June 24th, 2024

If these old seats could talk; Stampede grandstand’s last rodeo

By BRENDAN MILLER on May 17, 2024.

Crews are seen setting up the grandstand on Stampede Grounds as they get ready for a summer full of events.--SUBMITTED PHOTO


Since 1966 the 4,400-seat North Grandstand at the Stampede has welcomed audiences through decades of chuckwagon races and night shows, as well as dozens of RCMP rides, circuses and motocross events.

Age, however, has taken its toll on the large wooden structure and the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede is working to replace the grandstand and event centre next year as efforts continue to secure funding from the province and city.

Crews are currently assembling the grandstand and it will be finished by the end of the month.

This year the Stampede spent $160,000 to install seven large steel pillars to support the roof of the grandstand and re-enforce its foundation to make it structurally safe for use this season.

“Our engineer who looked at it will come through now and give us the approval,” says general manager Ron Edwards.

Edwards says the steel reinforcements will make the grandstand safe for the next two years and compliant with safety standards.

The Stampede has been maintaining the aging grandstand and says it has been servicing supports underneath the structure for the past 15 years to keep it safe for audiences.

This summer those old wooden seats will be the hottest in town as the Stampede revs up for a busy season, expecting tickets to the rodeo and night show to sell fast, and the last chance to experience sitting in a grandstand built in the 1960s

“We have about 4,400 seats between the North and South Grandstand, and we need everyone when we sell out our rodeo, we sell out some of our night shows,” says Edwards. “We absolutely need the seats to be able to bring in the quality of night show acts and rodeos that we bring.”

The grandstand is set to see penalty of action this summer beginning June 20 as the Stampede hosts the WPCA chuckwagon races that will feature 36 wagons with more than 400 horses.

Officials say tickets are selling out quickly for all Pro Rodeo events during the Stampede as well as the Bret Michaels night show on July 24.

The Stampede events this summer don’t stop there. In August the grounds will welcome classic cars and live music for ‘Cars n Guitar,’ an all-day outdoor car show. And at the end of August theStampede will host an Indian Relay Racing event that was announced Thursday with more details to come.

“We’re really excited about that, it’s a brand new event,” says Edwards.

Thursday, the Stampede also opened submissions for this year’s parade over social media.

Float registrations can be made online at mhstampede.com/parade-forms/

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