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Stampede spirit forging ahead in Calgary despite COVID-19

A Calgary family poses for a Stampede themed "Porch-rait" amid COVID-19 physical distancing policies.
A Calgary family poses for a Stampede themed "Porch-rait" amid COVID-19 physical distancing policies.

There will be no rodeo, midway or parade in Calgary this year due to ongoing coronavirus safety measures, but the Stampede spirit remains strong in the hearts of many across the city.

Carla Crews and Curtis Burkevitch have never missed a Stampede as long as they’ve called the city home.

“I can’t think of a year where I haven’t done something, so it’s unusual that it’s not going on,” said Crews.

READ MORE: Globe-galloping cowboy Filipe Masseti-Leite rides into Calgary after 8-year journey

So, when local photographers began offering free front porch Stampede photo sessions, the couple signed up right away.  Family Porchraits has already captured dozens of western-themed family snapshots and plans to keep going all summer long.

“We wanted to celebrate it some way, so the thought was, we can bring Stampede to homes across Calgary with our team of photographers,” said Aaron Kerr, the company’s owner.

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Last year, the Grace Presbyterian Church in the city’s southwest hosted a Stampede Breakfast for more than 800 people. This year, the church has opted for a virtual party instead.

READ MORE: Calgary Stampede to host 2 firework displays in July despite cancellation of 2020 event

“We thought let’s offer something online that people could join in and still feel that sense of community and connection,” said Pastor Jacob Van Pernis.

The festivities are set to include line dancing lessons and a pancake flip video chain. Van Pernis has even tried his hand at making Tiktoks.

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The Stampede itself has a number of physically-distanced events on offer, from fireworks to food.

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“Just a little taste of Stampede being offered through the pancake drive-thrus, the mini donut drive-thrus and the food truck rally,” said Kristina Barnes, communications and media relations manager for the Calgary Stampede.

READ MORE: Calgary Stampede announces 10 days of grab-and-go food events in July

For the die-hard fan, it’s a far cry from the full Stampede experience, but in a year where nothing is normal, Stampede 2020 will certainly be a year that no one forgets.