Canvas Auction Numbers Up

In a show of strong community support for the sport of chuckwagon racing, the total auction proceeds this evening are $2,420,500 up $123,000 from 2016. Kelly Sutherland takes home the top bid of the night, $110,000, courtesy of Friends of the King.

“This sport has deep roots in our city and in our country, and tonight’s bidding makes that very clear,” said Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon committee chair Mike Piper, following the auction. “The support pledged to these drivers helps to ensure we will continue to enjoy chuckwagon racing for years to come.”

In total, more than 175 groups and companies registered for the opportunity to advertise with the 36 men who will be competing in the 2017 GMC Rangeland Derby during the Calgary Stampede, July 7-16. The proceeds of tonight’s auction will help those drivers cover the expense of caring for and travelling with their horses, not just during the Calgary Stampede, but throughout the racing season.

In addition to gaining valuable exposure for their brand, successful bidders now have the opportunity to offer clients, employees, friends and family a one-of-a-kind experience in the chuckwagon barn area during the 2017 Calgary Stampede.  For interested parties, a select few of those opportunities may still be possible post-auction by teaming up with successful bidders. More information is available at calgarystampede.com.

  2017 2016
Total Auction Proceeds  $2,420,500 $2,297,500
Average Bid $67,236 $63,819
Top bid driver Kelly Sutherland Kurt Bensmiller
Top bid $110,000 $120,000

2015 Calgary Stampede Poster Artwork Unveiled

Dr. Gordon Atkins, chair, Chuckwagon committee, left, and Bill Gray, vice-chair, Calgary Stampede Board, unveil Stavrowsky's original artwork for the 2015 Calgary Stampede poster. The piece will be auctioned off during the Western Art Auction on Thursday, July 10, 2014.

Dr. Gordon Atkins, chair, Chuckwagon committee, left, and Bill Gray, vice-chair, Calgary Stampede Board, unveil Stavrowsky’s original artwork for the 2015 Calgary Stampede poster. The piece will be auctioned off during the Western Art Auction on Thursday, July 10, 2014.

The 2015 Calgary Stampede poster artwork, created by artist Oleg Stavrowsky, was revealed at the annual Canvas Auction taking place on Thursday, March 20. The annual auction of chuckwagon tarps used for business advertising, proved to be a suitable venue for the chuckwagon-themed painting. The artwork pays homage to the chuckwagon drivers and horses that have been an integral part of the Stampede for the past 91 years.

“This year, I wanted the insert some action into the poster — and nothing speaks of action more than the chuckwagon races,” says Calgary Stampede Vice-Chairman of the board, Bill Gray.

“The chuckwagon races have been a part of the Stampede since 1923 and are one of the most exciting events during the 10-day Stampede. To capture this iconic event, I chose an artist who has a particular talent for bringing his subjects to life.”

Gray commissioned Stavrowsky to create the piece himself, as it is the official duty of the incoming president to choose a potential artist, and Gray will become Calgary Stampede president and chairman of the board in May 2015.

Stavrowsky’s original artwork depicts the thundering chuckwagon races of the Calgary Stampede. The stunning detail in the piece was achieved through Stavrowsky’s three-part process. Initial pencil sketches were completed then he built a wooden “scale model” of wagons for an accurate reference for the painting the figures and horses in the piece are painted from life, real life and real people.

In August of 2013, Stavrowsky was one of the first artists to become a member of the Russell Skull Society of Artists, a new elite group of contemporary western skills.

“Being granted the opportunity to create the artwork for the 2015 Calgary Stampede poster was an honour,” says Stavrowsky. “Western art is my passion; there are so many aspects of western heritage that I could capture. I chose to paint the chuckwagon to represent the spirit and action of the Calgary Stampede.”

The Calgary Stampede has been creating posters for more than 100 years. Although they have now become a collector’s piece, they were originally used as the primary form of promotion for the event.

The 2015 original artwork will be on display at the Western Oasis until it is sold during the Western Art Auction on Thursday, July 10, 2014 in the Palomino Room, BMO Centre. Tickets for the auction can be purchased from the Western Art Sales Desk located in the Western Oasis, BMO Centre.

Glass Bests Track Record

The 2013 GMC Rangeland Derby has been won by Jason Glass. Photograph by: Colleen De Neve, Calgary Herald

With a roaring crowd and thundering hooves the 2013 GMC Rangeland Derby has been won by Jason Glass. Along with bragging rights Jason also took home a cheque for $100,000.

On Saturday night, Glass trimmed a half second off the 1:10.38 mark he set Thursday night with a rail run of 1:09.87 from the No. 1 barrel in the second semifinal and ninth heat of the night. It was the first run under 1:10 of this $1.1 million show.

Jason Glass, Jerry Bremner, Kirk Sutherland and Rick Fraser earned their way into Sunday’s final heat by virtue of their performances in Saturday’s semi-finals. Jason Glass made the most of the opportunity, capturing the title on Sunday night.

This year Jason won both the 2013 Aggregate on Saturday, July 13 and a cheque for $100,000 in tonight’s GMC Rangeland Derby.

Driven by tradition. Guided by experts, the Calgary Stampede invites only the top outfits in North America to compete for 1.5 million in prize money.

– source, Calgary Herald 

Chuckwagon Canvas Auction Tops $3.6 Million

September/October Sneak Peek

Coming soon to your mailbox and newsstand, I’m excited to preview the September/October issue for y’all here.

When I watched seasoned chuckwagon driver Chad Harden’s lead horse collapse and the subsequent pile-up of horses, humans and wheels during a heat of the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby on July 12, my heart leapt to my throat. Reviewing it on film, it was unimaginable the humans escaped injury, but fortunately they did. Three horses however, were lost; the Harden family and his barn subsequently devastated and heartbroken. Those immersed in the chuck racing circuit culture know and understand the level of care and love that goes into these animals, where horses are truly a part of the family.

Chad Harden racing at the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby. Photo by Deanna Buschert.

 Just three nights later on July 15, after the last heat of the races, 40-year veteran driver Grant Profit, sold his entire outfit including horses, during a retirement auction at the same barns Harden’s team had pulled out of three days before. A highlight of the sale was the right and left lead of Profit’s team – Forever Grand and Anglian Prince, a pair of former race horses. The 13-year-old Thoroughbreds sold for a combined $179,000 to another experienced driver, Kelly Sutherland. He later stated he felt the two horses who had been “barned together” for many years should stay together, illustrating the value these horses represent to their owners – not only in monetary means, but emotionally as well.

I spoke with Shelly Profit after the sale and she reiterated their devotion to their animals:

“All of our horses that we sold meant the world to us and we spent hours every day with them. Caring for them, feeding, brushing and training, each one of them have their own personalities and likes and dislikes. Even in the winter we would just go out in the pasture with them and they would all come up to us for a pet on the nose, and most of them loved peppermints and that was their treats. They were truly a part of our family, and we miss them dearly.”

A study on chuckwagon horses during races is currently in progress by a University of Calgary researcher who was on the scene at this year’s Rangeland Derby conducting a series of medical trials on the horses. Deanna Buschert’s piece, Scientific Experiment, reveals how that research may help not only chuckwagon horses, but other equine athletes as well.

Max Gibb is confident of the Balzac racetrack’s future. “It will make us the Woodbine of Western Canada,” he says. “And, it will be a big, big boost for horse racing.” Photo by Jessica Patterson

The remains of a track of another sort stands abandoned in a field northeast of Calgary. The Balzac racetrack was destined to restore and nurture the growth of horse racing in Alberta. Instead it dissolved into a field of unrealized dreams. Writer Jessica Patterson spent a good month researching the timeline of how this dream went down for her story, Field of Dreams. There is a faint hope the track will move forward, though on a much reduced scale and with mini-steps. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

When we came across this photo of Chantal Sutherland in a recent issue of Vanity Fair, we knew we had to include the Ontario born jockey in Jenn Webster’s feature piece, Generation Y Cowgirl. 

With numbers estimated as high as 70 million, Generation Y (those born 1981-1994) is the fastest growing segment of today’s workforce. This group of achievement-oriented individuals are both tech-savvy and conversely, uninterested in the fast track. They’ll gladly trade in the security of a job for a flexible work schedule and doing what they love. They are attention-cravers and motivated by praise and reassurance, whether by mentors or a much larger audience. Outside of the baby boomers, they are the most influential demographic group in our population. I love Jenn Webster’s interviews with four such incredibly driven females, including Chantal, in her story.

 This feature quickly came forward as the subject for this issue’s cover. Thanks to photographer Neville Palmer for his conceptualization of this cover shoot.

Also in this issue, Managing Editor, Dainya Sapergia, also takes a up close and personal look at the relatively underground sport of polocrosse.

Photo by Krista Kay.

Western Lifestyle Editor, Deanna Beckley, together with photographer, Krista Kay, put together an eight page Fall Fashion feature, which simply wowed us all.

Photo by Deanna Buschert.

Deanna Buschert and I enjoyed a positively lovely afternoon hanging out with this gal and her Corgi’s in her incredible western home, and I was able to write about it in my feature, Western Retreat. 

With show season in full swing we covered some of the very many events already completed, took a look at the Calgary Stampede’s Cowboy Challenge champion Jim Anderson’s favorite bit and kicked off a new regular feature, Show Ready, this issue showcasing must-have items every reiner has on their list.

In the realm of horse health, don’t miss our Equine Practitioners Guide, showcasing a selection of the top professionals in the business. As well, we take a look at five favorite equine supplements, get yourself versed on how to recognize and understand lameness, and develop an understanding for why some two-year-olds are shod.

Photo by Larry Wong.

Writer Melissa Sword penned a fascinating piece on barrel racer Gaylene Buff, in her piece, Driven to Succeed. As you will read, this is a competitor with a hard working attitude and intense determination to succeed.

Finally, it’s sale time! Check out the best sales of this fall in our annual Fall Sale Guide. (Be sure you are subscribed to our e-newsletter feed to catch updates on these sales and heads up of late additions.)

We hope we’ve hit the right mix of horsemanship, western culture and style for y’all with this issue. I hope you love reading it, as much as we enjoyed building it.

2012 GMC Rangeland Derby Champion

Troy Dorchester 2012 GMC Rangeland Derby
The Calgary Stampede’s 2012  GMC Rangeland Derby Champion is Troy Dorchester. The final four chuckwagon drivers dueled for the prestigious title and lucrative payday that comes with winning the Calgary Stampede GMC Rangeland Derby. Jason Glass, Doug Irvine, Gary Gorst and Troy Dorchester earned their way into Sunday’s final heat by virtue of their performances in Saturday’s semi-finals. Dorchester made the most of the opportunity, capturing the title on Sunday night.

Dorchester has been on a role lately. He has won the Calgary Stampede Aggregate, the Ponoka Stampede and the Calgary Stampede GMC Rangeland Derby and has taken home two trucks and over $200,000 in prize money.

Kicking off the 2012 WPCA Food Drive

The World Chuckwagon Association and Encana’s 3rd Annual Race Against Hunger sets to kick off this weekend in Grande Prairie, AB. The next stops for this tour include Ponoka, Strathmore and Dawson Creek.

The WPCA announce that they are thrilled to be a part of assisting food banks with this program. May 26, starts the gathering of donations and everyone is invited to meet the WPCA Chuckwagon drivers on site, aiding in this campaign.

“The communities involved in the Race Against Hunger program are so vital to both Encana and the WPCA that we feel honoured to be able to support the people who live there. We’re so excited to be involved in the program for a third year, and hope to surpass the money and donations we gathered in past years” says WPCA Marketing Manager, Cori-Anne Bowhay.

This program raised over $58,500 and more than 13,800 pounds of food for local food banks in 2011. “Encana is committed to helping build strong, sustainable communities where we are privileged to work, including the Grande Prairie area. As part of our commitment, Encana will match contributions to the Race Against Hunger dollar for dollar or two dollars per pound of non-perishable food,” says Mike Forgo, Vice President Business Services and Stakeholder Relations for Encana Corporation. “Our natural gas truckwagon will be on the Stompede grounds in front of the Tech Centre every day to accept donations for the duration of the Grande Prairie Stompede and we thank everyone for their generosity.”

If you are in the Grande Prairie, AB, area and would like to support this program, the Grande Prairie IGA (located at 11299 99 Street) will be collecting non-perishable food or cash donations from 12pm to 4pm.

New Hands Take Lines

Chuckwagon

The World Professional Chuckwagon Association is about to begin their 2012 season, with a new title sponsor taking the lead.  The WPCA Pro Tour is proud to announce GMC, and the Alberta GMC dealers as the title sponsor for the GMC Pro Tour.  This partnership is a natural fit for both groups, who now look forward to working together to develop sustainable chuckwagon racing in Western Canada.

“Having GMC on board is huge for us,” explains WPCA President, Pat Powell.  “We are looking forward to working with this class organization, developing a lasting partnership into the future.” The World Professional Chuckwagon Association has been bringing chuckwagon races to Western Canada for over 30 years, and credits its success to the support of its sponsors.

“GMC, and the Alberta GM Dealers, are proud of our longtime support for chuckwagon racing across the West at various levels, including the GMC Rangeland Derby at the Calgary Stampede, and are excited about our new relationship with the WPCA,” said Mike Degutis, Marketing Manager – Western Canada, General Motors of Canada. “We and our dealers are looking forward to being part of these great events in each community.”

“On behalf of all chuckwagon drivers, we proudly welcome GMC as a World Professional Chuckwagon partner,” adds 12 GMC Rangeland Derby Champion, Kelly Sutherland.  “I trust this new partnership will be extremely rewarding for both parties.”  No stranger to success, Sutherland has been with the WPCA since its inception, and continues to be the most recognizable face in the sport.

It is with the support of its great sponsors that the WPCA is able to showcase western heritage and culture in the communities in which they race.  The 2012 season looks to be the best yet, with tour stops all across Alberta and northern British Columbia.  The 36 best chuckwagon racers in the world are vying for top prize money and their chance at the GMC World Championship Truck and belt buckle, which will be awarded in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta at the end of the season.

Heavy Horse Pull Auction

The gentle giants of the equine world were on show Thursday night at the Victoria Pavilion during the Calgary Stampede’s 10th annual Heavy Horse Pull Advertisers’ Auction. The Heavy Horse Pull will take over the Big Top on Friday, July 15, Saturday, July 16, and Sunday, July 17. Photo credit: Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull got a mighty push on Thursday evening.

The annual Heavy Horse Pull Advertisers’ Auction, which acts as the annual kickoff to the Stampede pull, featured plenty of auctioneer patter and bidder banter at the Victoria Pavilion. And when the dust had settled, a whopping $62,200 had been raised – a dramatic leap from last year’s bottom line of $39,300, and a total that’s believed to be the highest in the 10-year history of the auction.

“We had a lot of registered bidders out tonight . . . probably the most we’ve ever had,” said Bill Nelson, chair of the Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull committee. “And there was really spirited action between bidders, back and forth.

“The per-team totals are as good as we’ve ever had. Our group spent a lot of time prior to the event finding good-quality sponsors, and friends of the Heavy Horse Pull, which really contributed tonight,” added Nelson. “We’re getting more bidders, but we’re also getting people who are really enthused about the program, and willing to support it.”

A total of 23 teams from as far away as Oregon, Washington, and Saskatchewan have arrived for the Stampede’s “tight-tug” pull that is developing a sterling reputation across the continent — and ranks as the richest horse pull in North America, with the winner receiving a cheque for $3,000.

The 2011 Heavy Horse Pull will take over the Big Top for the final three nights of Stampede. The lightweight division gets things underway on Friday, July 15, the middleweights take centre stage on Saturday, July 16, and the gentle giants of the heavyweight division bring the curtain down on Sunday, July 17. Start time all three nights is 7 p.m.

Since it was established in 2002, the Stampede’s Heavy Horse Pull Advertisers’ Auction has become a truly magnetic event for individual and corporate supporters, with attractive and affordable branding possibilities and a unique venue for entertaining clients and employees. For successful bidders, the Heavy Horse Pull advertiser’s package includes passes to watch their teams during competition from a private VIP section under the Big Top, signage on the horses during competition, stall signage in the barns, and an exclusive party in the Victoria Pavilion alongside the horses after the main events.

Thursday night, the Springbank Belgians team of heavyweights, owned by Dennis Weinberger of Cochrane, Alta., garnered the top auction bid, $4,700, from the We’ve Got Pull consortium.

Stan Grad and the Soderglen Ranches team from Airdrie, Alta., commanded the top bid among middleweights, at $4,200, from Lantz Farms Ltd. And Bob McGowan’s team from Lebanon, Ore., earned the top bid among lightweight outfits, at $2,100, from Lone Wolf Wireline.

Also Thursday night, a total of $4,075 was raised for Stephanie Ross, an equestrian rider and 2012 Paralympic hopeful from Vancouver, through the auction of blacksmith art and other items.

Last year, Weinberger and his Springbank Belgians outfit made history by winning the triple crown for the first time in Stampede Heavy Horse Pull history — claiming all three divisions. And Weinberger capped his triplicate win in dramatic fashion, as his gargantuan duo of Dan and Jesse set a Stampede heavyweight division record by pulling a 13,200-pound sled the full 14 feet.

This year’s teams primarily feature Belgian and Percheron horsepower. Outfits compete in three classes based on the total weight of the two-horse team – lightweights from 2,400 to 3,000 pounds, middleweights from 3,001 to 3,500 pounds, and heavyweights tipping the scales at 3,501 pounds and up.