The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth has met its match in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Calgary Stampede, the annual rodeo, midway and western heritage showcase that draws international visitors to Alberta every year, will not be held in 2020, for the first time since it became annual in 1923.
In an announcement today, Calgary Stampede president Dana Peers said the decision was difficult but made with the health and safety of the public in mind. More than one million visitors typically attend the Stampede every year but demands of social distancing and Calgary’s declaration of a state of emergency related to the pandemic will prevent it all.
That was echoed by Tom Sampson, chief of Calgary’s emergency management agency.
“This is hard, but we need to make these types of decisions right now in order to stay safe and move forward,” he said. “It’s not what anyone wants to see happen but it’s pretty much mandatory at this time, and we applaud the Stampede for putting the safety of all Calgarians and their guests first.”
The Stampede has been held during two world wars and the Great Depression, and even managed to salvage an event after devastating 2013 floods nearly destroyed the Stampede grounds in downtown Calgary.
We are saddened to share that we are unable to host the 2020 Calgary Stampede. While this is difficult, we know it’s the right thing to do.
— Calgary Stampede (@calgarystampede) April 23, 2020
It typically generates millions of dollars for the city in revenue from visitors, hotel stays, restaurants, taxi rides and related shopping. All of those factors have been affected by health protection measures related to the pandemic.
In a news release, the Stampede said it would concentrate on fall, winter and spring events at Stampede Park and plan for the 2021 event.
“I promise you this does not mean the end of Stampede Spirit in our community this year,” said Peers. “We know our community is strong and resilient. We’ll get through this together. Keep your hats on.”