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'A punch in the gut for us all': 2020 Calgary Stampede cancelled

Last Updated Apr 24, 2020 at 6:05 am MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – For the first time in its history, the Calgary Stampede has been cancelled.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fate of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth has been up in the air.

Organizers confirmed on Thursday that in 2020, the show will not go on.

Stampede President and Chairman of the Board Dana Peers said it is not viable due to restrictions on mass gatherings and a concern for public safety.

“It is very difficult to be here today,” Peers said, “it’s hard but it is the right thing to do.”

WATCH: Calgary Stampede Officials providing an update

The first Calgary Stampede took place in 1912 and became an annual event starting in 1923. Since then, the Stampede has never missed a year, managing to continue through major events like the Great Depression, the Second World War, and the 2013 floods.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it is hard to process such a cancellation, even after so many other things have been called off, but agreed the Stampede made the right decision.

“This is a punch in the gut for us all,” he said.

The economic impact is hard to fully quantify, although we do know the Stampede generates in excess of $540 million per year for the provincial economy, and over $700 for the national economy.

The Stampede also did not have any insurance to mitigate the costs of such an unlikely event, and there may be further costs associated with cancelling contracts.

Peers said those details will continue to be worked out in the coming days and weeks.

“This is not a decision that we made lightly. We continue to think about the future, however, and to think about what’s ahead of us,” he added.

“We’re cancelling the largest magnet for travel and tourism in the city,” said Nenshi.

“We are getting walloped economically, both as a government and as a community, in ways that are probably harder than most other places in the world.”

Last month, the Stampede was forced to lay off about 800 employees because of the pandemic.

RELATED: 2020 Calgary Expo officially cancelled

The Calgary Folk Music Festival was also called off on Thursday, joining a list of many other major events that will not be going on as scheduled in 2020.

Meantime, organizers of Edmonton’s premier summer event, K-Days, have been forced to cancel the event due to the coronavirus.

There is still some positivity and hope that the city will emerge victorious after the pandemic, much like the recovery that followed the 2013 floods.

Peers said they will soon start to look ahead to 2021 and if they can hold the Stampede next summer, and is hopeful it can mark a celebration that we have risen up from one of the toughest crises to impact the city, province, country and whole world.

“We will all, I hope, come through this together and be stronger in the future,” Peers said.

“I promise you, this does not mean the end of Stampede spirit this year or the years to come.”

“The rodeo will come back, the rides will come back, the music will come back,” added Nenshi, “and what will never, ever, ever go away is our community spirit.”