The 2024 Calgary Stampede Princess, Brooke Fielding and the 2024 Calgary Stampede First Nations Princess, Margaret Holloway, have more in common than just a title and a crown.
The young women both credit their families and fond memories of the Calgary Stampede that have made their title all the more meaningful and special.
22-year-old Holloway, whose reign as the Stampede First Nations Princess officially begins on January 1, 2024, when the 2023 First Nations Princess, Alayiah Wolf Child, will pass the crown to Holloway. A jingle dancer raised in the traditional ways of the Stoney values, she is the granddaughter of long-time and respected Elders and Tipi Holders, Eddie and Elsie Holloway.
"My grandmother had a very big role in my life. She taught me a lot about family traditions; [traditions] that we still practice every day, like dancing Powwow and even speaking my native tongue," Holloway said.
Holloway's peer and fellow Stampede Princess, Brooke Fielding, a former Miss Rodeo Airdrie (2019 to 2021) also has a very special connection to her grandparents whom she honoured.
"It was in the final part of the competition; we got to create our own riding patterns on the horses we'd drawn. I had drawn blue and I picked a song that was a violin piece that my grandfather used to play when I was very, very little," she explained. "It was really special for me because I hadn't told any of my family members what song it was going to be. When it came on, I know my mom was probably in tears, because that meant a lot to her."
Fielding started riding on her family’s acreage in Water Valley at just eight years old. She has experience in both Western and English disciplines, having competitively shown in jumping, dressage, and eventing. She is also no stranger to the Stampede, having been part of the Calgary Stampede Ranch Girls and the Calgary Stampede Showriders.
Both princesses said that the moment of their crowning announcement was one filled with many emotions. For Holloway, there is one particular moment that is not only emotional but deeply rooted in tradition.
"If you noticed [during the crowning ceremony] when they placed the blanket over me, they also gave me a slight push forward, which in our culture signifies my next chapter in life and the start of my new journey for the upcoming year," Holloway said.
When asked to think back to their favourite childhood memories of Stampede, both princesses agreed that Stampede memories are centred around family.
"My family, every single year at Stampede, since I was very little; I can remember, we would get up at 4 a.m. and drive from the country into the city," Fielding said. "We would set up for the parade and always get hot chocolate. My sister and I would get so excited to watch all of the horses and all of the royalty go by and pick the favourite horse that we love."
And as for her goal as a princess? She hopes to share her experiences and passion for Western heritage, culture and community spirit with people from all walks of life.
Holloway also fondly remembers her family time and Stampede.
"It's a very, very fond memory of being a child at the old Elbow River Camp location [where] my grandparents were still the tipi owners. At the end of each day, we all came together and watched the fireworks together," she said. "It always stuck with me as my favourite part of the whole 10 days; that moment where we all got together and just I got to settle into my late grandpa's lap and just watch the fireworks."
Fielding and Holloway will attend hundreds of events throughout 2024, including during The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
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