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Communities channel Calgary Stampede spirit into live and virtual events

Communities channel Calgary Stampede spirit into live and virtual events
With the Calgary Stampede not being staged this year, a number residents throughout the city have taken it upon themselves to ensure the Stampede spirit remains alive. Deb Matejicka reports.

Like many in Calgary, Jacqueline Drew looks forward to the Calgary Stampede every year.

So when news broke the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth wouldn’t be staged for the first time in more than 100 years, Drew was understandably upset.

“I felt so sad that the Stampede got cancelled,” said Drew, a musician and co-owner of marketing company Tenato Strategy Inc.

Read more: Stampede spirit forging ahead in Calgary despite COVID-19

Using both her talents as a musician and marketing expert, Drew, along with her husband Gary, got to work in late April.

“When we first started and Stampede was cancelled, we sort of needed something to keep the spirit alive and then I thought, we can’t wait until July to do this, people need it now,” Drew said.

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The pair eventually created Community Stompede — a sort of talent show that sees residents in her neighbourhood of Lake Bonavista show off their talents in parks and driveways on special nights.

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Coronavirus: Calgary Stampede spirit shines despite event’s cancellation

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Community Stompede was up and running by early May with residents jumping on board to donate their time and talent all in the spirit of promoting the kind of community connectedness that the Calgary Stampede inspires.

“It’s completely magic really because you really get to know your neighbours on a whole other level,” Drew said.

Performances at the Stompede are always free and will be showcased each of the 10 nights of what would have been the Stampede.

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“We have every kind of entertainer that we have in the community,” said Drew, who also performs.

“We had one kid put up her own little stuffed animal zoo up on her front yard. We have dancers, we got a line dancing group because a couple of people in Bonavista are members of it so we have all sorts of entertainment and the thing that’s amazing about it is that more and more talents just keep coming to the surface,” she added.

Read more: First-ever Calgary Stampede drive-thru pancake breakfast puts the boots to COVID-19 gloom

Drew added that there is very little to no cost to staging a Community Stompede. She has created a how-to guidebook and has been sharing it with others interested in bringing the Stompede to their own communities.

“It’s creating such community connection here it’s unbelievable,” Drew said, adding they “plan to continue long after Stampede week…or as long as people need it.”

Reverend Jake Van Pernissaid he understands the need for community connection and the big role the Stampede plays in bringing Calgarians together every summer.

“We really wanted to keep that going and so we created a Stampede video that people could participate in,” said Van Pernis, who leads the parish at Grace Presbyterian Church.

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The virtual video party is complete with a line dancing tutorial, pancake making and virtual flajack flipping challenge.

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Calgary Stampede partners with United Way for ‘United Apart’ campaign

During what would normally be Stampede week, the church will also be running a grocery gift card drive on behalf of I Can for Kids, a local charity that supplies meals and snacks to hungry kids throughout the summer months.

“For many people, Stampede is a time when we want to celebrate community and connection, but if you’re hungry, that’s really hard to do,” said Van Pernis adding that Save On Foods will match any donations collected by the drive.

Read more: Businesses reliant on Calgary Stampede suffering this week

Meanwhile, just a few blocks from the church, musician and co-director of The Show, a performing arts company, Scott Henderson created the Stampede themed song, “Return of the Greatest.”

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“I wanted to create something that was upbeat, positive that spoke to how everybody is feeling in the moment but also what we’re all looking forward to and how everything will return and how exciting that will be,” Henderson said.

“The Calgary Stampede is such a huge part of our annual life that I kind of wanted to speak to it and celebrate it and remind people of the fact that it’s all going to come back.”

The “Return of the Greatest” music video has been garnering a lot of attention online racking up thousands of views since its release.

“I’m glad it’s touched a nerve for people that they’re relating to it and they’re getting some optimism from it,” said Henderson.

“A lot of people are like, ‘This is the song we need!'”