CALGARY — The rain-plagued Calgary Stampede is reporting its lowest total attendance in 22 years.
Spokeswoman Jennifer Booth says persistent rains are being blamed for cumulative attendance that reached just 1,088,000 at the 10-day western show, the lowest level since 1994 when 1,082,000 came through the turnstiles. The 2016 total is down about seven per cent from 2015 and off 13 per cent from the five-year average of 1.23 million.
Attendance was in line with previous years for the first few days of the show but fell off as rain repeatedly pelted the grounds last week, prompting officials to cut its $18 general admission price to $5 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. On Sunday, 65,000 guests took advantage of a special offer of free admission in the morning and half-price tickets were available for the evening rodeo and Grandstand Show.
Marketing manager Jenna MacMillan of Lammle’s Western Wear and Tack says overall sales revenue was on par with previous years at its nine temporary stores on the Stampede grounds, but the product mix this year was quite different.
She says the company sold thousands of plastic rain ponchos, while guests trying to add layers to survive the chilly weather drove sales of sweaters and hoodies.
Alberta’s economy is also taking some of the blame for lower numbers. TD Economics says in a report that Alberta’s recession this year will likely be more severe than any of its past four recessions, with double the average decline in growth.