If the annual Calgary Stampede chuckwagon canvas auction is any indication, the local economy is once again galloping along.


The annual chuckwagon tarp auction took in over $2.84 million on Thursday night. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Companies bidding for the rights to have their logos on the wagon canvases brought in $2.84 million on Thursday night — beating last year's total by about $1 million, officials said.

The tarp auction has long been seen as a barometer of Calgary's economic health, said Stampede spokesman Doug Fraser.

In 2007 the auction raised over $4 million, money the competitors use to pay their expenses in getting to races throughout the year.

"When we set that record price, that's the hottest economy we were ever in. Of course the next year it tanked — I'm not saying our chuckwagon canvas auction [tanked] — but its total was certainly well down. In the last couple of years we've seen a gradual increase," Fraser said.

This year's top bid went to driver Kelly Sutherland.

YaYa Calgary — a new internet coupon company slated to go online this spring — paid $170,000 for the right to emblazon Sutherland's chuckwagon with its logo.