By Cristina Paolozzi, April 26 2020—
On Thursday, April 23, Stampede officials announced that for the first time in almost a century, the Calgary Stampede will be cancelled. The annual rodeo, which brings both local residents and international tourists to the core of the city, will not proceed as a result of the novel coronavirus. As the guidelines for social distancing and the recommendations by government officials to stay home have been circling news outlets since late March, it honestly doesn’t come as a surprise that the largest party Calgary is known for would violate those guidelines. This news definitely comes as a bit of a shock, however, as the Calgary Stampede symbolically rings in the official start of summer. It’s a liminal space where gross beer tents make your cowboy boots all sticky, where you can square dance til all hours of the night and where many of the city’s youth have the chance to let loose and have fun. It’s definitely sad news, but honestly, not unpredictable. This pandemic has many individuals and institutions making difficult and often last-minute decisions. The decision to cancel the Stampede, however difficult and historic, was ultimately the right one.
The Stampede brings an average profit of $21.4 million to the city and sees more than one million visitors to the grounds. This is a huge event that contributes enormously to the economy and in the midst of this pandemic, the economy has definitely been hurting. To cancel the Stampede would be to halt the potential income that the city would benefit from. Not only is this decision difficult financially, but the Stampede is part of this city’s culture. It’s something Calgary can be proud of, and an event where we can show off what we love most about our history and our community. Especially in these stressful times, it is this sense of community that we can count on to help the people most affected. While large gatherings are still dangerous and something that is still being monitored, it seems that our sense of community will still have to take place further apart.
While this decision definitely impacts our city, it is so important to stay vigilant. It’s upsetting and disappointing, especially since these past couple of weeks have been tough on a lot of us. But decisions like this only speak to the level of safety and security city officials are attempting to enact so that the impacts of COVID-19 don’t spread even quicker than they already are. The faster we learn to move past the financial and cultural difficulties that this cancellation will bring to our city, the better we can stop the spread of this virus, rebuild and regroup to support the members of our community who are suffering the most. And besides, those ten days in July can still be celebrated at home with pancakes and cowboy boots in tow.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.