Preview: The Grandstand Show promises fireworks on stage and above this year

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As producer of the Calgary Stampede’s Grandstand Show, Mark Erikson is responsible for making sure the entertainment extravaganza really is grand, year after year.

“With our 2024 edition of the Grandstand Show, we’re challenging everyone, including the audience, to live life in the fast lane. Every act is a gasp act, cheer act, and an eye opener. It will be one hour of non-stop thrills, on the stage, and above it. All our artists are the kind you have to see to believe,” says Erikson.

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The Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show includes musical guests, acrobats, the Young Canadians, and of course, a huge fireworks display. Courtesy, Calgary Stampede Photo by Chris Bolin Photography Inc /cal

“Our fireworks finale is always the spectacular punctuation mark to the evening, but this year we’ve got beautiful mayhem planned for the end of the show, because we’re adding the Hunter Brothers, and they are a country music fireworks all their own.”

No stranger to large venues and raucous crowds, Ty Hunter, the youngest of five siblings from Saskatchewan, says performing in the Grandstand Show is a daunting honour.

“The Stampede is such a historic event where everything is larger than life, especially the fireworks at the Grandstand Show. We’ve performed at Nashville North twice now, and one or two of us would always sneak over to watch the fireworks when we could. Now we’re going to be a part of it. My wife is from Airdrie, and she keeps reminding me what an honour it is to be a part of the Grandstand Show.”

Getting their audiences to line dance has become integral to the Hunter Brothers’ shows.

“We’re going to see if we can actually get the whole Grandstand audience to line dance. You don’t have to be a great dancer to get in on the fun. Dancing is not a Hunter Brothers’ forte. Several of us have two left feet, and the others are awkward, but we manage to stumble around, usually in unison.”

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Hunter promises what the band has in store for the Grandstand finale is “one hundred per cent high energy. We’re bringing all our bells and whistles with us.”

He says his brothers swore him to secrecy as to which of their hit songs they’ll be performing but hints they are ones that lend themselves to a lot of pyrotechnics.

He also promises they will do their signature backflip routine. “Two of us do the flip at each performance. Which two depends on whose knees are feeling best that night.”

Erikson says he’s planned “the grandest of entrances for these boys. It should get the crowds roaring.”

Young Canadians
The 2024 Stampede Grandstand Show includes the Young Canadians and others. Courtesy, Calgary Stampede cal

The show will open with The Young Canadians in a spectacular version of Let Me Entertain You, and Erikson promises “that’s precisely what the 110 members of the troupe will do throughout the evening, and what each act that follows will most definitely do.”

When Erikson saw the aerial cradle act of Dani & Jose, he knew this international trapeze duo had to be part of the show. “Jose is like a human trapeze suspended in the air, and Dani swings from him. It’s definitely a gasp act especially when she does summersaults and lets go of his hands for a moment.”

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Erikson was impressed when he saw Boston Dynamic’s robot dog named Spot and knew there had to be a way to marry technology and entertainment.

“Spot and his friends have been programmed to dance. Our stage is going to sing along with the robots. To make it even more spectacular, our drone fleet with be performing in the air, so it is going to appear as if the music is coming from the sky. We are super proud of how we have combined all these technologies.  There’s never been an act like this before.”

The Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show includes musical guests, acrobats, and the Young Canadians. Courtesy, Calgary Stampede Photo by Ben Dartnell /cal

Tammy FireFly is another aerial artist, but she performs with fire batons.  Erikson says FireFly “is known as the human fireworks. She performs in the air with jets of fire below her. She has created a star she performs on that literally bursts apart in fireworks. It’s absolutely dazzling.”

Erikson says just when the audience thinks nothing could top what they’ve just witnessed, an enormous metal globe will make its way onto the stage to herald the arrival of The Urias Globe of Death Daredevils.

“This family of daredevil motorcycle riders have been performing in this globe designed by their great-grandfather for generations.  They are brothers and cousins who have been performing since childhood, and the company features female riders, a rarity for such acts. To make it even more breathtaking, one person will stand in the middle of the globe as the others zoom around them. We’re putting cameras inside the globe so the audience will feel as if they are riding with them. It’s heart-pumping action,” says Erikson.

He emphasizes that “this year’s Grandstand Show is wholly made in Calgary. From the first note of music to the last blast of fireworks, we made it all here in Calgary. It’s just a little over an hour packed with rock, grit, country, and nostalgia. In the true Calgary spirit, it’s a wild ride of dust and dazzle.”

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