The Calgary Stampede is preparing to open its doors to the public this week after it went missing last year due to the pandemic. Officials on Wednesday offered a preview of the COVID-altered experience that attendees can expect.
Jim Laurendeau, vice president of park planning and development, said guests will always be able to find their favorite attractions.
“We’re almost ready to welcome the community to a Stampede with some things that we all know very well, and some that will be new and different,” Laurendeau said Wednesday.
“There are so many ways to choose what’s right for you at this year’s Stampede. “
The event officially kicks off Friday, but the traditional Sneak-a-Peek returns Thursday, from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Fewer rides, digital queues, masked employees
Precautions are being taken to maintain and improve security at the Stampede, after the province lifted the vast majority of its COVID-19 health restrictions on July 1.
Stampede attendees can expect wider aisles midway, more space between attractions, and digital queues instead of in-person queues, Laurendeau said.
Park capacity will be monitored and reduced, although officials have not confirmed specific figures on how many people are allowed into the park at a time.
Employees and volunteers who deal with the public will be masked, although this is not mandatory for participants.
Guests will need to provide proof of vaccination – or take a free COVID-19 rapid test – to enter Nashville North, which will be an outdoor awning rather than a tent, and will operate at around full capacity.
There will be fewer rides on the grounds, although favorites including the Zipper, Ferris wheel and Polar Express will return.
“We take breaks every two hours to sanitize each ride,” said Lynda Franc, spokesperson for North American Midway Entertainment.
Dr Jia Hu, medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services in Calgary, said he “wholeheartedly believed” that the event could be carried out safely.
“We really try to go above and beyond when it comes to ensuring a safe experience for all participants,” said Hu, who has been a stampede advisor.
“We will implement, I think, some of the most robust and innovative security protocols in Alberta. “
Susan Henry, head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, also encouraged guests to pack and use hand sanitizer, stay with their cohorts, physically distance themselves and be patient with others. .
“Give people space, physically and metaphorically, and be patient with each other,” Henry said.
“It’s been a long 16 month period for a lot of Calgarians, and we all have a different level of comfort. The feelings and opinions have been very strong.”