Never Too Late for An Old Dog to Learn Something New
I have been attending the Calgary Stampede for many, many, many years. Once we had kids, we would make the two hour drive every year and camp out Thursday night to get a great seat for the Friday morning parade along 7th Avenue (before the LRT changed the route). We would also make sure to take in the rodeo and chuckwagons, as well as the amazing Grandstand Show every year. We would always buy a souvenir program to help us remember that particular year! Fast forward to 2008, and at the age of 65 years, I found myself without much family left to celebrate the Stampede with. My daughter, who had two Young Canadians performing in the Grandstand show, suggested that I come up to Calgary and spend the entire 10 days working as a volunteer with the Calgary Stampede Program Sales.
Needless to say, coming from a small town in rural Alberta, and spending 10 days at The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth at my age seemed a little daunting. With much encouragement from my daughter, I packed my bags and relocated to Calgary for the entire Stampede that year. Well, you can teach an old dog something new… we would always buy programs but never gave much thought to where the money went, or how the program sales volunteers came to do their job. I would come to work in the morning around 9 a.m. and I would sit and watch the grounds get prepared for their daily events and onslaught of international visitors. It was fascinating to see how many people it takes to make this show run so smoothly!
I would usually leave around midnight that same day after the Grandstand show was over and I had finished my shifts and watched my Granddaughters perform on stage, come rain or shine. Still, as we were leaving, there was an army of people cleaning up and preparing for the next day's activities...all smiling still! It felt wonderful to be a small part of such a great organization! This old dog learned that she still has a lot of life left in her and also learned that the Stampede offers new and exciting things every year even if you have been going for decades!
I met so many wonderful people from around the world while I sold programs, I got to meet many different performers and special guests of the Stampede, and I made many lifelong friends with The Young Canadians, the group that works tirelessly every single year to raise funds for the Youth Programs with the Calgary Stampede. I have been selling programs every year with The Young Canadians ever since. So this year, when you come to the rodeo or chuckwagon and Grandstand shows, buy a program and say Howdy!
(I'm the one in the red jacket, and my three grand-daughters (in the middle) have all been Young Canadians! My daughter is the one in the white shirt!)