Happy Canada Day everyone! We’re just 5 days away from what is shaping up to be one of the biggest celebrations our city has ever seen. I know I can hardly wait….are you excited yet??

Being a Calgary Stampede volunteer & blogger sure is a great opportunity- one I don’t take lightly- especially when interviewing a Queen and two Princesses! Read on to find out more about our beautiful 2012 Stampede Royalty. (and in case you missed my posts about our 2012 Indian Princess, you can catch them here and here).

1. Congratulations on your 2012 Centennial Calgary Stampede Royalty selection! Tell us a bit about how the competition went, what lead you to this point- have you always dreamed of being a part of the Stampede Royalty?

Candice:  We are all excited to be selected for Stampede Royalty this year; it’s been such an amazing experience! For me this has always been a dream of mine. I used to picture myself running in for grand entry and the fact that it’s actually happening this summer is still so surreal. What really lead me to try out for the royalty was the thought of being an ambassador for Calgary and the Calgary Stampede.

The contest itself is quite an experience on its own. Within the month of September you see yourself change and become more confident in who you are and why you are there. With all the impromptu speaking, mix and mingling, riding, interviews and more, you really get a taste of what it would be like to be in the royalty.

2. The Stampede Royalty is rich in tradition thru the history of the Calgary Stampede. How does it feel to be a part of this history now?

Candice: This question is definitely one that gives me butterflies every time I hear it!

The thought of looking back in 50 years and seeing our photos in history books is something all of us will be able to cherish forever. We all live the lifestyle of western heritage and values, and being able to carry that on as the younger generation – it’s something that I believe the older generation can find comfort in. These values will always be something embedded in the roots of Calgary, and to carry on the tradition makes all of us so proud.

3. How many public appearances does Stampede Royalty usually attend during the year, and more specifically…how many during the 10-day Stampede? You must have a very organized group of volunteers keeping you on top of everything!

Candice: We have an amazing committee that works endless hours keeping our schedule straight and running successfully! Because it’s a very special year, we will be doing a little over 500 events, about 170 will be throughout the 10 days of Stampede! We have been all over the place leading up to the celebration. I am excited to experience all the craziness that the 10 day show will bring!

4. Your schedule sounds grueling but also quite exhilarating. Has there been a highlight event you’ve attended thus far?

Jessica: We have attended so many amazing events this year, it is hard to pick just one. I would have to say that the most incredible experience for me has been our trip to Berlin, Germany. While we were in Berlin, we attended the world’s largest tourism convention called the ITB. For three days we met people from all around the world and learned a great deal about many other cultures. We are so blessed to be in this role, sharing the spirit of the Stampede  (including as our western heritage) all around the world. It was truly an amazing experience!

5. Surely after spending so much time with the other Royalty, including the Indian Princess, you’ve formed great friendships that will last a lifetime. Could you tell us a bit about each of them?

Jessica: We have definitely gotten to know each other very well; I could go on for several paragraphs about each of my Stampede Sisters!

Dani is a wonderful girl who is very sweet and has a great sense of humor. She is also a tough, ranch raised cowgirl who is not afraid to speak her mind. She has a deep love for her Appaloosa horses that she uses in extreme cowboy competitions, and she is currently working towards her degree in nursing. Dani is also an extremely talented ringette player; I have no doubt she will be a future Olympian!

Candice is a proud, born and raised Calgarian who is not afraid to wake up at 4am to pursue her passion: fitness and personal training. She makes us laugh with her constant movie impressions- there is rarely a dull conversation had between the four of us. She is very family oriented and would do anything for any of her Stampede Sisters. Candice currently lives with her parents on their acreage outside of Cochrane, where she keeps her Buckskin mare named Grace. When she isn’t representing the Stampede, she competes in Reining with her horses. Candice will be pursuing a degree in human kinetics in Kelowna after passing on her crown this fall. She also loves challenging herself with CrossFit, and plans to compete next year.

Amelia is a beautiful, proud and very intelligent representative of the Stampede as well as Treaty 7 from the Piikani Nation, near Pincher Creek. Amelia is passionate about changing stereotypes and encouraging young women to seek their full potential in every way. Amelia is very family oriented and her culture is extremely important to her; we have learned so much from her this year. Amelia also has an amazing sense of humour, she has made me laugh until I’ve cried many times. Amelia has a degree in Communications and Culture from the UofC, and has plans of becoming a lawyer one day. She is a wonderful representative as well as a talented dancer. Amelia also makes her own Indian Princess and Pow Wow outfits with help from her family members and she is a very skilled beader.

I have had such a great time getting to know these wonderful young women!

6. You ladies look so beautiful and put together at each and every event, how many wardrobe changes must you go thru in a year?

Jessica: It is hard to say how many changes we go through in a year; sometimes we wear three different outfits in a day! We are so incredibly fortunate to have so many generous sponsors who supply and design our outfits for us.

The amount of clothing, boots and jewelry we receive in the year is truly overwhelming; far more than I ever expected. We even have sponsors for our hair, nails and makeup, we are so grateful for the support our program receives! As Stampede Royalty, we are always trying to make a great and lasting impression, and our sponsors are who we must credit for making that possible!

7. What is the most memorable moment of your reign that you’ve experienced?

Dani: So far this year there have been so many memorable moments…and I know that there will only be more to come! But when I think back to memorable moments, our trip down to Anaheim, California brings back many laughs. We went down to Anaheim for a promotional event in partnership with Travel Alberta. Our mission was to spread the Stampede spirit at a Ducks vs Flames hockey game. While we were at the event, the girls and I randomly ran into the Stampede Queen from 1956, Shirley Bertoli! Coincidentally, Shirley had sent us all congratulatory letters in the fall when we were crowned, not thinking that we would ever get to meet in person. That was an exciting and emotional moment that I will never forget! Our trip to Disneyland while we were there was also tons of fun!! No one is ever too old to have fun in Disneyland!

8. Have you any advice for up and coming Stampede Queen and Princess hopefuls?

Dani: Being Calgary Stampede Royalty is an opportunity of a lifetime! Even the competition itself is fun and full of learning opportunities and a chance to meet other wonderful young women. My advice would be: Be prepared to become the new you! The experience and opportunities you will get can transform you into a more confident person. But in order to get the most out of this program, you have to be open to taking on new challenges and stepping out of your comfort zone.

For me, I never thought that I would become Stampede Royalty. I always thought I was just a farm girl, and I wasn’t girly enough to be “Royalty”.  Make-up, fancy clothes and posing for pictures wasn’t my forte, and for other girls maybe something like public speaking isn’t the most desirable activity for you. But be prepared to see improvements in yourself and to be able to walk into a room and radiate with your own unique awesomeness. From singing with elderly people, to giving away perfume samples in the mall, to speaking in front of thousands of people, becoming royalty will change you! Anything is possible, so even if you don’t think being royalty is for you, try it anyway!! Another piece of advice: Love and thank your sponsors and committee members as often as you can. These people are amazing and work so hard for the success of the Royalty.

9. What are you most looking forward to during this year’s extra special 100th Calgary Stampede?

Dani: There are so many special things happening this year it’s hard to say!! The 10 days of Stampede is going to be incredible. I think the girls would agree with me, riding in the parade for the 100th year will be a once in a lifetime experience. The energy and excitement will be so thrilling!! Seeing thousands of people join in on the streets of downtown Calgary to kick off the Greatest Show on Earth, it will be the epitome of this year’s Stampede slogan, “We’re Greatest Together”, and the girls and I are so thankful to be a part of it all.

10. Our committee is putting together a Time Capsule that will be opened 100 years from now. If you could include one item, what would it be and why?

Jessica: I would like to include a photo of the four of us, the Calgary Stampede Centennial Royalty, astride our beautiful Stampede horses. I want future generations of young women to look at the four of us and feel that they can do anything they put their minds to. I feel that we are making our own mark in the history of Calgary, Alberta and our own western heritage. To do that we had to put aside our fears and doubts, and try- that is the message I would like to leave behind. (**Sarah’s note: Our committee would love to include an autographed photo of you all, I will be in touch to arrange a ‘photoshoot’!)

** Ladies, thank you so much for allowing me to take some of your very limited free time to chat! I hope you have the best possible Stampede experience, one you are sure not to forget for the rest of your lives. Thank you for being such amazing ambassadors for the City of Calgary and the Calgary Stampede. 

Are any of you young women out there hoping and dreaming of one day becoming a member of our storied Calgary Stampede Royalty? The Royalty committee is calling all Stampede-loving ladies between the ages of 19 and 24 in the Calgary area as they’re now looking for the 2013 Stampede Queen and Princesses. You can find more information here, and download your application here. Applications will be accepted until September 4, 2012.

Best of luck, Ya Hoo!