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The stampede is on to join the Calgary Stampede Parade

Entries to join the Calgary Stampede Parade are now open, with invitations being extended to community and cultural groups, performance groups, businesses, equine associations, and to international participants.

The Stampede announced on Jan. 26 that the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth was looking for a few more great performances to top off last year’s record-breaking parade.

More than 350,000 people lined the parade route in Downtown Calgary last year, to see 90 floats and 37 pre-parade prelude entertainment and performance groups.

“The Stampede, our western heritage and community involvement has always been about diversity in the community and is a grassroots thing. And we’re looking for more and more entries,” said Jason Balasch, Chair of the Stampede’s Parade Entries Subcommittee.

Balasch said that one of the great things about the parade each year was the number of returning entries, in large part to how positive the experience is for groups.

“They get a ton of exposure, they get their message out there, and they have a ton of fun performing, and we’d really like to broaden our entertainment offering, get more community groups involved.”

The Stampede is also looking to get more local businesses involved this year—for more than just advertising purposes.

“From a business standpoint, it’s not just about the exposure and the publicity and having people on the route see you, it’s the journey for your employees, getting your employees engaged, and really becoming part of something that’s fantastic and part of the Calgary Stampede.”

YYC Princess princesses meet Harvey the Horse during the Calgary Stampede announcement that the organization is looking for entrants for the 2023 Calgary Stampede Parade, at Doherty Hall in Calgary on Thursday, January 26, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Stampede will work with entrants for the best possible parade day experience

Balasch said that while not every group or entrant makes sense for the Stampede parade, the organization will work with entrants to help them formulate the best possible entry.

“We definitely hold it to a standard, both for the main parade and the prelude… the parades are moving events, and those entries have to be moving,” he said.

For groups that are more stationary, and can’t perform and march for the entire distance, the Stampede has prelude performances prior to the start of the parade, which still allows opportunities for groups to showcase their talents.

He said that they have an online entry form that takes 5 to 10 minutes to fill out, and even if the group entering doesn’t have a fully realized plan, the goal is to begin that communication process with the Stampede.

“We will work with you to develop the entry and to help you grow it. We’ve still got 162 days, so there’s time to pull entries together,” Balasch said.

The Stampede is also looking at including more international groups this year, like travelling show bands, that have been absent due to the pandemic.

“There’s a history of international groups in the past, and this year so far the applications which are early that are rolling in, we’ve got a couple international bands, with more talking about 2024,” Balasch said.

“But whether it’s a band, a performance group, or or even a float, we’d love to have out-of-province visitors and really highlight them and let them showcase their message.”

Entries can be made at www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/parade/apply.

SkipTime, Calgary’s first jump rope skip cluib, perform during the the Calgary Stampede announcement that the organization is looking for entrants for the 2023 Calgary Stampede Parade, at Doherty Hall in Calgary on Thursday, January 26, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Revisit last year’s Stampede Parade through the lens of LWC photojournalist Aryn Toombs: Calgary Stampede Parade a big hit with Calgarians.

Much to look forward to for 2023

Steve McDonough, President and Chairman of the Calgary Stampede Board, said that the parade will be the start of a very exciting year for visitors.

“This year, we have so much to look forward to, obviously bringing people together in our community is top of the list, but this year, we also have really exciting things like 100 years of chuckwagon racing—and even maybe even more exciting for some people, 100 years of pancakes—and those things will be celebrated appropriately,” he said.

The parade is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list to see this year, he said.

McDonough said that this year the organization is seeing a pent-up demand to travel to Canada, and to Calgary, and the Stampede is poised to take advantage of that.

“We’re planning on seeing maybe 1.1, 1.2 million people. That’s close to last year’s number, and last year we expect to see about a million people,” he said.

He said that visitors will still see a smaller Stampede Park than in years past, as completion of the BMO Centre Expansion continues, and additional construction work outside of the north park gates on the Stampede Hotel and SAM Centre takes shape.

The Stampede will be opening southern areas of the park which have not been used for several years.

“We were heartened with the numbers of Calgarians and people who came to the Stampede, so we’re doing our best to maximize our footprint with what we have,” McDonough said.

“The park will not be bigger this year, it’ll just be organized in maybe a more efficient manner.”