It’s that time of year.

People start dressing in western gear, don their cowboy hats, and businesses get into the spirit of things as well by dressing up their establishments with hay bales and colourful window art.

For the last few years now, you may have noticed Stampede volunteers giving away prizes in various places throughout the city during Stampede time if they spot people wearing cowboy hats (aka “Get Your Head in a Hat”). We do this to recognize the effort that people put into embracing the Stampede Spirit.

Did you know that we also do it for businesses? Every year, we try to recognize groups or businesses in Calgary that put in that extra effort to help provide a friendly and warm western atmosphere for the public. Stampede volunteers travel around the city scouting for groups or businesses that have decorated in a western theme, and recognize them with a plaque thanking them for their participation in continuing the western spirit of the Calgary Stampede.

However, as a volunteer myself, I have to admit, with the city growing every day, it’s getting harder and harder to locate all the businesses or groups within Calgary that take that extra step each year so that they can be properly recognized.

So, here’s where you can help!

If you’re on Twitter and you see a business or group that has decorated their premises in western-themed decorations, then:

  1. Take a picture of the building on your cell phone or camera with the western decorations clearly on display.
  2. Upload it to Twitter including the business name, the address or the street name it’s on (so that we know where it is), a link to the picture, and tag it with the hashtag #csspirit.

So the tweet would look something like this:

Business Name, Location Info, http://linktophoto #csspirit

If you’ve got a GPS enabled phone, feel free to geotag it as well (every little bit helps!).

Of course, I’d feel bad asking this without offering anything in return. So, I manged to persuade some people over here to scrounge up some prizes to give away so that we can run a contest (affectionately known as the “Stampede Spirit Photo Wrangle!”).

Here’s how it’ll work:

Each valid tweet following the format above counts as one entry into the contest, and there’s no limit to the number of times you can enter (although we won’t count duplicate entries; i.e. Submitting a picture of the same establishment twice).

Everyday, starting on Wednesday June 30, 2010 and ending on Wednesday July 7, 2010, we’ll randomly choose one valid entry as that day’s winner (that means we’ve got eight prizes to give away in all). Each day we do a drawing, we’ll draw from all entries that were submitted from the beginning of the contest, so the earlier and more often you upload photos, the more chances you have to win!

What are we giving away?

Each winner will receive:

  • Four Park admissions to Stampede Park
  • Four standing room tickets to the Stampede Rodeo or Evening Show
  • One discount voucher worth 15% off regular price items at the Stampede Store

You can use those four admissions and tickets on yourself (so treat yourself to a trip on Park on four separate days), or you can treat three of your friends to a day at the Stampede; how you want to divvy up those tickets is up to you. All prizes will be available for pick up at Calgary Stampede Headquarters (1410 Olympic Way SE) starting Thursday, July 8 in the afternoon.

So that, in a nutshell, is the Stampede Spirit Photo Wrangle! If you’re walking to work, or you’re out on a lunch break in Calgary and spot a business or group that have decorated in a western theme in the city, take a couple of seconds to snap a pic, upload it to Twitter telling us where it is, and who knows? You might win a free Park admission for four!

And if you’re a business or a group that has already decorated in a western theme and wish to be recognized for it, fill out this handy-dandy web form to alert the Stampede Spirit Community Cruiser to make sure it stops by. If you’re wanting to dress up your establishment, here is a list of resources that can help on where to begin.

Finally, we’ll also be giving away prizes to people if we spot you wearing a cowboy hat this year too (total prizing is valued at over $3.6 million!), so make sure you’re wearing your cowboy hat wherever you go during Stampede week. You never know where in the city we’ll pop up and what cool prize you’ll win!