It was certainly a surprise when we heard the Calgary Stampede was dropping the World Championship Blacksmiths’ Competition after 35 years. Not only was this decision a surprise to the farrier community, but it also was also a shock to the blacksmith competition organizers who had not suspected the elimination of this valuable learning experience.

A few weeks ago, we added Jeff Cota as an Associate Editor to the American Farriers Journal staff. Among his first assignments was to dig into what was happening with the Calgary Stampede situation. His two in-depth articles describing the situation can be viewed here:

Jeff’s reporting revealed that top officials at the Calgary Stampede didn’t see the blacksmith competition fitting into their future plans for this event. And the fact that the world championship each year took up a lot of space and drew less than 100 competitors meant it didn’t rank high on the list of essential Stampede events. As a result, this summer’s competition will be the last one at Calgary.

This event has served a valuable purpose by allowing top farriers from around the world to compete against one another each summer in Calgary. Those who were part of the Calgary experience over the past 35 years say it was an incredible experience.

There is no doubt that forging competitions — at all levels from local to worldwide — continue to serve as an incredible educational experience.

For a dozen years from 2000 to 2011, American Farriers Journal partnered with the Calgary Stampede World Championship Blacksmiths’ Competition in sponsoring a unique mail-in forging educational program. Any farrier in the world could forge a specific specimen shoe, mail it to Calgary and have it critiqued by the Calgary Stampede judges.

It was a great way for a farrier to have his work judged on an international level without having to make the trip to Calgary. It was a great learning experience for farriers.

In the aftermath of the unfortunate decision to drop the 35-year-old event at Calgary, there have been discussions on finding a way to continue the world blacksmith championships. Numerous conversations are going on, but time will tell whether the continuation of this competition becomes a reality.

Let’s hope this valuable worldwide farrier competition is somehow able to continue. It’s already been proven to be an important aspect of farrier education around the world.