Kate Thrasher, director, board of director, Calgary Stampede (left), and Charles Macmichael, organizer of the Unofficial Gay Day at the Calgary Stampede (right)

The fifth annual Unofficial Gay Day at the 2017 Calgary Stampede saw energetic crowds of finely dressed members of the LGBTQ community and allies out in record numbers, thrilled and proud to celebrate the introduction of the first annual Western Trailblazer Award.

“We want to honour and celebrate those who give back to the LGBT+ community by effecting change that brings experiences to those who may not have previously felt comfortable in a particular setting. This first annual award is a wonderful fit with the intent of the Unofficial Gay Day to create a welcoming space for the LGBT+ community at the Calgary Stampede.” says Charles Macmichael, organizer of the Unofficial Gay Day at the Calgary Stampede.

Michael Bell, Western Trailblazer Award recipient (left), pictured alongside Dave Sibbald, president & chairman of the board of directors, Calgary Stampede (right)

Together with Calgary Stampede LGBTQ allies, members of the community came together to honour Michael Bell, Western Trail Blazer Award winner and founder of YYC hockey team the Calgary Pioneers. More than the team captain of the community supported hockey team; Bell himself is a pioneer in the Calgary Pride community, volunteering his energy, influence and bravery to make a difference for LGBTQ people in our city. The Award is a unique, specially made belt-buckle adorned with a rainbow cowboy boot beside the CS logo.

“The event is all about bringing people together in the spirit of pride of place and western hospitality to enjoy one of the year’s most amazing events in our local community, the Calgary Stampede.” adds Macmichael.

The first annual Western Trailblazer Award

Showing support alongside the 750+ strong LGBTQ revellers were members of the Calgary Stampede board of directors, and Calgary Stampede employees, Calgary Police Services and government officials. Attendees received a witty name tag hand written by Macmichael, complete with a sticker with the same rainbow cowboy boot image decorated on Bell’s Western Trailblazer Award buckle.

“The Calgary Stampede strives to be a safe, comfortable and accepting space for all community members, and the Unofficial Gay Day is a great way for everyone to come together in an inviting, and most importantly, fun and supportive way,” says Kathryn Jenkins, manager, organizational communications & community engagement, Calgary Stampede.

Travis Beale, media relations coordinator, Calgary Stampede (left), and Kathryn Jenkins, manager, organizational communications & community engagement, Calgary Stampede (right).

A five year long tradition showing no signs of slowing down, there’s no doubt the Unofficial Gay Day will remain to be a shining example for acceptance and support in the city and at the Calgary Stampede. We’re Greatest Together.