Cowboys started serving pancakes out of their chuckwagons in the nineteenth century. Calgarians took up the tradition in 1923 when Jack Morton began serving breakfasts of out of his chuckwagon in the downtown core. The only thing better than a free breakfast is one with live entertainment. That’s why the Calgary Stampede has three mobile stages and a volunteer subcommittee to manage them.
Community events use the stages in a variety of ways including hosting performances, award shows and bands. The stages are used year-round and travel outside of Calgary, giving a western theme to any event. In fact, this past February, the group took its newest stage to Banff, for the opening ceremonies of the Alberta Winter Games.
This wasn’t the first winter sporting event for the stages. The Winter Olympics used two stages for the cross-Canada torch relay in 1988. Two years later, the Stampede took possession of them. And the Calgary Stampede still has these original stages. In 2007 a clamshell unit with a 32 feet wide performance area was added to the fleet. They have continued to host many more celebrities and entertainers such as George Fox, Jewel, Gord Bamford, Tim Hus and Carolyn Dawn Johnson.
The Mobile Stage group loves hosting performers but most of all enjoys giving back to the community. The Stampede supplies stages free-of-charge to community events. This allows these events to hang onto funds that would otherwise be used for staging. For example, the Aspen Crossing Music Festival this summer reallocated stage money to the STARS charity. Similarly, other participants, such as 4H and the Lions Club were able to keep funds they raised at the same event.
As the mobile stages have become known across Alberta, more and more events are requesting them. As a result, and part of succession planning the group has begun replacing the 1988 vintage units. In 2013 the group took delivery of a new 53 foot semi trailer type stage. The Mobile Stage group also provide sound equipment to events needing sound but no stage. One example is the Happy Trails events that the Promotion committee has started. Happy Trails brings western hospitality to seniors who cannot come to Stampede Park.
Make sure to be on the lookout for the Calgary Stampede mobile stages throughout the year. When you see the stages, you’ll find our Mobile Stage subcommittee, a subgroup of the Promotion committee, in action. Don’t forget, the stages also help out the Caravan committee pancake breakfasts during Stampede time. So join the more than 100,000 people to receive a free breakfast and enjoy some western entertainment.