One of the most exciting, unique, and downright thrilling events to see at any Calgary Stampede has got to be the chuckwagon racing, with all eyes being glued to the wagons as they make their way around the bend.
It’s no wonder, then, that the drivers and their wagons go for a pretty penny when put up for auction to brands throughout the province, and the 2019 Calgary Stampede Canvas Auction was no exception.
According to a release from the Calgary Stampede, this year’s auction saw an average bid of $91,250 across the 36 wagons, resulting in a proceeds total of $3,285,000 — $47,000 more than last year.
A significant portion of that difference was due to the heated bidding war for the top pick of the night, Troy Dorchester, who went for an astounding $150,000 to Graham Construction.
For comparison, 2018’s auction saw Kurt Bensmiller take the top spot at $130,000.
“It’s wonderful to see all of these companies and groups step forward to support the iconic sport of chuckwagon racing in our community,” said Paul Kavanagh, chair of the Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon committee, in the release.
“We have a great mix of new and returning advertisers who are now preparing to celebrate with us during our annual event in July.”
A full 80% of the proceeds will be going directly towards the drivers to support their horses throughout the season.
The 20% left over goes to the prize pool, safety, and programming initiatives at the Calgary Stampede.
“It is an experience unlike any other at the Calgary Stampede,” said Kavanagh.
“We are proud to be able to host our community in this way as well as support the drivers with the care of their horses not just at the Stampede, but throughout the racing season.”
The 2017 Stampede chuckwagon canvas auction brought in $2,420,000, 2016 saw $2,420,000, and 2015 was at $2,782,000 — a start contrast to the years prior to the Alberta recession, which included a record total of $4,015,000 in 2012.
The years that followed were also some of the best on record, with 2014 bringing in $3,542,500 and 2013 seeing $3,605,000.
The most recent auctions in 2018 and 2019 both broke above $3 million once again (and appear to be rising), which is a good omen for Alberta’s economy overall.