Anticipation filled the air on Stampede Park throughout the months of September and October as the competitions for Calgary Stampede Queen & Princesses and Calgary Stampede Indian Princess were underway. To narrow down to the final three Stampede Queen and Princesses, 21 hopeful contestants took part in a four-week long contest with numerous competitions such as public speaking, equestrian, personal interviews and more. The Indian Princess pageant took place over two weeks, with five applicants and several events, including speech training, horsemanship and attending community events.
Excitement reached its highest peak with the crowning of Stampede Queen Maggie Shortt, Stampede Princess Chelsey Jacobson, Stampede Princess Baillee Billington and Stampede Indian Princess Vanessa Stiffarm. These four new Calgary Stampede ambassadors have already begun the journey of a lifetime; the Royalty have already attended events representing the Stampede and will make more than 400 appearances throughout the year. So just who are these four young women and what are they looking forward to this year?
Vanessa Stiffarm’s roots are from the Blood Tribe, as her parents are Evelyn Killsback, from the Blood Tribe, and John Stiffarm, from the A’aniiinin (Gros Ventre Tribe) and her grandparents are Roger and Cathy Hunt, also from the Blood Tribe. All have taught Vanessa about her First Nations culture and traditions and are her key supporters. Vanessa is a Ladies Jingle Dress and Fancy Shawl dancer and is working towards her goal of completing her undergrad degree in biochemistry in order to pursue her life-long dream to be a pediatrician.
“I cannot explain the excitement and complete happiness I feel right now having been crowned 2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. This all feels so surreal and I’m overwhelmed with joy and love from my family, friends and the community. I can’t wait to start this journey and I’m most looking forward to sharing my culture and educating everyone I meet about the history of Treaty 7 and the Calgary Stampede. Thank you again to my family, friends, the Indian Village community and to everyone else. I love you all.”
Stampede Queen Maggie Shortt is from Strathmore, Alberta and has an extensive background in both English and Western riding. She has always been passionate about the Calgary Stampede and was a member of the Stampede Showriders for four years. Maggie is currently completing biology degree and hopes to one day study veterinary medicine.
“To me, being part of the Stampede Royalty means embodying the personal values of the Stampede such as western heritage and sense of community. By resembling these values we aid the Stampede in keeping our western culture alive and bringing the community together. I am most looking forward to our first grand entry at the Calgary Stampede.”
Stampede Princess Chelsey Jacobson is from Drumheller, Alberta, though she now lives in Calgary, Alberta. She recently graduated from Olds College’s Equine Science Program and is now pursuing a degree in Social Work at the University of Calgary. Her favourite hobbies include riding and hunting.
“For me, being Stampede Royalty means having the opportunity to represent something so much larger than myself, to embody the western values that are so important to me personally and to share them with others, especially those that may be unfamiliar with the western lifestyle and heritage. I am thrilled for the chance to meet and become a part of the Stampede family, not just for my year of being Royalty, but after that as well.
It is such a warm, welcoming community and I am so grateful to have gained such an incredible support system, even this early in my year. To have the opportunity to form bonds with people who share the same goals and aspirations as myself will be a rewarding experience that I will be able to cherish for the rest of my life.”
Stampede Princess Bailee Billington was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. She recently completed her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice at Mount Royal University. She loves riding, dancing and watching football.
“It’s hard for me to sum up what it means to be a part of the 2016 Royal Trio – it’s honestly a dream come true! I’m humbled to have been selected to be an ambassador for the Stampede and as a role model to others. To me, being a Stampede Princess means being an example of western values and representing our city, province and country with pride.
Aside from the actual 10 days of Stampede, what I’m really looking forward to is that we get to bring an element of Stampede and western hospitality year-round to our city and all over the world – I’m really excited to be a part of that.”
To follow the Royalty on their adventures, visit www.facebook.com/CalgaryStampedeQueenandPrincesses and www.facebook.com/CSindianprincess.