CALGARY, Alberta, March 20 (Reuters) - Canada's top rodeo is feeling the impact of the global oil price plunge, with bids to sponsor one of the Calgary Stampede's main events down more than 20 percent from last year.
The 103-year-old Stampede is a 10-day festival of rodeo, street parties and corporate entertainment held in Canada's oil capital every July.
Nightly chuckwagon races are among its headline events. Drivers, supported by outriders, race chuckwagons emblazoned with the logos of sponsors and pulled by a team of four horses in front of a cheering crowd of thousands.
The rights to advertise on top riders' chuckwagon canvases are sold off each spring in an auction that many in Calgary consider a barometer of economic sentiment.
This year, total bids fell 21 percent from 2014 to C$2,782,000 ($2.21 million), reflecting the mood in a city where layoffs among oil producers are mounting.
Benchmark oil prices have plunged more than half since last June due to a global supply glut, with U.S. crude last trading at just over $45 a barrel.
Despite the slide in bids, the 2015 total was still well above the C$1,692,000 bid in 2009 following the last major oil-price crash. The record auction year was 2012, the Stampede's 100th birthday, when sponsors bid C$4,015,000.
"We are pretty ecstatic that our numbers are up above where they were in 2009," said Paul Rosenberg, chief operating officer at the Calgary Stampede. "About a 20 percent drop is to be expected in challenging times."
($1 = 1.2568 Canadian dollars)
(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Alan Crosby)
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