' drivers replaced the pros.  In 1982 the Stampede invited the professionals back to compete with the Northern drivers and independents.  Eventually the independents were eliminated and the top 18 drivers from each association automatically qualified for the Stampede.  The Stampede has recently reverted back to its invitational process by inviting the top 12 outfits from the previous year's Derby to join a selection of drivers from the two professional circuits.
     Big Ian could add many details to the above, having served on the Stampede Board for decades.  One thing I mean to ask him next week is when the winner of the "chucks" ceased being determined by setting up camp and watching for smoke emanating from the cookstove.

TODAY'S GOOD NEWS:  Calgary Stampede parade day today, Go Mallory!