Stampede Showband: Calgary's Musical Ambassadors to the World!
July 5-14, 1990 was the first Stampede I ever attended; I was a mere 6 months old. I grew up fortunate enough to have my Mother work full-time in Stampede's Human Resources Department as a recruiter. This meant that I got to attend every Stampede from the year I was born. I remember growing up hearing my Mother and her co-workers, who grew close to my family over the years, preach about Western Heritage. I didn't hesitate to poke fun at their jean skirts and fringed jackets (which were especially tacky, even in the 90s). As my family grew older, my sisters and cousins became old enough to start working at the Stampede for those wonderful 10 days; what a great gig for a 15 year old! I was significantly younger than them so my time to work the 10 days hadn't come yet.
It was 2003 when I woke up at 8:30am to watch the Stampede Parade on TV. I remember very little of this parade except being in absolute "awe" at the sight of a talented band in beautiful red cowboy boots leading the parade. I knew this was the Stampede Showband as I had recalled hearing their drums coming down the Saddledome steps in previous years during the 10 days that had me running from the Karaoke stage to the Dome in order to get a good seat. I was in awe, watching this band march down 9th Avenue as I thought to myself, "I have to be a part of this".
After a lot of research I had discovered that I was yet not old enough to join the Showband, but was encouraged to join the junior band that would eventually work me up into the group of Calgary's musical ambassadors to the world! Without much forethought or even permission from my parents, I signed up to be a member of the Round-up Band (which I had later learned my parents were both members of back when it was under the umbrella of the Calgary Police! Better known then as the Safety Round-up Band). I completed a wonderful year as a member and continued in the cycle in moving up to Stetson Showband for a year. June of 2005, my time had finally arrived when I stood in front of two intimidating Showband staff, nervously holding my alto saxophone and auditioning for people who would dictate my dream of wearing those red boots that had inspired me two years earlier. It wasn't long before I received a letter that informed me of my acceptance to the Calgary Stampede Showband 2005-2006 - Yahoo!!
The Showband became a family to me; a home away from home. The Stampede off-season, became a weekly trip to the Park to rehearse, and during Stampede Week, the Park became my stomping grounds for 17 hours of every day. Being a member of the band means we represent this wonderful organization across the world. I've been a musical representative for Calgary and the Stampede in Germany, Austria, USA, Holland, and England. But no other place compares to playing on the Saddledome steps on home soil for fans who understand our love and appreciation for such a great time of year; it's better than Christmas!
I am currently in my seventh year with the Stampede Showband. I am, sadly, at an age where I can no longer continue in the system, but can make way for a new generation that I get to leave my legacy with. Being the Centennial year, I get to age-out of the band at the peak of my band career and at the peak for the Stampede and Calgary; I wouldn't want it any other way but to commemorate my successes in this wonderful festival with fellow Calgarians in an unforgettable celebration.
My Stampede story started with passion and drive. I've had the most wonderful time developing my story in a group that represents the Stampede famously. And my story will continue to thrive even when I'm a spectator like so many of us are. Thank you Stampede Showband for moulding me into who I am today, and thank you Calgary Stampede for supporting us as your musical ambassadors to the world; you provided me and so many like me, with opportunities that are truly life changing.
We're greatest together,