By Christine Leppard, Historical Specialist
The Calgary Stampede and our long-time director of Western Events and Agriculture of have been honoured with two awards in agriculture. In a ceremony held in Edmonton on February 7, 2015, Max Fritz was named the recipient of the 2015 Award of Merit from the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies (AAAS), and the Stampede received the Alberta Agricultural Society Century Award.
Max Fritz Awarded the AAAS Award of Merit
The AAAS Award of Merit is presented to an individual or organization that has excelled in the encouragement of growth and promotion of Agricultural Societies in Alberta.
The AAAS honoured Fritz, as follows:
A 30-year team member at the Calgary Stampede, Max Fritz is the director of Western Events and Agriculture for the Calgary Stampede. That covers a lot of ground, with oversight for rodeo and chuckwagon racing, plus year-round western performance horse competitions and agriculture. Max also oversees the Calgary Stampede’s role as ranchers, operating a 22,000 acre ranch and the Born to Buck horse breeding program as well as a cow-calf cattle operation on 8,000 acres.
The Stampede’s role bridging urban and rural audiences fits well with Max’s lifestyle and unique perspectives. Every day he commutes from his farm outside of Calgary into the heart of the city then enjoys his downtime as an avid outdoorsman exploring the great outdoors of Alberta. Max witnesses on a daily basis the dramatic societal changes that shape community opinions on land and livestock management, as well as perceptions of working animals.
Over the years, Max has experienced many changes in how the Stampede’s guests engage in events and attractions on Stampede Park over the year. Much of his time is spent working with a variety of key stakeholders and associations to ensure the organization and industry is aligned with the values of the community. Fairs and exhibitions play a critical role in the community to gather people to celebrate and present unique opportunity to showcase working animals to an increasingly urbanized population. While differences of opinion and challenges are ever-present, Max believes that there are no magic answers, other than ensuring that we are aligned in our values and our actions continue to be meaningful to the community in the future.
The Stampede awarded the Alberta Agricultural Society Century Award.
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development has honoured the contribution that the Calgary Stampede has made to the Calgary and southern Alberta communities since its incorporation more than 100 years ago, by presenting it with the Century Award.
In 1884, Calgary was a small outpost for the surrounding agricultural areas. Recognizing the potential of the region, citizens formed the Calgary and District Agricultural Society. Their aim was to educate visitors about new techniques in agriculture, change the widespread belief that the conditions in the West were unsuitable for agriculture and attract eastern farmers.
The Agricultural Society held Calgary’s first fair in 1886. The Calgary Tribune reported that “There is no reason why Calgary Fair should not be made for all time the leading fair of the west.” Over the next decades, the Agricultural Society—later known as the Calgary Exhibition—saw success in its fairs, but struggled financially. The merger with the Calgary Stampede in 1923 brought stability, and since then the popularity of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede has continued to grow.
The Stampede hosts a range of agricultural events year-round, and works closely with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to preserve the historic OH Ranch. It also runs numerous education programs, including Aggie Days, 4-H, Stampede School, the OH Ranch Education Program and Journey 2050.
The widespread success of the Stampede’s year-round agricultural programming led to the opening of the Agrium Western Event Centre last year. This state-of-the-art facility has been carefully designed to meet the unique needs and safety of our animal guests.
The Stampede welcomes three million guests to its Park each year. Since 1884, the Stampede has continued to honour the Calgary and District Agricultural Society’s original objectives of educating visitors and showcasing Alberta agriculture at home and to the world.
Thank you to everyone past and present who has helped the Stampede to achieve this honour.
Source Calgary Stampede