Calgary Stampede still facing cancellation

The Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo, exhibition, and festival held every July in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The ten-day event, which bills itself as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, attracts over one million visitors per year and features one of the world’s largest rodeos, a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuckwagon racing, and First Nations exhibitions.

No decision has been made on whether the Calgary Stampede, set to take place July 3-10, will be cancelled, or possibly delayed this year. Organizers, however, recently stated that postponing it to late July is ‘not viable’.

Pull the plug already

Rick Bell, writing for the Calgary Sun states:

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After all this stay at home and don’t go near people stuff, why hasn’t the Calgary Stampede done the inevitable and pulled the plug? Instead, the Stampede says they ‘continue to be paused’ until they get ‘further direction’ from the authorities. When asked, the premier tells us he’s not going to ‘improvise direction to the Stampede or other events’. So far there isn’t any further direction. The Stampede still holds the reins.

Global News reported six days ago that “Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the government will have an update for summer festivals like the Calgary Stampede soon.”

We believe this is the reason why everyone is so hesitant and no one wants to appear to be the decision maker in this. “A loss this year — even a delay — would cost a lot of money. According to the Stampede board, the event pumps about $400 million into the economy each year,” writes Bill MacFarland of CTV News. “The Stampede hasn’t missed a single year since 1923 despite the Depression, the Second World War and the flood of 2013”, he noted.

Chuckwagon races

The Calgary Stampede rodeo is familiar to horse advocates because of its murderous Chuckwagon races which kill horses year after year as a matter of routine.

“When the Stampede starts, everyone waits with bated breath to see when the first horse will die and this time we had to endure six deaths,” Camille Labchuk with Animal Justice told 660 City News in July last year. “It’s high time that authorities investigate this for illegal animal cruelty and appropriately charge it.”

Labchuk said that more than 100 animals have died at the Stampede since the mid-1980s [when deaths began to be recorded] and believes that authorities are turning a blind eye. She adds that that no rodeo has been prosecuted since the 1950s.

As a side note, the Calgary Stampede, particularly Chuckwagon racing, uses off the track Thoroughbreds.

The show must go on

Bill Macfarlane, investigating for CTV News, reports:

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With an update on this year’s Calgary Stampede expected as soon as Wednesday, one two-time Rangeland Derby Champion says he sees no reason why the show shouldn’t go on.

“The cases are so low I just don’t understand it,” said Luke Tournier, who won chuckwagon racing’s most prestigious prize in 2005 and 2007. “H1N1 was a way higher scarier disease and we didn’t do this kind of procedure.”

The numbers, however, don’t support Tournier’s take. Health Canada reported that in 2009-2010, there were 428 known deaths across Canada due to H1N1 out of 33,509 cases.

As of Tuesday afternoon there were 38,210 COVID-19 cases and 1833 deaths — numbers that disease models predict will get significantly worse over the next three weeks.

“It’s devastating. If Calgary doesn’t go this year, how devastated is the city going to be?” Tournier said. “If I come back next year is anybody going to be able to afford to buy a chuckwagon?”

Other drivers said the cost of maintaining herds of between 30 and 60 horses are high, and so far this year there are no sponsors to help with the bills.

“I don’t know how many of our chuckwagon guys will be able to hang on to their careers without some sort of a season,” said Layne MacGillvary, a driver from the Stettler area. “No business survives with zero income.”

Related Reading


No Stampede this year could force some cowboys to leave rodeo sports, Tuesday’s Horse, 27 Mar 2020


Three more chuckwagon horses killed totalling 6, Tuesday’s Horse, 16 Jul 2019

Kill chuckwagon racing, by Vivian Farrell, Tuesday’s Horse, 14 Jul 2019

Calgary Stampede kills third chuckwagon horse (Video Report), Tuesday’s Horse, 13 Jul 2019

Calgary Stampede chuckwagon race kills second horse, Tuesday’s Horse, 12 Jul 2019


Calgary Stampede’s Chuckwagon Race, a half-mile of hell says Chuckwagon Association, Tuesday’s Horse, 14 Jul 2015

See all Rodeo Horses posts, Tuesday’s Horse »


Cut the Shit, Calgary: Ban Chuckwagon Racing, VICE Magazine online, by Cameron Read, 13 Jul 2012

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