Calgary Stampede 2021: The Cowboys are coming, but they’ll be wearing masks

Calgary Stampede North Entrance: The North entrance gate of Calgary Stampede park is taken on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. After its cancellation in 2020, the 2021 Stampede will return for ten days from July 9 to 18. (Photo by Ngoc Man Loi/The Press)

It’s official. The Calgary Stampede has been approved for this summer.

After cancellation in April, 2020, this year’s event will return for ten days from July 9 to 18.

The Calgary Stampede plans to release a safety plan that includes masks for all front-line staffs and volunteers, more sanitization stations, and capacity limits at all venues.

On June 14, 2021, the Calgary Stampede held a press conference to address safety concerns for the 2021 Stampede.

“We will only host a safe Stampede,” said Steve McDonough, president and chairman of the Stampede Board. “The safety of our guests, competitors, and our community is our absolute priority.”

McDonough says that he is aware the concerns around this year’s event, so the 2021 Stampede will look different from the past and “will reflect concerns for safety.”

“We can pull this off safely and responsibly,” said Dr. Jia Hu, a public health physician and advisor to the Calgary Stampede.

Outdoor events, reduced capacity, implementing masks, proof of vaccination and rapid test are the main things that Hu believes would make the event safe.

Interim Calgary Stampede CEO Dana Peers says there will be a focus on testing for workers, masking and cleaning protocols, reduced lineups, limited capacity at venues and sanitization stations.

Attendees will be “encouraged” to wear masks and have to follow the guidance of Alberta Health and the City of Calgary regarding mandatory masks.

“We encourage you to plan in advance, per-purchase your admission and find those experiences that you enjoy and fit your comfort level,” said Peers.

Most Calgarians think the Stampede will be good for businesses and the economy but they still have concerns.

“It’s the best idea, if we are fully vaccinated,” said Reem Atwani, a business student enrolled at Mount Royal University. “If not, I feel like it’ll spread more.”

But Chau Pham, a full-time mom of a two-year-old, disagrees.

“It’s a health perspective, I don’t think it’s safe yet,” she said.

She thinks it’s better to require attendees to get vaccinated because it might eliminate the risk of another wave.

“I would not be opposed to it,” said Nipuna Premachandra, a third-year student at the University of Calgary.

He worries that rising cases could potentially be a problem. But if more people get vaccinated, it would be “okay.”

According to Peers, there could be a vaccination site on the grounds.

“We continue to work with the provincial authorities and Alberta Health was certainly open to having vaccinations,” said Peers.

The organization is still considering the idea of proof of vaccination or rapid testing at certain venues.

Pham thinks the organization should be careful when checking vaccination records.

“If they can’t check whether the vaccination paper is valid, all the problems will go back as in India,” said Pham.

Some Calgarians think it’s too soon for the return of the Stampede.

“I just don’t think it’s safe to open it this year,” said Atwani. “But maybe next year, definitely.”

The Stampede has no specific plan yet, beyond the assurance that it is running. Decisions will be made in response to evolving safety conditions and recommendations in the weeks ahead.

About Mandy Loi 5 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Mandy Loi is working as a writer for The Press during the 2021 academic year.