This year’s edition of the Calgary Stampede gets going today.
It will be the last in the 50-year chuckwagon racing career of Grande Prairie’s Kelly Sutherland.
“(It’s) kind of surreal. I’m sure it’ll be different as every event I attend. I have a lot of fans that I don’t know that approach me after the races and reminisce over different times that I was racing and where they had viewed me. I think it’ll be a very busy schedule for me this year.”
He says it is fun to hear the old stories.
“What I have discovered is that there’s certainly a strong fan base that follow the sport and they follow it diligently on media and on social media a lot now and in attendance at a number of events.”
Sutherland says he first started going to Stampede as a 14-year-old, working for Dave Lewis and first raced there in 1969.
We asked him what he remembers the most from that first time.
“One of the things was the number of people. There was always 20,000 to 30,000 fans witnessing the races every night. I think it was the sheer numbers that were following the event.”
Sutherland has won a dozen Stampede titles, the first coming in 1974 when he was 17-years-old. He will retire after this season, his 50th racing wagons.