A Calgary Stampede Legend

My name is Tim Campbell and I write to you today about a Legend.  His name is Clarke Smith. Clarke has worked at the Calgary Stampede for 44 years as manager of the Coca Cola Stage.  Can you imagine the things Clarke has seen, heard and done in all those years?!  Truly - it would be amazing to get into his head and retrace the journey.  I think if you were to sit with Clarke, he would be pleased to share most of his stories!

But what is most remarkable about Clarke is that he is an everyday Legend the other 355 days of his life, to his family and friends.  His life on Vancouver Island, in Victoria, revolves around his wife Bonnie, who he has loved longer than his involvement with the Calgary Stampede, his two beautiful daughters, Jodie and Jolene and their families and his lifelong friends who are his extended family.  His commitment to these people is so strong and he enriches and contributes immensely to life our life with him.  Clarke's other love is his garden!  If he cannot be found with one of the family, you can find him in the greenhouse.  The time Clarke spends cultivating and caring for his plants and garden, I think, is the same as cultivating the lives of the people who mean so much him!   I often wonder if Clarke learned to care so much about people as a result of his seeing the results of his love of gardening and plants or vice versa!!

The Calgary Stampede is so much part of Clarke's life.  Every spring, like the awakening of his sprouting seeds, there is a noticeable change in the wind as the Stampede comes to life once again and announcements are released about the summer line up on the Coca Cola stage.  Clarke's step is lighter and his smile bigger.  His excitement is barely containable as he looks forward to seeing Calgary again.  There are defining moments in Clarke's year - from playing Santa at Christmas, spring plantings, Bonnie, Jodie and Jolene's birthdays, his anniversary - to name a few!  But the biggest one is the Calgary Stampede.  Having known Clarke since 1985, I have had the honor of seeing this transformation and have felt the fever that goes into his contribution to making the Legend of the Calgary Stampede!  In fact, the energy and excitement of the 10 days of the Stampede carry into the next 6 or more months for Clarke.  Upon his return from the Stampede, Clarke is so full of life, he can hardly contain himself.  Recounting the successes, fun, who's who and what's what, carry Clarke through the long winter until he can start preparing once again for the 10 days of the Stampede!

And this year, the Legend continues for Clarke and the Calgary Stampede!

Clarke has talked for years about the 100th anniversary of the Stampede!  When Clarke retired from his teaching career, he wanted to fully retire and spend all his time gardening and being with his family - especially the grand children.  But the Stampede was too enticing.  He loved it so much!  Seeing and being at the Calgary Stampede Centennial would be the fulfillment of a dream.

Like the Calgary Stampede, Clarke is a Legend.  Clarke's immeasurable contribution to the lives of those who meet and know him, attests to his spirit, commitment and person.  Clarke is the embodiment of the core values of the Calgary Stampede and an example of an exceptional man.

It has been my pleasure sharing my story of a legend with you.  The Calgary Stampede has so much to celebrate in 2012!  I thought I would add one more story!

Enjoy the days ahead!  Have a greatest time at the Greatest Show on Earth!

I have attached a picture of Clarke from the birthday card I made him last year for his 66th birthday!  (I must confess I did a cut and paste from a Calgary Stampede poster)  The photo is of Clarke singing with one of the bands on the Coca Cola stage one year!!  Yes, he sings too!


Tim Campbell