As rain showers covered the Stampede grounds on its July 11 Canada 150 celebration, patrons were still content with how the park administration handled lineups created in part by an increase in security measures.

To celebrate  Canada’s 150th birthday, the Stampede charged customers only $1.50 for entry until 1:50 p.m. and seniors 65 and older got a free all-day pass. A general admission ticket, for those between the ages of 13 and 64, normally costs $18, and a seniors ticket, 65 and older, is $9.

However, as Calgary experiences extreme shifts in weather from a high of 33 C on Stampede personnel clear puddles around the park as light rain fell for most of the day July 11. Photo by Rosemary De Souzaopening day July 7 to rain showers and a low of 12 C on July 11, the weather could not have been worse for the lineups that accumulate by the BMO Centre behind Victoria Park Stampede station.

Increased security is the new deal with the Calgary Stampede. Security tents are set up right by the near entrance to the park by the LRT station, meaning bag checks are necessary before entering the grounds.

“We know that we are not immune here in Calgary to the dangers we see in the rest of the world,” said events and park services vice president, Jim Laurendeau at a July 4 news conference.

“Severe weather, criminal behaviour and violence around the world over the past year cause us to take a fresh look at our practices and make adjustments.”

People wait in line July 11 under the comfort of their umbrellas and rain coats as they pass through security to get into the park. Photo by Rosemary De Souza

With security officers and Stampede personnel actively securing and guiding the crowd, it took Dakota Alkenbrack around five minutes to get into the park even with the addition of security tents that all Stampeders have to go through.

“I feel a lot safer [having security] there,” said Alkenbrack when reminded of Laurendeau’s statement. “I personally think it’s a good idea cause like I’m worried about it and I’m sure other people are too.”

It took Gaveara Diaz, on the other hand, around half an hour to get into the park. But when asked of her experience waiting in line for that long under the rainy weather, she was quick to say, “Even if it’s raining, you must go [to the Stampede].”

“Everything is secure here so it will be okay for me to spend my time here in Stampede Calgary.”

Last year, the recorded attendance for July 11 amounted to 90,389 people, whereas this year on a rainy day that number jumped to 104,395. This number, however, does not beat the opening day’s record-breaking attendance of 115,235, which is 24,348 attendees higher from last year. Overall, the Calgary Stampede has already recorded a total of 592,431 visits so far.

rdesouza@cjournal.ca

Editor: Ian Tennant | itennant@cjournal.ca