The July 10th Virtual Stampede Breakfast was proof that Community Spirit isn’t cancelled. Kristina Barnes, Manager of Communications and Media Relations with the Calgary Stampede took us behind the curtain to talk about how the Stampede adjusted to adapt to COVID-19. She walked us through the timeline from the realization they would have to cancel the Stampede to how they managed massive layoffs and built a series of pop-up events that involved their volunteers and the community to ensure the Stampede spirit stayed alive and well.
Kristina shared with us the story of Filipe Masetti Leite, the Parade Marshal for the parade that wasn’t. Filipe ended up being the poster boy for hope and determination when Calgarians – and the Stampede – needed it desperately. His story was one that filled hearts and provided a ray of sunshine through COVID clouds.
As she spoke about the BMO Kids Day pancake breakfast, Kristina recounted the reminder she got that Stampede is not about the pancakes. Worried that the 30,000 visitors would be frustrated by waiting in a ½ hour or longer lineup to be served, Kristina wandered through the line. As she met people along the way, and saw them drive up to get their pancakes, she saw the joy, the smiles and the excitement at every window – parents, kids, grandparents – all happy to have the chance to experience Stampede, even if it was different than usual. At that moment, she realized “it’s not about the pancakes”. It’s about the feeling, the shared experience and the community connection that Stampede brings.
To co-opt the phrase the Stampede has been using, we will ride again, and when we do, our community will be stronger for it.