With pancake breakfasts, music, First Nations Parade, square dancing and film, Rope Square offers a free daily start for all Stampeders

Before you Stampede, Square.

It’s the message the Calgary Stampede Downtown Attractions Committee is attempting to impress upon the cowpoke this year — to those seasoned ‘Peders or those who may be new to the entire event — that they should take advantage and embrace all that is being offered at the Fluor Rope Square, located on Olympic Plaza and along Stephen Avenue.

What is it? Why is it? What’s going on? When?

To answer all of these questions, theYYSCENE turned to Georgianne Dwyer, one of the vice chairman of the Downtown Attractions Committee.

Q: For those people who don’t know, tell me what Rope Square is?

A: Well, we are the Downtown Attractions Committee and we look after all of the activities that happen downtown on Olympic Plaza that turns into Rope Square during the Stampede. So all of our activities in that area are free and we start every day, except the two Sundays, at 8:30 in the morning … with a free Stampede breakfast and entertainment, and we also have a lot of other activities. We have a square dance group that’s going to teach you how to square dance, we have old time rig rides, and we have a First Nations parade as well — that concludes the show every day at about 11:30 (a.m.), and that’s very, very popular because it’s great to see our First Nations partners out in full colour and their outfits and horses and ceremonial garb, so it’s quite a spectacular show to see all of that every day.

A: And this year the big addition is the film?

Q: Yes. Something new we’re doing this year that we’re very excited about, we’re doing family movie night (Saturday, July 7). And it starts at 6 p.m., we will be having a band entertaining at 6, the Travelling Mabels, and they’ll play for an hour and then the movie (The Magnificent Seven, 2016 remake) will start at 7 p.m. Food trucks are going to be down there and all kinds of other activities to entertain you. It’s free, so bring your family, bring your chair and sit out and enjoy a free movie for the evening.

Q: You acknowledged earlier that some people might not know about Rope Square, but the purpose seems to be to let people know that before they get to the grounds there’s still a lot going on, isn’t it?

A: Well, yeah. A little bit of history, it started with square dance about 75 years ago, they started square dancing downtown. And the idea was, “Have a pancake breakfast, square dance and then we’ll send you on your way to the rodeo every day.” So our theme is “Start your Stampede downtown,” as we run until about 1 p.m. every day, so you can come down and do some things with us and then leave and still be on time for the rodeo every day at 1:30 p.m.

Q: So this has been going on, in one form or another, for 75 years?

A: Yes, exactly, so we’re one of the oldest committees and we’ve been around for quite a long time. But you’re right, a lot of people don’t really know that all of this is going on downtown every day, except for the two Sundays, every Stampede and it’s all for free. It’s a great place to start, it’s a place to come if you’re plans do not include coming down to the Stampede Grounds, you can still get an awesome Stampede experience from our crew. And they’re amazing — we have 350 volunteers and 16 sub-committees, so we are the largest committee and the most complex as far as everything we do. So it’s a huge job, but the volunteers are an absolutely amazing, hugely dedicated group of people that make it happen every year. It’s absolutely amazing to see …

And we do a lot of year-round events, too. Our breakfast subcommittee will put on breakfasts at the schools throughout the year, and we like to go out to economically challenged schools that the kids may not have the chance to go to the Stampede, so we put on a little Stampede breakfast for them and give them a Stampede experience. We do those year round, mostly in June and mostly in September, but we also put on some corporate breakfasts as well. We just put on corporate breakfast this week for ATB Financial that went really well, so we do operate year round and go out to different functions that would like pancake breakfasts or would like square dancing groups to come out to have a square dance, so, yeah, it’s busy, busy all year round.

(Photo courtesy AJ Baxter.)

Fluor Rope Square takes place every day during the Stampede except Sunday on Olympic Plaza for free from 8:30 a.m. until about 1 p.m. The movie night screening of The Magnificent Seven is Saturday, July 7 beginning at 6 p.m. For more information please click here.