Calgary Stampede officials say they pulled off a pandemic success

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Calgary Stampede officials say they pulled off a pandemic success
Calgary Stampede officials are calling the 2021 version a success that has shown the way for other major events coming out of the pandemic. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports. – Jul 18, 2021

Calgary Stampede officials are calling the 2021 version of the event a success “no matter how you measure it.”

Calgary Stampede 2021 will be known for smoky skies and the year it cleared the way to become the first major event to be held in Canada during the pandemic.

Officials are calling the show an achievement based on safety and satisfied guests.

“You stepped up and trusted the Stampede. You asked us to act responsibly. You asked us to put on a great show. You asked us to lead the way and we did,” said president and chairman of the Stampede board Steve McDonough.

“We have done what we said we would do: show the world that we can open our doors to a new and more positive tomorrow.”

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Seventy-three per cent of Nashville North music tent and beer garden guests showed proof of vaccination to get in while the rest chose to rapid test. Out of 60,000 people, 18 tested positive for COVID-19 and were sent home.

“Rodeo competitors safely participated through a modified quarantine program, and Nashville North, with entry requirements never seen before in Canada, drew close to record numbers,” said Calgary Stampede interim CEO Dana Peers.

Click to play video: 'Calgary event planners reflect on 2021 Calgary Stampede'
Calgary event planners reflect on 2021 Calgary Stampede

“Our midweek guest experience surveys have told us that our guests felt comfortable during their visit and confident that the Stampede has done everything we can to keep people safe.”

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Some rodeo fans will also remember it as the year chuckwagon races were not held at the Calgary Stampede.

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The organization said given the lack of racing prior to the Stampede, safety requirements under their “Fitness to Compete” program were not met.

“We had to make some very difficult decisions early on, and we certainly look forward to chuckwagon racing again in 2022,” Peers said.


As expected, attendance was cut in half, with about 50,000 people per day coming to the grounds. Seventy-five per cent were from Calgary, 13 per cent from elsewhere in Alberta and 12 per cent from out of province.

The total attendance for the 2019 Calgary Stampede was 1,275,465.

The Calgary Stampede said Monday its 2021 attendance was 528,998 during the event, which ran from July 8 to 18.

“They always say Calgary is better. I beg to differ as an Edmontonian,” laughed Desiree Greene, who went to Calgary to check out the Stampede on Sunday.

“So far, it’s a little similar. I think it’s a bit more spread out and bigger than K-Days in Edmonton, but I’ve been liking it so far.”

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Calgary Stampede organizers say this year’s event was a success as the greatest outdoor show on earth wrapped up July 18, 2021. Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

Some Calgarians said they went to the Stampede because it was free on Sunday, while others said they went because COVID-19 reined in their travel plans.

“We enjoy the Stampede for the family fun. We usually travel during the summer. That’s why we are here because we’re not travelling now,” said Calgarian Rebecca Dunne.

Stampede officials say they’ll be looking at everything they’ve learned in this challenging year to help put on a bigger and better show next year.

“We have learned to be flexible, and we’ve learned to know that we can react quickly and still be successful,” Peers said.

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Visitors to the Stampede had to cope with an Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) of 10 with wildfire smoke blowing into Calgary, Alta., Sunday, July 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

This year, Stampede workers were required to wear masks while on shift, and entry into the Nashville North music tent and beer garden required proof of vaccination or a negative result from a rapid test. The midway was also redesigned to allow guests to have more space between one another.

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