Kara Brake, who stepped into her role as general manager of the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede in time to roll out 2021 festivities, says despite a shorter than usual planning period, organizers are pleased with the success and attendance of events.
“I think Stampede went really well,” said Brake. “We were able to, between our staff and our volunteers and our board of directors, pull together multiple events during the week that had been planned over two months instead of a year, and so I’m really happy with what we were able to accomplish.”
The Stampede this year included a Summer Jam, the Summer Pro Rodeo, a Visual Art and Better Living Show and Sale and a night concert with Hunter Brothers. They also ran the Rodeo Royalty Competition and held the annual horse show.
“I wouldn’t say it felt like a regular Stampede,” Brake said. “We weren’t able to do our free entertainment because the midway company didn’t tour this year. It wasn’t something we can control, so it was a little different because we didn’t have 10,000 people on our grounds at once like we’re used to.
“That being said though, we were really really happy with attendance. We weren’t really sure what to expect, whether we were going to see more people than normal, or if we were going to see fewer people than normal, but we saw a very average year of admissions and people coming to the events, so we were really happy with that. Summer Jam was one of the best years that we’ve had … so I would say we are really happy with how attendance went this year.”
Brake said some events, such as the Visual Arts and Better Living Show and the Hunter Brothers concert, had even bigger turnouts than expected.
“I think people were excited to get out, excited to participate in the events.”
Brake explained there were a few bumps along the way, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Most of the issues came from having to plan the event in eight weeks, and “just going through the up and down roller coaster of what we could and couldn’t do and what restrictions were going to look like.”
“We’re looking forward to next year,” she said, “and hopefully having fewer of those hurdles to jump through and being able to put back on a show with all of our events at full capacity.”
Brake says she loved watching people being able to get out and socialize.
“It was really cool to see people running into people that they hadn’t seen in a long time, or being able to celebrate together, to spend some time together,” Brake said. “I think that was definitely a highlight for us being able to provide something for people to be able to come out and really enjoy themselves and celebrate being together again.”
LAUREN THOMSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News