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‘Pent up demand’: Calgary Stampede returns with parade, spectators and no limits


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CALGARY — The rides are going up, concession stands are waiting, stuffed animals are displayed at games tables and the Calgary Stampede is raring to go Friday in its first return to full capacity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 10-day celebration of cowboy life was cancelled for the first time in its 112-year history in 2020.

It was back last year with a scaled-down version that included rapid COVID tests being required to enter some tents, a limit on how many people could be at Stampede Park and physical distancing guidelines.

In addition, the popular chuckwagon races were cancelled and the parade was held on the Stampede grounds with no spectators allowed.

That’s not the case this year.

“Stampede is back. It’s been a tough couple of years for all of us, so you can feel the vibe around here and we’re looking forward to the excitement,” said Steve McDonough, the Stampede’s president and chairman of the board.

“Everything is back to what you know and love, but it’s even better. We’ve taken all the learnings from last year and we’ve redesigned the Calgary Stampede for the future — it’s ready to go.”

McDonough said the event isn’t about to throw caution to the wind after COVID-19. He said there will still be hand sanitation stations throughout the park, there will be places people can go to avoid the crowds and masks are optional for people who might be a little bit nervous.

“Last year people were very, very cautious. I don’t think we’re going to break any attendance records. Last year it was at about 532,000 people,” he said.

“If we come up to the million I’ll be extremely happy.”

McDonough is relieved that the limited Stampede went ahead last year at a time when public events were unheard of.

“We’re still going to be shaking the rust off and if we didn’t have the 2021 Calgary Stampede it would have been that much more difficult,” he said.

“We were the first major group and gathering in Canada. Our protocols were used by every other sport and fair gatherings across Canada.”

Scooter (Greg) Korek, vice-president of client services for North American Midway Entertainment, will be making his 45th appearance at the Stampede.

Growing up in Calgary ,he joined the midway group as a teen. He said the return of regular fairs has been spectacular and began in Miami in March. It was most recently in Manitoba.

“I think there’s some pent-up demand out there in the community and some of these fairs, in Manitoba, hadn’t played since 2019 and we had a spectacular run and I don’t expect anything less here at the Stampede,” said Korek, who’s 62.

“We’re kind of putting the pandemic behind us and getting on with some fun.”

North American Midway Entertainment was forced to quarantine for two weeks last year before being allowed to set up shop in Calgary.

Korek said the layout of the midway will be slightly different this year to accommodate the expansion going on throughout the park. He said there are three new rides this year including the largest travelling ferris wheel in Canada

The Calgary Stampede runs from Friday to July 17.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Police looking for these 3 suspects after Super 8 Motel in Innisfail robbed early Monday morning

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Innisfail RCMP investigate robbery

Innisfail Ala. – On May 29, 2023, at approximately 4:10 a.m., the Super 8 motel in Innisfail was the victim of an armed robbery. Three male suspects entered the hotel, two of which had firearms.  Money was demanded from the manager. All three left the motel in a vehicle which is described as:

  • Chevrolet Dura Max truck
  • Sliver
  • Lifted

The suspects are described as:

Suspect #1: Caucasian male, tall and muscular. Wearing jeans and a grey Under Armour hoody. He was carrying a pistol.

Suspect #2: Caucasian male,  short.  Wearing all black. He was carrying a sawed off shotgun

Suspect #3: Caucasian male tall with a chubby belly. He was wearing a grey hoody, jeans and a black ball hat.

If you have information about this incident, please call the Innisfail RCMP at 403-227-3341 or call your local police. If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), by internet, or by SMS (check your local Crime Stoppers for instructions).

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‘Tragic accident’ blamed for recent death of giraffe at Calgary Zoo

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The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo says a “tragic accident” led to the recent death of an adult Masai giraffe. A statement from the zoo says the female giraffe named Emara died May 19 after tangling one of her horns on a cable surrounding her enclosure. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo-Sergei Belskey


The Calgary Zoo says a “tragic accident” led to the recent death of one of its adult Masai giraffes.

A statement from the zoo says a female giraffe named Emara died May 19 after tangling one of her horns in a cable surrounding her enclosure.

The statement says a necropsy revealed Emara fell against the enclosure fence and died almost instantly of a broken neck.

Emara, who had just turned 12, came to Calgary from the San Diego Zoo in 2016.

The statement says she was a treasured member at the zoo and was known for her cautious yet curious personality and gentle nature.

The zoo says it is checking fencing within its African Savannah Yard enclosure to see if changes are needed to better protect the other giraffes and animals that share the space.

Doug Whiteside, interim associate director of animal care and welfare at the zoo, said Emara was in her prime and was in excellent health when she died.

“Major life changes such as this not only affect our people but can affect our animal residents as well,” Whiteside said in the statement Monday.

He said the zoo’s remaining giraffes, Nabo and Moshi, are doing well.

Grief counsellors are being made available to Emara’s caregivers and other zoo staff.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2023.

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