Wagon races, corn dogs, cowboy hats and live music, it’s the 70’s all over again.
The Calgary Stampede is a glorious celebration of the western lifestyle. The Stampede is ten days of parades, food shows, late night fireworks and some other really great exhibitions. Quite aptly, the festival is known as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
Founder Guy Weadick had a very simple idea. To capture the western culture and all it’s fantastic aspects into a grand celebration. Started up in the Calgary in 1912, the Stampede is the kind of place where munching on corn dogs while wearing an all-white cowboy suit and repeating ‘Hey all y’all’ is perfectly normal. Let’s look into what makes this festival so awesome!
You read that right. The Stampede happens to be one of the biggest festivals that the city hosts and everybody gets free breakfast. Local malls, cafes and most famously the Chinook Shopping Centre Stampede are known for their delicious morning grub. The Chinook Shopping Centre is the biggest amongst them all. Held on the second day of the fair every year, the breakfast is a royal affair with pancakes, sausages, coffee and loads of drinks. In fact, the number of pancakes served is so high that they usually use a cement mixer to mix the batter.
They have some of the most entertaining events
The festival is a riot of fun with all kinds of events from bareback bull riding and steer wrestling to amusement park rides and livestock shows. The parade is the official start to the Stampede with a procession of horses, mounted police, more than 150 floats and traditional Native American dance. The stampede is also quite influenced by the Native American culture and you can see traces of it throughout the parade. What’s a rodeo without a competition? More than $1 million is doled out on the championship day, and each individual event champion takes home more than $100,000 in prize money.
The craziest event has to be the exhilarating chuck wagon races. Four horses, one rider and a tented waggon race three other teams around a track where a lot can go wrong—and it has (there have been fatalities for both riders and horses). Make sure you get your tickets on time because this also happens to the most popular event here. They also happen to have some seriously great musical lineups and this year they’ve got Garth Brooks, Katy Perry, Keith Urban and Reba coming in to perform.
It’s completely family friendly
The Stampede is a massive event. This year’s parade lineup features 125 bands and floats, which includes 4,000 people and 700 horses. On average, about 100,000 people visit a day and the numbers are expected to go even further up this year. Mostly, the festival sees a lot of families come down for the kind of wholesome experience that you can’t get anywhere else. They have great rides for kids, some of which that teenagers have been known to enjoy as well. You can also catch the beautiful late night fireworks, that take place right after the wagon races.
The food is to die for
If not for anything, GO TO THE FESTIVAL FOR THE FOOD. At Calgary Stampede, you’ll find every kind of food imaginable, from Texas BBQ to Scorpion pizza. That’s right, pizza with farm raised scorpions sprinkled on top ($10 a slice). They also have pretty much anything that can be deep fried, deep fried. From deep fried sushi to deep fried butter. Yes, BUTTER!
And last, but obviously not the least
The parade is chaotic and loud and colourful and an experience you need to have. The parade starts on the first day itself, so plan your schedule out accordingly. It starts at 9 am and lasts for 2 hours. It takes an hour to complete the whole parade route, so depending on whether you are at the head or the tail of the parade route, your time can change. It’s not just a parade marching down an avenue; it’s a march through tradition, history and local Calgary culture. This year, singer-songwriter Jann Arden and Canadian country music superstar Paul Brandt will lead the Calgary Stampede Parade. Meanwhile, officials expect 200,000 spectators along the five-kilometre parade route. Officials have also assured that each float will be double checked to ensure complete safety, for the four and two-legged participants of the parade.