What does networking, bolo ties & sustainability have in common?

Communications and Marketing Associate

The Calgary Stampede celebrated its opening festivities on Friday, July 6, a few days before Nadi’s arrival. Even though we missed the weekend celebrations, in no way did it mean the partying had slowed down since then.

Coincidentally, my first Stampede was also Nadi’s first Stampede. And while I didn’t have any expectations ahead of time, I understood that the City of Calgary (and to an extent, the entire province) takes this 10-day event very seriously. It appeared that every business, company and individual had dedicated time and energy to dress up and ensure the Stampede would be a success. Even our Best Western hotel rocked a temporary farm fence with a cowboy silhouette in the lobby.  

Sporting my cowgirl hat and bolo tie, we started our own line up of festivities at the Premier’s Breakfast. The government held the event at McDougall Centre—a provincial government office and meeting space—where MLAs, interns and other government workers, wearing their Stampede best, mingled and served Calgary residents and visitors breakfast.

The Premier's Breakfast at McDougall Centre
The Premier's Breakfast

The Hon. Sandra Jansen, minister of infrastructure, emceed the breakfast. She cracked jokes and provided introductions for a number of notable public figures, including the Premier of Alberta Rachel Notley. 

Lucky for Nadi, we got to chat with the Hon. Jansen who we found out is an exceptional acrylic painter. She showed us one of her pieces on her phone: a hauntingly beautiful buffalo painted in soft grey, black and white shades. We also chatted with the Hon. Ricardo Miranda—a very affable and social politician, which is not surprising considering he heads the Department of Culture and Tourism. Ricardo complimented me on my hat, so he basically will always have my vote! 

Nadi hanging out with Minister of Culture and Tourism the Hon. Ricardo Miranda
Emeka Nnadi, Hon. Ricardo Miranda and Rebecca Henderson

After eating a hearty breakfast of sausage, eggs and pancakes, we headed to Clifton Associates for their annual barbecue. Nadi tips their proverbial hat to the Clifton staff who started preparing for the barbecue months in advance and began cooking for the event almost a week prior. They prepared 24 slow roasted pork briskets, made into pulled pork, with homemade barbecue sauce and coleslaw for guests. They also used honey wine to create new and refreshing takes on such classic cocktails as the Moscow mule and mojito. 

As we currently work with Clifton Associates on a significant local project, it felt great to meet the staff in person for the first time (at least for me, Emeka already knew everyone!) and learn more about the Clifton work culture. I admit I was jealous when I found out the staff got to take home family-sized packages of pulled pork once the barbecue was over. I’m very food driven. 

Our next stop was the Alberta Chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) Mixer at CRAFT Beer Market. If you’re unfamiliar with the AEE, it’s an organization that "provides energy professionals with information on dynamic fields of energy engineering, energy efficiency and management, renewable and alternative energy, power generation, energy services, sustainability and environmental compliance." 

Stampede Parade near the Hudson Block on the corner of Stephen Avenue and 1 Street S.W.
Stampede Parade on 8th Avenue

And for those of you who are unfamiliar with CRAFT Beer Market, it’s a swanky restaurant located on Calgary’s historic Beltline, boasting beers from all over the world. There, we met the AEE Alberta Chapter founder Afure Onekpe and its president Babar Moghal, giving a chance for us to introduce our firm to the organization and individuals who share our values in sustainable development. 

The AEE Mixer felt like a more traditional networking event at the Stampede, consisting mainly of engineers and people from the oil and gas industry. I met Yeji Soh, a project engineer for Ops Mobile. We discussed reclamation projects and the need to revitalize spaces (that were used for oil and gas purposes) back to their original ecosystems and natural habitats. Our conversation reminded me of Nadi’s work in the reclamation of landfill sites and projects such as Eskar Park and 99 Red Balloons.

After a few beers and a few too many sliders, we headed back to the hotel to rest, mentally preparing for Tuesday’s event. 

View from the 10th floor of my Best Western Plus Hotel suite in Downtown Calgary
View from my hotel in Downtown Calgary

Site furniture company Maglin invited us to the Bootleggin’ Breakfast event at the Calgary Petroleum Club—a swanky business spot downtown (and once only admitted men). Naively, I assumed it would be similar to the AEE Mixer, and I packed all my business cards and promotional material in my bag. I soon learned it was not! I realized the Bootleggin’ Breakfast is its own beast as well as a sought-after ticket at the Stampede. Two bands played simultaneously on the first floor and the second, while people filled out space from one end to the other. I enjoyed pancakes, sausages, pastries, eggs and hash browns, and sipped on orange juice with soda and vodka. While 9 a.m. is a little too early for alcohol during the week, that definitely is not the case during the Stampede—it’s expected! 

Band playing at the Bootleggin' Breakfast at the Petroleum Club in Downtown Calgary
The Bootleggin' Breakfast

Despite the general mayhem (not a criticism), I found that one of the great things about the Bootleggin’ Breakfast was the opportunity to establish relationships with a variety of people from different industries. And while we may never work together in a professional sense, I believe that it’s not impractical to maintain these relationships as well. 

I spent a lot of time walking around the city during my downtime. I explored side streets as I did main roads in the city, always surprised and delighted by the built and natural scenery.  

View of Downtown Calgary from a BMW
Downtown Calgary

The Stampede brought me to Calgary for the first time since I was a child, and it did not disappoint. I’m amazed by the city’s architecture such as the Bow and the Calgary Tower as well as the importance that decision-makers place on creating spaces that people want to live, work and play. 

I discovered so many land art installations throughout the city, whether it was the downtown underpasses or located in the more residential areas. If you have read any of my articles, you know I am a huge proponent of land art and what it can do to elevate and enhance a city’s desirability. 

The Chinook Arc in Bob Scott Park, land art installation
The Chinook Arc in Bob Scott Park

To put it simply: I can’t wait to revisit Calgary again. 

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