An increase in attendance combined with positive reviews from guests have Calgary Stampede officials momentarily celebrating their successes while looking ahead to the 2018 event.

“Stampede 2017, in my mind, is one of the best we’ve ever had,” said David Sibbald, Calgary Stampede president and chairman of the board. “We celebrated great weather and we’ve had great events.”

The combined attendance total from the first nine days of the 2017 Calgary Stampede and Sneak-a-Peak was just shy of 1.1 million.

“Our paid attendance, comparative to the two years previous to this, is tracking right on par.”

Sibbald says this year’s Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth involved new approaches to attract visitors and engage the community including Tuesday’s $1.50 admission until 1:50 p.m. in celebration of Canada 150, the addition of Indigenous relay races, additional $5 admission periods, and 10-day super passes. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the acceptance (of the super passes). We had 25,000 purchased.”

Will any of the promotions return in 2018?

“We’re going to take an assessment and a review of all the things,” said Sibbald. “Year over year, the Calgary Stampede prides itself on creating new events and new attractions. We’ll sit back after today, take some assessments and evaluations, and move forward. I can promise you that Stampede will come back in 2018 with many more new products.”

Warren Connell, Calgary Stampede CEO, says the deals and promotions introduced in 2017 were in response to what visitors have said they wanted.

“I wouldn’t call it an experiment, I would call it a new direction of the organization which was paying attention and gauging the community and providing the community the offerings it’s looking for,” said Connell. “There will be new programs and those programs, we hope, will be just as successful as the ones this year.”

According to Connell, Stampede guest survey results were overwhelmingly favourable including:

  • 91 per cent of surveyed guests said their 2017 visit met or exceeded their expectations
  • 77 per cent said the event is truly the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth
  • 82 per cent said they appreciated the Stampede’s attempt to try new things
  • 83 per cent agreed that the Stampede offered options to make it less expensive
  • 80 per cent agreed with animals being involved with the Stampede

Ths year's event saw the introduction of security measures including mandatory bag checks at all entrance gates. The process will be reviewed in the coming days.

"We consider ourselves a safe venue and you'll see that continue," said Connell. "We made adjustments as the Stampede progressed (and) we'll continue to do that. There's a meeting two days after Stampede to actually talk about enhancements we can make to speed up the searches and also keep our site safe for the public."

The 2018 Calgary Stampede is scheduled to run from July 6 - 15.

With files from CTV's Brad MacLeod