Volunteers serve thousands at Calgary’s largest Stampede Breakfast

Volunteers serve thousands at Calgary’s largest Stampede Breakfast
WATCH ABOVE: On day two of the official start to the Calgary Stampede -- more than 40,000 people lined up for pancakes Saturday morning. It was the 56th annual Chinook Centre Stampede Breakfast, the biggest Stampede breakfast in the city. Carolyn Kury de Castillo has more on the generations of people who have been volunteering and eating at the event.

When you make pancakes for 40,000 hungry people, you don’t mess around.

Just ask the retired Calgary firefighters who have been volunteering at the Chinook Stampede Breakfast for three decades.

They’ve upgraded from two small mixers to a food grade concrete mixer and hose.

“We had little small bags of pancake mix and we had to add eggs and oil and that stuff. Having the pre-mixed pancake and the big mixer really helps out a lot,” Joe Deiure, who’s volunteered the past 20 years, said.

Now there’s another generation of Calgary firefighters helping at the Chinook breakfast and for one volunteer, it wasn’t trial by fire but by batter.

WATCH BELOW: Flapjacks are a favorite fuel for a full day of stampeding. One of the most popular places to fill up is at the annual Chinook Stampede Breakfast, and one volunteer got more batter than he bargained.

Volunteer gets covered in pancake batter at Stampede Breakfast
Volunteer gets covered in pancake batter at Stampede Breakfast

“I knew it was going to happen. It’s an initiation thing. It’s his first year, he’s a rookie,” Sue Deiure, a volunteer, said.

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Things went off without a hitch and thousands of guests at the mall enjoyed their pancakes.

Some made the breakfast part of their holiday to Calgary.

“I have heard of Stampede but this is the first time I’ve actually attended it. It’s amazing, I’ve taken pictures. This is a very exciting adventure – never seen anything like it,” Jocelyn Chruszczek said.

Others are Chinook breakfast veterans, undeterred by long lines.

“It’s tradition for my kids. When the kids were small, they always came here and we kept going even though my kids are adults now. We still come here with my family and friends,” May Cayanan said.

Big names in Canadian country music entertained the crowd, joined by former Global Calgary personality and CFAC radio personality Jimmy Hughes, who hosted his first Chinook Centre breakfast back in 1969.

“We used to be in a little stage just down at the other end and much smaller, but now you have the big huge stage and Beverly Mahood on stage. International country stars – it’s really a fun event,” Hughes said.

The event is also a fundraiser. This year, $20,000 was raised by the businesses taking part and all of it goes to the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

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“Times are tough and we are just so grateful that partners like Chinook and the community still rally around the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Kids still get sick and they need this facility,” Saifa Koonar, with the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, said.

One million dollars has been donated to the children’s hospital through the Chinook Stampede Breakfast over the past 20 years.