Each January, our friends at Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) and Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) remind us what true western spirit looks like and what it really means, and it’s about so much more than cowboy hats and rowdy country music (although that is certainly part of the fun). The annual Stars & Spurs Gala is the longest-running and largest fundraiser in Alberta, and funds raised – over $1.3 net million to date – go to the STARS Air Ambulance in Alberta.

That spirit of community, of helping your neighbour and lifting one another up, has never been more evident than at this year’s Gala, where the theme set the tone for the entire night and goals were exceeded with the largest fundraising amount of the past four years. We walked away from the experience more inspired and grateful than ever to be part of this amazing event, and this incredible community. You can read our full event profile here, and keep reading below to get some behind-the-scenes info on the how the whole thing came together.

As always, we did not do this alone. We worked with our friends and partners from Proshow, who produced some truly captivating content to be projected onto two 19’ x 92’ screens at the front and back of the space, throughout the evening’s program. Both Proshow’s screen content and our hanging banners were designed to match our client’s 2018 branding, creating a consistent and immersive theme.

Every event, activation, and project we work on has its own high points, challenges, and chances to stretch our abilities, and sometimes what seems like a small detail can actually take a lot of advanced planning. For example, our hanging banners needed to be carefully mapped in order to avoid interfering with projection lines, while also aligning with the venue’s existing rigging plots. We worked closely with Proshow and Calgary Stampede to triangulate and plot the banners in advance (which involved detailed floor plans and production meetings), and a member from each team was onsite for the actual hanging to supervise and test the placement. Not only did this result in flawless projections to our screens, but it made for a more efficient set-up by eliminating the need to rearrange and move signage multiple times to fix issues. So much of what we do is invisible to most guests when we do it correctly, and this is one of those cases.

An aspect of the event that definitely did NOT go unnoticed was the full-sized authentic STARS helicopter that the STARS team and Calgary Stampede brought in. This is one of our favourite parts of the Gala from year to year, and seeing that shiny red life-saving machine face-to-face really drives home why this fundraiser and this foundation are so important to our community. At the same time, adding a chopper to your event really adds a few layers to the health and safety plan (which is okay with us, because we’re safety-nerds like that). In addition to the safety must-haves like hard hats and high-visibility vests, our friends at Stampede and STARS do an amazing job of organizing this, including an air-tight schedule for the arrival and placement of the chopper and pick-up truck, and notifying all of the event vendors of the pathways these items needed for placement in the space.

Lastly, one of the fun things we’ll remember from this year’s Gala is all of the many ways we found to incorporate guitars into the design. Our favourite guitar-based project was hunting down the small table top guitars which we vinyl-wrapped in a western tooled leather pattern. As an added bonus to this year’s design, we now have a bunch of operations staff who know how to string and destring a guitar, should you ever need help with that (you may need someone else to tune it afterward – our talents here only run so deep).

Thanks again to our client, partners, and vendors on this event for making this year’s Gala so incredible, and to our amazing community who supported STARS and blew this year’s fundraising goal out of the water. We already can’t wait for next year.