Calgary Stampede officials put to rest much speculation Thursday and cancelled the 2020 edition of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth amid concerns over coronavirus.
Earlier this week, the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo had cancelled – and they were slated to hold their show at Stampede Park in the days after the Calgary Stampede concluded. The Calgary Stampede was set to go July 3 to 12 this year.
Early Thursday, K-Days in Edmonton also announced their cancellation.
While the city’s public event cancellation was still only in effect until June 30, Mayor Nenshi hinted earlier this week, we may hear more about changes to that date.
In a Thursday afternoon press conference, Calgary Stampede officials said cancelling was the right thing to do.
“As you can imagine, it’s very difficult to be here today to share this announcement,” said the Calgary Stampede president, Dana Peers.
“The cancellation of our annual event comes with our community and public health and safety front of mind.”
Peers said the Calgary Stampede has been around for 108 years, through two world wars and a devastating flood.
“I promise you this does not mean the end of Stampede spirit this year, or in the years to come,” he said.
“When it’s appropriate, we will gather together and celebrate again.”
Annual Calgary Stampede chuckwagon canvas auction cancelled
Many people wondered what took the Calgary Stampede so long to make the announcement.
They’d already cancelled both the annual Calgary Stampede chuckwagon tarp auction and the 35th annual Aggie Days.
“As a gathering place for our community, the Calgary Stampede is committed to supporting the health and safety of our guests as well as the volunteers and employees who support the Stampede’s community programs,” Calgary Stampede CEO, Warren Connell, said March 13.
“We are in very close contact with Alberta Health Services and CEMA and will do our part.”
Peers said that they’d examined a number of different scenarios over the past few weeks and worked with the city’s and province’s emergency management teams.
“It was not a decision that we came by lightly, but it was a decision that is in the best interest of public health and safety, and hence we’ve made that choice,” he said.
The annual event was slated to start just a couple days after the city’s public event ban would have been lifted. Vendors were kept in limbo; as were ticketholders for marquee events like the rodeo, chuckwagons and grandstand show.
Ticketholders for this year’s events will be contacted directly, according to the Calgary Stampede’s FAQ page.
The Calgary floods didn’t stop the 2013 event
When the flooding hit the city in 2013 and put the Calgary Stampede under water, they launched a Hell or High Water campaign that rallied the city and volunteers.
Though flooded June 20, officials were still able to open on time. They were able to clean up and get everything prepped within two weeks for the opening.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he recalled suggesting to Stampede officials during the flood that maybe they do a parade on higher ground or something. They told him they’d make it happen that year.
Mayor Nenshi said he was going to miss his annual horse ride in the opening day parade.
“The Stampede is a critical part of who we are as Calgarians. It’s almost impossible to imagine a summer without it. But these are extraordinary times, and the Stampede has done what they always do: put the community first,” said Mayor Nenshi.
Major economic driver for Calgary
Other events across the city had already made the decision to cancel. None, though, have the history nor economic impact to Calgary that the Stampede does.
“It is important to recognize the many local businesses are part of the greater Stampede from restaurants, bars, hotels, and retailers rideshare and taxi drivers to support Western culture throughout our city,” said Peers.
“We know how much the loss of this year’s event will mean financially for them.”
The iconic Calgary summer event brings tens of thousands of people to the city from across the globe. The cancellation will have a substantial impact on the city’s economy. In December 2019, the Calgary Stampede cited a Conference Board of Canada report that showed the Calgary Stampede’s year-round activities pumped $540 million into the city.
While it’s only 10 days a year, the Calgary Stampede’s July event undoubtedly was a major piece of that amount.