The Calgary Stampede, after a final night of equestrian competition and impromptu speeches on Nov. 1, has selected their 2024 Stampede Princess.
Brook Fielding, a University of Calgary graduate with a Bachelor of Commerce, and whom previously was a participant in the Stampede Ranch Girls, Showriders, and Airdrie Pro Rodeo, took home the crown.
She was competing against fellow Calgarians Annie Coward and Téa Di Lillo, who both also had extensive equestrian experience with the Calgary Stampede.
“This is an incredible experience. I’m overwhelmed with emotions,” said Fielding.
“I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness and gratitude, and I have incredibly big shoes to fill with our past outgoing Princess Sarah.”
Fielding will be taking over from 2023’s winner Sarah Lambros, and will be joining 2024 First Nations Princess Margaret Holloway as an ambassador for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
“I really hope that I can bring some of my business background to help educate people more on western culture, and really helping connect with people from all different backgrounds,” said Fielding.
During the final pair of competitions, Fielding wowed judges with her performance on her horse Blue, followed by her speech about how she intends to unite and inspire people through her work as a Calgary Stampede princess and ambassador.
Will Osler, President and Chair of the Calgary Stampede, said he didn’t know how the judges were able to pick from the three candidates, and that the Stampede would have been lucky to have any of the young women represent the organization.
“When when a program like this one can can attract incredible and successful in their own right already candidates to compete for it, and represent the Stampede in the way they do, yeah, that’s that’s that’s gratifying. It’s really heartwarming for us,” Osler said.
Putting the Stampede back in people’s minds
Osler said that both Stampede royalty competitions being held within days of each other was no coincidence. Holloway was crowned on Oct. 29.
“Crowning both the First Nations Princess and the Stampede Princess kind of puts the Stampede back on on some people’s radar,” he said.
“It’s a great way to to renew ourselves, and both programs are so important to us. We’re lucky to have just incredible young women who put their put themselves and their names out there, year after year, to take on these important incredibly important roles.”
The decision to make both roles equals several years ago, said Osler, had been a huge success for the Calgary Stampede. He said it speaks volumes about the direction the Calgary Stampede is taking as an organization.
“They’re equal. They had been for a very long time, and to have them aligned the way they are—even with the the crowning is happening just a few days apart—I think it says something positive and important about the Stampede,” he said.
The 2024 Calgary Stampede being just 257 days away from the competition seems like a long time, he said, but it’s not.
“We’re always planning and there’s so much going on that our management team has been hard at work, really since before Stampede 2023 getting ready for next year,” Osler said.
“It’s going to be fabulous. Like every year, there’s going to be something for everyone, and there’s going to be a lot of familiar things for people but there’s going to be a lot of things they haven’t seen before. I can’t wait.”
Among those things familiar will be the 101st anniversary of both chuckwagon racing and Stampede pancake breakfasts.
The crowning of the 2024 Stampede Princess was also a year since Osler’s announcement as the new President and Chair.
“We all joined to have fun and meet people and that’s what’s kept us around. That’s what I’ve been doing since March. You get to do a lot of fun cool stuff when you’re the president, but there’s a lot of work involved, too, that people don’t see. I’ve loved every minute of it, and it’s too soon to be sad that that I’m almost a year into my two-year reign.”
That, said Osler, was probably also what Fielding was about to experience as well over the next year.
“I was watching her when her name was announced, and you could see someone realize in an instant that their life is about to change, and not just for the next year,” he said.
“It will be an incredible year for her and for Margaret, and, and that’s neat to see. It’s going to be quite a ride, and in a year’s time it’ll be over for them before they know it. But what an experience they’re going to have, and it will be something that they take with them for the rest of their lives.”