Calgary – For families like the Townsends, the Calgary Stampede is so much more than a midway mix of corn dogs and thrill rides. The annual event is a celebration of their way of life and their family’s heritage, a showcase of what they live every day.

Siblings Dakota and Wacey Townsend are the sixth generation of their family to show cattle at the Stampede (although Dakota did make her debut in the miniature donkey arena when she was a mere 18 months old).

“It’s bred into us,” Dakota Townsend, 20, said of the yearly pilgrimage from Sylvan Lake, Alta. to the Stampede grounds. “I like everything about it, from competing to socializing in the barns to promoting agriculture.”

Dakota and her brother Wacey were two of the more than 245 competitors who took part in the International Youth Livestock Supreme Championship and Scholarships. The event is a partnership between the Stampede and Olds College. With the support of Alberta 4-H and Alberta Junior Beef Breed Association, a large integrated competition called Summer Synergy took place at Olds Regional Exhibition July 11 through July 15. More than 245 competitors from western Canada demonstrated their stewardship skills in various species classes.  

The top in their classes advanced to the Supreme Championship Final at the Stampede Sunday. In all, 55 scholarships totaling $70,000 were awarded. Wacey picked up a Supreme Champion in Purebred Beef Class for his Simmental pair, while Matthew Edward’s Simmental pair took the Supreme Champion in the Commercial Cattle Class. Cassidy Wise of  Airdrie, Alta. won the Sheep Class. Prairie McNeely of Olds, Alta. was awarded the junior title in the Herdsman Awards; Cache McIerie of Innisfail, Alta. the intermediate title; and Tyler McMurry of Rocky View, Alta. the senior.

Looking at the results sheets from past Stampedes, family names appear with regularity as the next generation take part in the agriculture-themed event.

“It’s a tradition,” Wacey said. “I just try to do better every year and raise the standards. It’s something my parents and grandparents look forward to seeing and I want to see my kids do it here one day, too.”

The Townsends raise black Angus and Semmintals on their farm. While Dakota is into Herefords, Wacey has taken a bit of a left turn. He has a herd of 100 boer goats. He started building the herd when he was nine with a loan from his grandmother. Even with all those animals on the farm, preparing the cattle for the show isn’t a task left until July, he said.

“It’s a lot of work and it’s year-round. We get up at 5 and put them back out at 10 at night,” said the 17-year-old who plans on using his scholarship winnings to fund his college tuition for welding. At this year’s event, Wacey was awarded $3,000 in scholarship, while Dakota took home $2,000.

For the full results from International Youth Livestock Supreme Championship and Scholarships, please visit

About the Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west.  The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned 10-day Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together; we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and celebrates our western heritage, cultures and community spirit.  All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.

For more information, please contact:

Kristina Barnes

Communications Manager, Western Events and Agriculture

Calgary Stampede

T. 403.261.0382

C. 403.585.4706