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Optimism growing that Calgary Stampede and rodeos will go ahead this summer

Last Updated May 14, 2021 at 11:01 am MDT

Teams compete in a chuckwagon race at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Monday, July 12, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout expanding and Premier Jason Kenney claiming this could be the best summer ever, there is hope the Calgary Stampede and other Alberta rodeos can get back up and running.

The Stampede is planning on making sure the event can go ahead this year and adapting to public health guidelines.

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One part major of it, the midway rides, are so far expected to be there. Scooter Koruk with North American Midway Entertainment says Calgary is the next stop after a number of U.S. locations.

“We plan to cross the border in mid-June, we’re going to isolate for two weeks, quarantine ourselves for two weeks and then come to the Calgary Stampede. We’re really excited,” Koruk said.

He adds they are working on getting visas approved and any official word from different levels of government.

“Everything is so up in the air because people are planning their events and we’re just waiting on approval from governments,” Koruk said.

For the smaller rodeos around the province, Barb Poulson with the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association says things continue to change and they will have had to adjust.

“For rodeo to be sustainable — even pandemic notwithstanding — we have to keep changing with the times. And we have to look at the positives, I mean we all know coming through this pandemic you can get down in the doldrums and be negative because there’s lots of challenges,” Poulson said.

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And once one domino falls, she hopes it can lead to approval of other events.

“The Stampede is something people look to almost as a bit of a benchmark and if they’re able to go ahead, I think that will add more optimism yet that some of the smaller events can go ahead as well,” Poulson said.

But they are working with health officials to make sure things are planned the right way.

Poulson adds they weren’t associated with the rodeo in Bowden that broke multiple public health guidelines and hopes that event doesn’t hinder their approval.

“We’re all super focused on working with Alberta Health Services, as we have been for over a year, trying to get protocol in place and get education out and work with committees to move forward and get events going,” she said.

Kristina Barnes with the Calgary Stampede says that once things are officially confirmed, the grounds will look a little different.

“Expect fewer people, more space, and familiar Stampede experiences that look different,” she said. “It’s tough to say right now, exactly at this time, what that may look like, and our planning and activity will need to continue to flex and adapt based on the guidelines of Alberta Health and the evolving situation.”

The Calgary Stampede is scheduled to take place July 9-18.