20 Mar 2012

2012 Calgary Stampede Canvas Auction

Author: robbleece | Filed under: Uncategorized

Here is a story by Mario Toneguzzi from the Calgary Herald

A welcome reminder that the Calgary Stampede is within sight, the annual chuckwagon canvas auction has become known as a reliable measure of the Calgary economy. And if early interest bears out, the city is in good shape.

“The auction is always a bellwether of what Calgary, and for that matter the Alberta economy, is doing. And we are really, really pleasantly surprised,” said Mark Damm, chairman of the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon committee.

“There seems to be a general uptick in a lot of the sectors. And because it’s the (Stampede’s) Centennial and the significance of that event . . . there’s a lot of new players coming to the auction.”

Since 1990, companies have paid millions to sponsor drivers participating in the GMC Rangeland Derby held during the 10-day Stampede.

This year’s auction takes place March 29 at Stampede Park.

Last year, the auction raised $2.84 million, or an average bid of about $79,000. Kelly Sutherland, known as “King Kelly” in chuckwagon circles, drew the top tarp bid of $170,000 from YaYa

Sutherland, who’s collected a record 12 Rangeland Derby wins, is no stranger to top-dollar bids. The $210,000 paid for his team in 2008 remains a record. The best take from one auction was $4 million in 2007.

“Now, whether or not a record is in reach or not, I think 2007 was an real aberration,” Damm said. “It was just all the variables fit into play that one particular night. We had a bunch of new bidders in the room and that bid everybody up.

“I don’t think it’s realistic to be shooting for that. But are we going to be top five, maybe even top three, auction that we’ve ever had? Absolutely. It’s looking really positive.”

Damm said he expects 240 to 260 registered bidders for the March 29 auction.

Damm said a number of companies have formed consortiums, thinking the cost of a wagon this year could get out of reach for some.

“What we did a few years ago is we changed up our rules and allowed up to 10 entities to own a particular canvas,” he said. “That caught on slowly, but it’s really picking up steam and we’ve started to see more advertisers going together.”

Lorraine Jones, president of the Chickwagon! Foundation for Women, said the organization has sponsored chuck-wagon tarps for 13 years.

The expectation this year, the Stampede’s 100th, is that the bid floor will be crowded, said Jones, whose Rangeland Derby partner the past six years has been Heninger Toyota.

“It was interesting last year. There were a lot of new corporations that bought tarps and a lot of the tarp owners that had bought for years and years before were not present. The tarp auction is always really interesting.”

That’s especially true for the drivers.

“I’m hoping that we can break an all-time record, but whether that happens I don’t know,” Sutherland said. “I’d be very happy with an increase of some sort over last year, which was an increase over the year before.

“Certainly if you sell high, there’s added pressure. . . . I hope there’s people there with some big budgets.”

Chuckwagon driver Jason Glass said he expects good numbers from this month’s auction.

“With the Centennial and the Calgary Stampede working very hard to promote the Centennial year, it’s going to be exciting,” he said.

David Finch, an assistant professor of marketing at the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University, said the canvas auction is about status and prestige for sponsors, rather than a consumer-oriented investment.

“It’s all about building equity amongst a very targeted audience as opposed to a traffic-driving type of promotion,” Finch said.

“When you look at the type of organizations that invest in it, it’s a very targeted investment. It really talks about commitment to the community, commitment to the tradition and the history of the Stampede.”

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