Not letting the rain and the bad economy get in the way of a yahooing good time, the Calgary Stampede waved goodbye to another successful year and went out with a bang last night.

Boasting a record-setting attendance on Friday with 154,965 visitors strolling through the gates, which is almost 10,000 more than the previous record set in 2008, the Calgary Stampede managed to surpass 1.2 million visitors despite adversity, according to Stampede president Dr. David Chalack.

“The five days of weather we had to start with was pretty discouraging ... but we have been catching up since then. Given the economy and the weather, this has been an explosion of attendance,” Chalack said.

When asked about a potential 40,000 visitor drop in attendance, Chalack called the number “meagre.”

“That’s such a small number against a tidal wave of adversity, the economy, the weather. Our attendance is more impacted by weather than anything else ... but Calgarians have supported us,” he said, adding visitors enjoyed more than $3 million in free entertainment this year.

Calgarian Ben Rowlandson said he has lived in the city his whole life and still attends the Calgary Stampede every single year.

“It’s always a lot of fun, and even though I have been many times, it’s still something I just have to do,” he said while toting his six-year-old son alongside him.

However, the 10-day festival wasn’t without its controversy after three horses and a steer had to be put down after participating in the rodeo.

As rodeo protesters campaigned outside of the park gates, Chalack said the Calgary Stampede takes animal welfare very seriously.

“Nothing breaks my heart more,” he said. “If you think as a cat owner or dog owner you have more sensitivity or care than me a horse a cow or a steer — you’re wrong.”

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