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Yahoo: Feds grant travel exemption for int'l performers, competitors coming to Stampede

Last Updated Jun 11, 2021 at 1:09 pm MDT

People packed on to the Calgary Stampede grounds. Saturday, July 13, 2019. (PHOTO: Tom Ross, 660 NEWS)

CALGARY – People heading to the Calgary Stampede from abroad have been given the green light from the federal government to cross the border.

Performers, competitors, and staff will be allowed to come to Calgary for the legendary annual rodeo–something the premier is celebrating.

Jason Kenney says the exemption means the rodeo aspect of the Stampede will be able to go ahead this year.

“Like Alberta itself, the Stampede has persevered through floods, fires, and much more,” Kenney said in a release.

“Now, with vaccines on our side and Albertans lining up to get protected, we can add a global pandemic to the many obstacles the Stampede has overcome.”

It’s also welcome news for show organizers as the 2021 installment looks less and less like its former celebrations.

“Safety is the primary focus of the 2021 Stampede, for our community as well as those coming to compete at the Stampede Rodeo,” said Dana Peers, Interim CEO of the Calgary Stampede, in a release.

“We are committed to meeting and exceeding Alberta Health guidelines and appreciate the recognition by PHAC and the Federal government of our efforts and commitment. This decision acknowledges the importance of our iconic and world-renowned rodeo as part of our annual celebration and we look forward to once again hosting the very best in the world in this sport.”

A Stampede like no other

The Stampede is expected to go ahead, albeit in a very different capacity this year.

Last month, the Stampede announced the chuckwagon races had been cancelled and the Grandstand Show had been reinvented for the COVID-19 era.

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“For 2021 only, we are planning a brand-new Evening Show experience that will include high energy western events, competitive rodeo, live music, The Young Canadians, emotion-filled celebration, and one of the largest fireworks displays in Canada,” said the Stampede near the end of May.

Paul Brandt, who was slated to perform as a part of the daily evening show, has pulled out.

The country musician said in a statement that he looks forward to returning to stages everywhere, including the Stampede, when the time and opportunity are right.

In addition, the iconic parade will be a virtual event.

Other changes to the Stampede include an absent Cowboys tent.

The casino and dancehall said Thursday that it would be cancelling its July music festival over COVID-19 safety concerns.

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“We have taken into account all of the information surrounding federal, provincial, City of Calgary, and AHS health restrictions, vaccination rates on first and second doses, travel restrictions, and more. Based on this information we have concluded that creating and bringing you the true ‘Cowboys experience’ is not possible,” it said on social media.

The operators behind the show’s midway said earlier this year staff would be attending and bringing some of Calgary’s favourite rides as per usual.

“We plan to cross the border in mid-June, we’re going to isolate for two weeks, quarantine ourselves for two weeks and then come to the Calgary Stampede. We’re really excited,” said Scooter Koruk with North American Midway Entertainment in mid-May.

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And while there has been criticism from some Albertans and health officials, Kenney and Mayor Naheed Nenshi have maintained that The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth can go ahead safely.

The premier reiterated his safe-Stampede stance Friday, adding that the province is closing in on the threshold needed to lift the last of the pandemic restrictions in Alberta.