Late bidding war drives Stampede sponsorship auction to $3.29M bid total
CALGARY - An unexpected late bidding war for the right to sponsor veteran driver Troy Dorchester helped push the annual Calgary Stampede chuckwagon canvas auction to a $50,000 higher total return than last year.
Sponsorship bids for the 36 rigs competing at the annual summer showdown totalled $3.29 million at the end of the event, up from $3.24 million raised at the 2018 event but well short of the record of just over $4 million pledged in 2012.
The success of the annual event is considered a bellwether for the Calgary-based oil and gas industry, as many of the sponsors who pay to have their company names on the horse-drawn wagons racing in the 10-day July tribute to cowboy culture are energy industry players.
Bidder Orlene King, director of communications for Graham Construction of Calgary, says the employee-owned company wanted to sponsor Dorchester because of his reputation as a safe driver who exemplifies the sport.
She adds that although the Calgary economy has been through recent ups and downs, Graham is doing well and considers its bid of $150,000 to be an investment in the community.
The bid is higher than the top bid of $130,000 paid out to Kurt Bensmiller last year. Bensmiller, who went on to win the chuckwagon derby last year for his fourth championship in five years, tied with driver Jason Glass at Thursday night’s event with a winning bid of $120,000.
About 80 per cent of the canvas auction proceeds goes to the drivers; the rest is used for prize money, safety and other chuckwagon initiatives.