The biggest outdoor party in Canada begins first Friday in July, annually, in Calgary, Alberta. The Calgary Stampede is touted as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” with stampede jubilation growing from Stampede Park and spreading out all over the city.
The first Stampede was in 1912, it is an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival that now runs for 10 days every July, rain or shine, natural disaster or not. This year was no different even with the massive flooding Calgary endured 2 weeks prior to the kick off of this years Stampede. Throughout history few Stampedes have ever been cancelled despite World Wars, The Great Depression and this year, huge overland flooding throughout the city and in Stampede park.
The Stampedes President said “We will be hosting The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth, come hell or high water”. Miraculously armies of volunteers and contractors worked tirelessly to pump lakes of flood water and move mountains of sludge to make the show happen on July 5th.
The city is transformed during the 10 days of Stampede. The best part being, visitors come from all over the world to attend the show. Calgary welcomes them with open arms the attitude being the more the merrier. The chow bell rings and free Stampede breakfasts happen all over the city every day of the exhibition. Calgary Stampede Caravan hosts traditional western covered wagon fair: scrambled eggs, sausage and flapjacks. The Caravan hosts breakfasts every day of the Stampede at different locations across the city. Local businesses host breakfasts too some with Stampede lunches or dinners instead of breakfast. There is free food and in some cases drink to be had every meal of the day during Stampede. The smell of fried food and the sweet sound of country music fill the air throughout the city.
Everyone, tourists and locals alike, dress western, donning jeans with big belt buckles, plaid shirts, cowboy hats and boots. Would be cowboys and cowgirls smile a little easier, socialize more freely and a real sense of community, western community, can be felt all over Calgary.
The start of the Stampede celebration begins with The Stampede Parade. Thousands of people line the streets to get the party started. The parade route is 2 and a half mile procession of horses, floats and bands lined with people toe tappin’ hands clappin’ and hootin’ Ya hoooo!
At Stampede park rides spin and drop, games ping and pop with lights blazing and flashing, the smell of cotton candy, corn dogs and mini donuts filling the midway. There are free and paid shows happening all around the park. Bands play on the outdoor Coca Cola stage, Super Dogs race and preform, entertainers fly high under a big top. There are hundreds of animals in the Agricultural buildings to interact with and learn about. So much to see and do.
We visited the Stampede on “kids day”. Entry to the park was free for all kids and their families until 9 am (more money for ride tickets, awesome). There is a midway specifically for little cow pokes and Mak enjoyed riding just about every ride there!
The rodeo runs all day, every day, featuring real cowboys and cowgirls competing for some serious prize money. Rodeo events include bull riding, barrel racing,steer wrestling and wild pony racing. Chuck wagon races happen nightly with 36 drivers, 216 horses and their teams of outriders competing for over 1 million dollars in prize money! Following the Chucks at the Grand Stand Show hooves thunder, dancers delight and spectacular fire works close the park every night at Stampede Park.
The Calgary Stampede 2013 happened despite massive flooding in Calgary, and undeniably, still holds the title “The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth”. The giant carnival and rodeo has packed up until next year leaving visitors with memories of Stampede fun with family and friends new and old. Outdoor amusement parks or carnivals are one of my favorite things to visit in the summer. What’s your favorite carnival or fair you have visited while traveling?