July 22, 2019
In July, pancakes are flipped, the stampede queen is crowned, and hotels stock their linens and prepare their staff roster for the annual Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede.
“The Medicine Hat Stampede is by far the biggest event of the year for hotel rooms,” says Elisha Ammann, executive director of the Medicine Hat Accommodation Association. “I would say there is an average of a 90% occupancy during the week with sellouts on weekends. That’s consistent, year-over-year.”
Since 1887, the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede brought together urban and rural communities. What began as a gathering of merchants and ranchers has evolved into the city’s largest annual event, drawing crowds of more than 45,000 people to the midway, professional rodeo, concerts, children’s activities and exhibition.
The most recent numbers show a record turnout of 46,656 attendees in 2016, according to the information recorded by the Medicine Hat News.
Typically, July and August are the busiest months for Medicine Hat hotels. As a midway point on the Trans-Canada Highway, Canada’s sunniest city sees bus tours from the United States and travelers passing through to eastern or western destinations in addition to festivals and tournaments.
Sporting events such as the Alberta 55 Plus Summer Provincial Games and provincial softball tournaments, fill hotel vacancies in summer months.
“Sporting events are a big draw,” says Ammann. “Sports tourism is a consistent source of rooms and travelers regardless of what’s happening in the economy.”
Indeed, hotels are investing in renovations and 230 more rooms are expected to hit the market later this year. The Braemar Group is developing 4.34 acres into a 110-room Marriott TownePlace Suites, with completion expected in mid 2019. Next door, Sun City Hotels is building a 120-suite Best Western Inn and Suites.
In the past year, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites and the Comfort Inn & Suites unveiled newly renovated properties.
The 2019 Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede runs July 24-27. Catch the schedule of events at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede website.