The logistics of pulling off events during the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
Every year as June rounds the corner into July, our city takes a collective massive breath and braces for the magic and mayhem of the Calgary Stampede. For guests, the 10-day celebration means rides, rodeos, music, and probably a few too many beers. For us, it means multiple events happening simultaneously that each need to deliver a memorable experience worthy of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. So how do we pull it off? We start with a healthy dose of Stampede spirit, then add a lot of pre-planning, intense scheduling, and a can-do approach that any cowboy would tip his hat to. Pull on your boots, because we’re walking you through a behind-the-scenes look at the logistics of Stampede x OneWest.
Reserve Your Hay Bales
Fun fact: we used 1,800 hay bales in our Stampede projects this year. Multiply that across the entire city, and you’re looking at one seriously in-demand ranch staple. In order to avoid being disappointed (or paying a major premium), planning ahead for the most sought-after western props is a must. That means months before Stampede started, we were planning, counting, and locking-down inventory with our suppliers, on everything from hay bales to wheat stems.
Schedule Product like People – and Schedule, Period
It’s not news to anyone that Stampede is wholeheartedly, unabashedly western. We actually think this collective understanding about what Stampede looks like is part of the magic, and it’s amazing to see the entire city transform into a beautiful and cohesive expression of western tradition every July. That said, the strong aesthetic direction meant that many of our inventory items had to be flipped from one event to another over and over again, which – needless to say – can get a little complicated. To make it work, we created schedules for products such as barrels, ensuring that they weren’t overbooked and that we knew when and how we needed to get these items from one place to another.
Scheduling is the magic word, period, when it comes to Stampede. Staff, trucks, radios, carts and dollies, cleaning kits, tool kits, health and safety PPE…. sufficient quantities of everything has to be hired or purchased and then scheduled carefully to cover up to eight different locations in a single day.
Prepare for the Elements – Calgary Style
From a heatwave to cold rain and back again in 10 days – just another Calgary Stampede! We swung from a high of 33 degrees to a low of 10 degrees, saw 41.7 mm of rain in one day, and took on up to 56 km/hour winds – but like any true Calgarian, we don’t get thrown by a change in weather and you know we planned for both extremes. We had 650 litres of water on hand to keep the crew hydrated and shade tents to protect from sunstroke and sunburn. When the rain showed up, we were ready with ponchos and had even planned ahead to use golf carts instead of trucks for transporting product so as not to tear up the grounds in muddy conditions – after all, this is not our first rodeo.
Map it Out
The Stampede grounds alone are massive; providing simple decor for a booth on the Midway requires knowing when we can access the location, who has proper accreditation to get there, where specifically the booth is, and the route your vehicle is allowed to take to access the area.
Some events for Stampede are complete pop-ups – we might be setting up in the middle of an office building or in a tented venue in a parking lot downtown.
And some events are so large they have multiple “venues” inside of them – at Fort Calgary, we broke our areas into zones to make it clear and manageable.
No matter where we’re setting up, knowing exact locations and routes is key, so we created maps for each of our locations to ensure we knew how to get where we were going, with no surprise detours.
Sweat the ‘Small’ Stuff”
We make it a point to follow every thread, check every box, turn over every stone, and basically know everything that is anything about Stampede. When you’re pulling off multiple events in a day for 10 days straight, you need to care about the details. That means everything from obtaining staff accreditations and taking care of necessary permits to knowing parade routes. No detail is too small to matter and somewhere, somehow, we’re always very glad we looked into that or considered this. Turns out that a lot of times, the small stuff is a big deal.
Standing on the other side of another successful Stampede, we can honestly say that despite the long hours of effort and short hours of sleep, we would not have it any other way. We are so, so proud of the way our entire city pulls together to present this unmatched western celebration every year and we are just excited to be a part of it. For now, everyone may have tucked their boots and hats back in the closet, but don’t be fooled… it won’t be long before we start ordering our hay bales for 2018.