The Calgary Stampede – Behind the Scenes

A public relations perspective on event planning:

While most Calgarians are busy during Stampede attending the rodeo, chuck wagon races, pancake breakfasts, BBQs, and many other social events, they don’t often think about the work that goes into planning these important events.

During Stampede 2011, I had the opportunity to both plan, and attend various events. Planning a Stampede event allowed me to appreciate the time, energy, and effort that is spent to help make Calgary such an amazing place to be during this exciting time of year.

The city buzzes with a palpable energy during July which is unmistakable. This energy is fuelled by the busy event-planners coming together to make it all happen!

For example, Brookline organized the “Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si Do” sculpture event on behalf of the Calgary Stampede. To the guests, this was a simple, yet exciting Stampede luncheon welcoming eight epic horse sculptures to their new home at the courthouse park in downtown Calgary.

However, leading up to the event, behind the scenes at Brookline, there was a wealth of planning and execution with many different elements, stakeholders, resources, and of course an obsession with checking the Farmers’ Almanac for the weather forecast!

Being part of the team for this event made me truly appreciate various other Stampede events I attended. On Saturday, July 9th, I had the opportunity to attend Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Annual Stampede BBQ at Heritage Park. The event, with over 500 attendees, was extremely well planned and executed.

There are hundreds of great events taking place during Stampede. From an event planning perspective, it’s fascinating to consider all the time, patience, and resources dedicated to making Calgary’s soon to be 100 year old tradition an annual success.

Event Planning Quick Tips:

  1. Always have a stocked event planning kit on site complete with items such as scissors, tape, paper, pens, highlighters, a small first aid kit, clipboards etc.
  2. Always arrive several hours in advance of your event to try and avoid last-minute running around. Also consider arranging an event site visits prior to your event date to inspect the area, plan, walk around, and get a sense of the logistic of your event day.
  3. If you are hosting an outdoor event and are hoping for nice weather, always have a tent booked and other equipment such as ponchos or umbrellas on hand for guests. You can’t control the weather, but you can control how much guests enjoy your event.
  4. For formal events, be sure that guests, media, and VIPs are personally greeted.
  5. Keep a close eye on your budget. Always build in a reasonable contingency for the unexpected.
  6. Keep calm and carry on. Even if things are hectic behind the scenes don’t let on to your client or guests. If you can hold it together, your event will often appear flawless to guests, even if there are some internal glitches – there always are!


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