The Calgary Stampede has history that dates back more than a century, and it has a rich heritage that goes on beyond its years.
This year will be the 13th that the winners of the tournament-style rodeo will earn $100,000. Over that time, more than a dozen champions have Texas addresses. Here’s the key: The Stampede features only the top 20 contestants in each of six events, so that opens the door for a gob of Texans to be on the roster.
“Other than the great competition, it’s a great opportunity for rodeo cowboys,” said Jacobs Crawley, the 2015 saddle bronc riding world champion from Boerne. “It has a large payout and has great stock. It’s a fun vacation for a week.”
Not many vacations offer folks a chance to win thousands of dollars over a 10-day competition, but that’s what happens in Alberta’s largest city each July.
“It’s one of the best rodeos to win and win at the biggest and best rodeos,” said Tuf Cooper, the 2011 Calgary Stampede titlist and a four-time world champion from Calgary. “It’s a dream come true to compete at the biggest and best. The payout is $100,000, and that can change my life, my year. The year I won it was the first year I won the world championship.
“I had financial freedom the rest of the year and could just focus on roping. That was the key to my success to my first world championship.”
In 2017, four of the six winners were Texans: bareback rider Richmond Champion of The Woodlands, tie-down roper Cory Solomon of Prairie View, barrel racer Tiany Schuster of Krum and bull rider Sage Kimzey, who now lives in Salado. That’s more than $400,000 that crossed the border and was deposited into Texas accounts.
“Rodeo cowboys have the very best, especially people in Texas,” Cooper said. “We travel to where the weather is good. We leave Texas whenever it gets hot, and we come home when it cools off.”
The weather is a big part of the equation. The average temperature in Calgary in July is 76 degrees. But there are other factors that play into the game.
“I ride bucking horses for a living,” Crawley said. “Anywhere there’s great stock, great competition and a large payout, that’s the name of the game. They love rodeo up in Canada.”
And Texans love the opportunity for some cool Canadian money to bring back across the border. —Ted Harbin
Ted Harbin is a longtime journalist who spent 22 years in the newspaper industry before focusing on rodeo. He owns Rodeo Media Relations and TwisTed Rodeo and is one of just eight individuals to be honored with media awards by both the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. He lives in Maryville, Mo., with is wife, Lynette, and their two daughters, Laney and Channing.