Behind The Stampede

·3 min read

For the next four Saturdays, the News is taking you behind the scenes of the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede. Each week we’ll explore what goes into preparing for, operating and cleaning up different aspects of Stampede.

This week, Stampede general manager Ron Edwards shares how he, his team and community volunteers are getting ready for the big event.

Though the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede is still two weeks away, crews are hard at work preparing. From bringing booths, benches and gates out of storage, to ensuring all necessary health and safety requirements are met, setup for the multi-day Stampede is a year-long process.

“The committees get kick-started in August or September,” said Edwards. “The night show committee, the rodeo committee, they will look at everything and say, ‘How did it go?’ or, ‘(For next year) we need to make sure we get this person hired.’

“Also starting in August, we put budgets together for the following year.”

Much of the behind-the-scenes work takes place in the Stampede’s office, where members of 32 committees and a core staff of approximately 15 come together to work out event details.

While details about the event’s itinerary, performing lineup and budget are some of the most time consuming, organizers also have to tackle tasks like event layout, employee and volunteer schedule co-ordination, electrical setup, garbage disposal, securing stock, security and other service contractors, landscaping, food and beverage orders, facility maintenance and more.

While spring events provide Stampede organizers, staff and volunteers with somewhat of a warm-up for the season, by the time July rolls around, setup is well underway.

“There is a certain bit of a routine. But sometimes we’ll see changes,” Edwards said. “This year, weather kind of put us back with all that rain. We weren’t able to get back behind for our rodeo pens and stuff.”

Despite the small setback, Edwards is confident setup remains on schedule.

While the Stampede shoulders much of the event’s organization and setup, external groups – both commissioned and volunteer – assist in such; a welcomed help says Edwards, as setup ramps up as Stampede draws near.

“A lot of different groups will be out very shortly here to start working on their booths,” said Edwards. “They’ve been out fixing them up, getting them cleaned up. Those activities are their responsibility.”

More than 500 volunteers, as well as staff, performers, stagehands, rodeo contestants, stock contractors, veterinary staff, emergency medial service members, security guards, vendors, concession workers, cooks, mechanics, technicians, electricians and more work in tandem to ensure Stampede is a success.

Edwards, who is still in his first year as general manager, is grateful for the help of all involved, especially since it has been two years since the last full and open Stampede took place.

“We’ve missed so much,” said Edwards. “But it comes back pretty fast. And we have notes from previous administrations.”

Nearly a year’s worth of efforts will culminate when Stampede officially kicks off July 27.

KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

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