‘One of the best we’ve ever had:’ Calgary Stampede on 2017 success
Much like the rides at the Calgary Stampede grounds that slingshot riders up in the air, 2017 was about rebounding from a dismal year in 2016.
As of Sunday morning, nearly 1.1 million people had taken in the Calgary Stampede. Attendance on Saturday was 136,611, which is up by more than 25,000 people compared to the same day a year before, which saw 109,817 walk through the gate.
“Stampede 2017 in my mind one of the best we’ve ever had,” Calgary Stampede president Dave Sibbald said at a news conference Sunday.
Last year, the rainy weather resulted in a seven per cent drop in attendance from the year before.
Despite offering free admission on the last Sunday, only a total of 1,088,000 people went through the gates in 2016. However, there was a big change this year as the sun stayed out for most of the ten days.
“We are more than thrilled with the attendance. Going into the final day we are sitting at 3,000 less than 1.1 million. That’s a pretty special time given the economic uncertainty and also given the last couple of years of torrential downpours,” said Calgary Stampede CEO Warren Connell.
Some vendors say the increase in sunshine meant increased profits as well. Curtis Heath, who runs the Smoothie Shoppe, said sales were up around 22 per cent from last year.
“Much better. There was so much rain last year. Sales are much better than last year. It’s great and there are lots of people,” Heath said.
New security measures meant longer waits to get into the grounds on busy days as patrons had their bags checked.
“It was fine. Efficient. They were really polite. They just opened my bag and asked the typical questions [like] ‘do you have any weapons with you? Any alcohol?’ That kind of thing, which is normal,” Sam Grant said.
Although some said security could have been more thorough.
“You wonder why they are doing it, if all they’re doing is asking if there is something in there and they open it up and say OK thank you,” Alan Grant said.
CEO Warren Connell said the new security checks are a new reality and they will continue.
“We made adjustments as the Stampede progressed and we will continue to do that. In fact, there is a meeting two days after Stampede to talk about enhancements we can make to speed up the searches and to keep this site safe for the public,” Connell said.
Canada’s 150 celebrations played a role in bumping up numbers, as did the many discount days offered by the Stampede this year and businesses benefited from the greater numbers.
“So you see an increase in an audience that normally couldn’t afford to come down. While they have been on site, people have enjoyed themselves to the point where I can tell you that North American Midway Entertainment is actually running a Canada record for their sales…they are tracking on all time revenue highs,” Connell said.
On Sunday, 117,514 people passed through the gates, compared to 151,695 the year before.
According to the Calgary Stampede, the cumulative attendance for 2017 was 1,214,972 people, compared to 1,088,039 in 2016.
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