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Monday , 14 June 2021

Calgary Stampede says no, Chuckwagon Racing Heritage Society says go

The Calgary Stampede will not be able to present the Rangeland Derby as part of their 2021 Evening Show. However, the Dewberry Chuckwagon Racing Heritage Society has decided to go on with the show.

A meeting was held after midnight by the society on May 30, and the Dewberry Chuckwagons will be held on June 25 to 27 which falls on a weekend.

“Drivers will compete for a $10,000 dash for cash final heat,” the Chuckwagon Racing Heritage Society posted on social media in the early morning. “The dash for cash final heat will be included within guaranteed $ 20,000-weekend payout.”

On May 27, the Calgary Stampede released a statement saying, “Given the contexts of the past year and safety precautions leading up to the planning efforts for Stampede 2021, our annual celebration will be a bit different this year.” 

Danielle Savoni is the Communications Advisor for the Calgary Stampede.

“Given the contexts of the past year and safety precautions leading up to the planning efforts for Stampede 2021, our annual celebration will be a bit different this year,” Savoni said. “As a result of pandemic-related impacts on the 2020 and 2021 chuckwagon racing season across western Canada, the Stampede will not be able to present the Rangeland Derby as part of the 2021 Evening Show. We look forward to the thunder and thrill of the Chuckwagon Races returning in 2022. Similarly, the Grandstand Show was to feature Paul Brandt, but his performance will not be able to take place as planned. As a result of these changes, the Stampede will be presenting a reimagined Evening Show this year.”

“The safety of our community is first and foremost as we continue to plan for the 2021 Calgary Stampede,” Savoni added.

“Specific experiences, activities, and operations will continue to flex and adapt based on the evolving situation and the guidance provided directly by Alberta Health,” Savoni wrote in a statement. “Planning remains underway for Stampede experiences including the Stampede Rodeo, Midway, Elbow River Camp, live music at Nashville North and The Big Four Roadhouse, BMO Market, Western Showcase, Agriculture showcases and competitions, and much more.”

A huge blow for drivers in the sport, Kurt Bensmiller says.

Bensmiller is a four-time world champion Chuckwagon Driver and sat down with Lakeland Connect’s Chad Colbourne recently to discuss his frustrations before the decision was made by the Chuckwagon Racing Heritage Society to go on with the show.

Bensmiller is a third-generation driver, on both sides of his family and this sport is his livelihood. Plus it’s also really expensive to be at the top of the world’s largest outdoor rodeo.

“The ones like me that have been blessed to be at the top it will cost me almost a couple $100,000 every year,” Bensmiller said in the interview with Lakeland Connect. “The horses alone you can average out to $2,000 a horse and until just as of late, I was running 64 head horses. So you know that’s $130,000 just to feed them and that doesn’t include tacking them up, training, you know, all the equipment to go down the road. It’s just it’s a pretty big deal of what we have to spend to do this job.”

Bensmiller says his horses are ready to run and he is ready to ride.

“More details of the weekend to be released as they become available,” the Chuckwagon Racing Heritage Society said on social media.

To view, the entire Lakeland Connect interview with Bensmiller click here

About Arthur C. Green

Arthur C. Green is from Whitbourne Newfoundland and graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked for such organizations as CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire, Great West Media, CKLB Radio, Vista Radio, and Postmedia. He also loves Jiggs Dinner!