100 Years of Stampeding

My grandmother has always loved the Stampede. She went with her parents when she was younger and she took my mother along with her siblings as they grew up. She then started taking me and my siblings, and the eventually her great grandchildren.

My grandmother has experienced four generations of family at the Stampede and this past year was no different.  I took my grandmother on the 2011 Senior's Day. We got there bright and early to ensure a full day was spent on the Park.  We did most everything that we could – saw the Superdogs, the ice show, and visited BMO Centre and the Casino. We also saw the livestock, ate some of the Midway food, and even had time to squeeze in a few Midway games. I consider myself a very lucky individual to be able to spend this type of quality time with my grandmother each year- it gives me memories that I will be able to share with my children and grandchildren as I age.

To experience the Stampede with an individual who has seen it evolve from the beginning is truly special. As it became an annual event the rodeo grew larger, the Midway and Parades began to out-do themselves every year, special guests and artists would come to participate and millions of visitors began to visit the city to experience The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth. She has seen the growth, excitement and passion that has always surrounded the Stampede - the transformation of a bustling city into the wild west with decorations, pancake breakfasts, cowboy hats and country music each year; and loves to experience it to this day.

I learned from my grandmother to experience life to its fullest - to take any opportunity given to me and to explore it.  Through these lessons, I have travelled the world. I have visited over a dozen countries, have lived in Australia, worked aboard cruise ships and am now living in Montreal. Every time I am home in Calgary I spent a great amount of time with my grandmother, cherishing moments that I will not have forever. Learning and laughing with her brings a joy to my life that cannot be expressed in words.  I should also note that every single time I have ever left Calgary, whether for a vacation, or work, or to return home to Montreal, I have told her when I would return and she would always promise to see me then. And she always has; even after battling colon and skin cancer. She is so unbelievably strong and inspiring.

My grandmother, Frances O'Lesky, turned 100 on January 13th 2012.  We held a wonderful party for her, and received letters from the Queen, Prime Minister, Governor General, Premier and Mayor. I plan on taking her to the 2012 Stampede on Senior's day just as we did last year and we both plan on having another fun filled day- knowing that they will both be celebrating a Centennial makes it even more special.

The Calgary Exhibition and Stampede has forever been my favorite ten days out of the year.  I love the atmosphere, the excitement, the passion and the memories that the Stampede creates every year and being able to share all of that with my wonderful 100 year old Grandmother makes it all the better.

I congratulate the Stampede on its 100th anniversary and will most certainly be there with bells, whistles and an excited Grandmother this coming summer.


Sarah Cherewko