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Calgary Stampede competitors will need to have one shot of vaccine to compete for $1.5-million prize pool

Curtis Cassidy of Donalda competes in steer wrestling during the Calgary Stampede on July 15, 2017 Photo by Leah Hennel /Postmedia

Competitors at the Calgary Stampede will need to have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to attend this year’s rodeo.

Kristina Barnes, a spokeswoman for the Stampede, said that as part of the event’s modified quarantine plans, each competitor will need at least one shot, but two doses are preferred.

“The reason why it was one (dose) was because when we made the proposal, we thought the general community would only have one,” said Barnes. “All rodeo athletes, not just the international ones, will be required to have that vaccine.”

The federal government announced last week Stampede rodeo competitors and some support staff would be exempt from quarantine rules in place for the public when crossing the Canadian border, meaning they will be able to avoid isolating at hotels.

Barnes said competitors will have to monitor themselves for symptoms two weeks prior to coming to Stampede and they will be undergoing a daily testing regime while competing. She said they will have to remain separated from the public while in Calgary.

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“Once they cross the border, they will go to their secure facilities,” said Barnes. “They’ll go from that secured area, where they’re staying, and then they’ll come to Stampede Park and then they will go straight back.”

She said the infield at Stampede Park will be a secure location where they do not interact with the public.

Barnes said if any competitors test positive, they will have to go through all standard protocols to avoid spreading the virus.

No chuckwagon races, novice competitions this year

The rodeo itself will be a 10-day event as it has been in past years, however there will be no chuckwagon races or novice competitions this year, Barnes confirmed.

She said in past years, competitors would often come to Calgary for their initial runs, go to events south of the border and return for the finals later in the competition. This year, rodeo participants won’t be able to do any border-hopping.

“We can’t have that back and forth under our modified quarantine and testing plan,” said Barnes. “So some (competitors) potentially said no this year because of that.”

While the participant list has not yet been finalized, Barnes said they expect to see a “good mix” of Canadians and Americans competing, including former national and world champions. In past years, Brazilian competitors have attended the Stampede but Barnes said she doesn’t believe any will be in attendance for 2021.

“This year specifically, we probably have more Canadians than we regularly would just simply knowing that, you know, not as many Americans are able to cross the border.”

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Those that do make it to Calgary will be competing for a total of $1.5 million in prizes, split into $250,000 for each event, said Barnes. The total sum is down from around $2 million in past years.

“It’s still the largest payout of prize money In the PRCA season, except for of course the National Finals Rodeo, so it’s still a great payout,” said Barnes.

In terms of the rest of the Calgary Stampede, officials have repeatedly said they are committed to hosting a safe event. Barnes reiterated this during an interview on Thursday, saying organizers are committed to meeting and exceeding all Alberta Health regulations.

“Things like requiring all of our employees and volunteers to wear masks even if masking isn’t mandatory in public,” said Barnes. “We recognize that all of our community will be finding a different way towards moving back out into what is normal.”

On Thursday, it was announced that Nashville North, a mainstay attraction at the event, will be returning in 2021 with a canopy-style tent and lineup of 40 country music stars.

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