Calgary Stampede Showband crowned international class champions in Indiana

Competing in the Drum Corps International Championships for the very first time, the Calgary Stampede Showband has been named international class champions.

The showband is sharing the Stampede spirit at the Drum Corps International Championships

140 members of this year's Calgary Stampede Showband competed in the renowned Drum Corps International championships for the first time. They won first place in the international open class championship. (Jeff MacIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Last week, the Calgary Stampede Showband drove down to Indiana to compete in the Drum Corps International (DCI) Championships for the first time — the world stage for marching ensembles.

On Tuesday night, they were named international class champions in Marion, Indiana, launching them to the world championship in Indianapolis on Thursday.

"The organization has worked really hard to get to this point and put in a lot of hours, not only in rehearsal, but in design and bringing together the right membership," said showband instructor, Josh Malate.

"Bringing those members and those students along to get to this point has been really incredible."

Josh Malate has been the Calgary Stampede Showband's instructor for six years. (Submitted by Calgary Stampede Foundation)

Bria Laurendeau is a colour guard for the Stampede Showband. As part of her role, which she describes as "dance-related," she uses equipment like flags and rifles to better tell the show's storyline.

She says there's a strong culture of the marching arts in the U.S. and it's been amazing to be recognized as the international class champions — especially because their competitions have been stalled during the pandemic.

"It's cool to see other people acknowledge how much hard work that we've put into our shows. Just seeing it all pay off has been really rewarding as a member," said Laurendeau.

She says since June, the showband has been practicing for 12 hours a day to prepare for this competition.

Band committee member and mother of a former band member Tesha Kazakoff says she's loved seeing the members be rewarded for their hard work after pushing through the heat and exhaustion this week.

"Everybody came off the field and they were hugging and crying. It was a really heartwarming experience," said Kozakoff.

Next steps

The Stampede Showband was the only ensemble in the international class who made it to Indianapolis for the DCI's biggest competition — the DCI World Championship.

Bria Laurendeau has been a member of the Calgary Stampede Showband for four years. (Submitted by Calgary Stampede Foundation)

The band competed on Thursday, but did not make it to the next round. They finished 26 of 35 ensembles.

Still, Laurendeau says participating in the international competition has been life-changing.

"It's been honestly something that I'll remember for the rest of my life," she said. "It allows me to have an outlet to do something that I'm passionate about every single day and create new relationships that will probably last me the rest of my life."

The Stampede Showband heads back home from Indianapolis on Sunday morning.

Until then, they'll be competing in the SoundSport International Music & Food Festival, where they'll compete against approximately 10 other ensembles.

The showband's drumline will also be competing against approximately 10 other drumlines for the DrumLine Battle Festival today.