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Each year, the Calgary Stampede welcomes over one million visitors throughout the ten-day festival. It’s a short season, but a busy one, as the city comes alive with travellers and locals alike. But for the average Albertan, the Stampede spirit fades once the midway is torn down.

This is soon to change, with the new Sam Centre set to open in Calgary next year. The space will serve as an immersive experience for visitors of all ages to discover the rich history of the Calgary Stampede, year-round.

“What is the Stampede like? You might think of it as the brand, you might think of it as food, you might think of it as rodeo. But it's all that and so much more,” says Jennifer Holm, Manager of Sales and Guest Experience. “The Sam Centre will allow visitors to get a deeper sense of knowledge about the Stampede, everyone who created the Stampede and how we all belong.”

As you might imagine, the organization has collected quite a few artifacts and unique items over the past 111 years. Sam Centre aims to bring these pieces and their history to life, with physical exhibits layered with digital augmentation including video and audio components.

The space will also feature a “Behind the Scenes” digital installation, featuring real stories from people who have had a connection with the Stampede for decades.

The collection of vignettes makes space for people to share their Stampede story, illuminating how the Stampede has provided a place of connection and community. “We're sharing these stories to create a greater sense of community outside of those 10 days in July,” says Holm.

Building community through shared experiences

For many visitors who travel to Alberta for the Calgary Stampede, the Sam Centre will be the perfect add-on to their busy itineraries, adding a layer of meaning and common understanding to their Stampede experience.

As for the rest of the year, the team looks forward to hosting a wide range of events and programming that will attract visitors and locals alike. This includes a rotating gallery that will feature partnerships with local creators and organizations from the community.

In alignment with the Stampede spirit, the team looks forward to fostering collaboration and partnerships to build community within Alberta. In fact, they already have agreements in place with a few museums and organizations across the province.

“We’ll have items on display from the Museum of the Highwood, which will encourage people to go down to High River. We’ll have items on display there on loan from Glenbow, so we can encourage people to walk down the street,” explains Christine Leppard, Manager of Exhibits & Experience.

“We firmly believe that we, as an industry, are all better when we can get more people coming more regularly to these sites. It’s important for cultural organizations, but most importantly, it’s important for the vibrancy of the local community and allows us to provide an enriching experience to guests from around the world, who are welcome to our region with some really spectacular sites to visit.”

Rendering of the upcoming Sam Centre opening Spring 2024.

Shaping the next 111 years

While the Sam Centre will serve as a space to explore the past, the organizers hope to provide a platform to discuss the future, too.

“We want to create a space for our community to come together and start to have conversations about what the Stampede means to us. What could it mean tomorrow? What could it mean in a decade from now?” asks Dr. Leppard.

The Sam Centre will open in spring 2024. To learn more or discuss collaboration opportunities, contact

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