Calgary

Expect bag checks at Calgary Stampede gates, warn officials as safety steps laid out

'Please, leave your pocket knives, nail files and anything else that might be considered a weapon at home'

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Midway food is just one feature of the Calgary Stampede that draws hundreds of thousands of people to the city each summer. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)

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Security at the Calgary Stampede will be a bit tighter this year with the introduction of bag searches at the entry gates, officials say. 

Calgary Stampede officials teamed up with police, fire, medical and other emergency agencies Tuesday to lay out the measures they're taking to make sure visitors and workers at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth have a safe and fun time on the grounds. 

Jim Laurendeau, the Stampede's vice-president of events and park services, said the main difference people will notice this year is bag searches.

"In 2017, all guests will be subject to search before coming into Stampede Park," he said. 

"Please, leave your pocket knives, nail files and anything else that might be considered a weapon at home."

Laurendeau said if it wouldn't be allowed at the airport, it shouldn't come to the Stampede grounds.

The Stampede has checked bags in the past, but this year all visitors entering the park will pass through a security tent. Checks will be done visually and with metal detection wands.

Traffic control changed for parade

The 10-day Stampede kicks off Friday with the annual parade through downtown Calgary.

Calgary Police Service Insp. Leah Barber, commander for police resources at the Stampede, said another change this year affects how traffic is controlled around the parade route.

"In the past what we've done, as the last float went by, we would open those streets," she said. "And we found it was a bit chaotic downtown, where you had people sort of in and out, and the parade was still going."

This year, the entire route will remain completely blocked off until the parade is over, Barber said.

Hot Stampede in forecast 

Temperatures for the first few days of the Stampede are forecast to be in the high 20s to the low 30s, prompting a reminder from EMS spokesman Stuart Brideaux to be sun smart — especially parents.

"Little bodies just don't tolerate the heat and sun as well an adult," he said.

Parents should remember to offer children juice and water before they ask for it, and families should pace themselves as they roam the midway, ducking into air-conditioned buildings from time to time.

"Our basic message is always the same. A little bit of planning goes a long way," he said. 

Brideaux said it will be important this year to wear plenty of sunscreen, and if you're indulging in lots of alcohol, balance it with lots of water.

Calgary Fire Department spokesperson Carol Henke said safety codes officers will be on the grounds, making sure everyone from food vendors to fireworks technicians are complying with all safety regulations. 

"We are confident that we are ready for Stampede 2017," she said.

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