Classic Calgary: The Calgary Stampede

Touted as the “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, the Calgary Stampede is undeniably a Calgary classic! With its roots dating back to 1886 when the Calgary and District Agricultural Society held its first fair, the first rodeo and festival was held in 1912, known as the Stampede. This became an annual event from 1923 and is arguably Calgary’s premier annual event.

The Calgary Stampede is one of the worlds’ richest rodeos and one of Canada’s biggest festivals. It is a massive tourist attraction for the city, drawing annual crowds of over 1 million visitors during its 10-day long event held in July each year.

Gary, our Mascot, got excited for Stampede 2018 overlooking Stampede Park from Scotsman Hill

The city of Calgary has become synonymous with the Stampede, having adopted the nicknames of “Stampede City” and “Cowtown”. The annual event is based at its home grounds of Stampede Park at the southeast end of downtown Calgary.

The key events of Stampede week include:

  • The Stampede Parade that takes place through the streets of downtown Calgary, is open to the public, and which marks the official opening of the Stampede;
  • The Rodeo, which is the core of the Stampede. The rodeo is made up of six major disciplines: bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie down roping, saddle bronc and bareback riding. It is also comprised of four novice events – junior steer riding, novice bareback, novice saddle bronc and wild pony racing;
  • The Rangeland Derby, featuring the ever-popular chuckwagon races;
  • The Exhibition, featuring agricultural programs and exhibitors;
  • The Midway, featuring traditional carnival rides, games and two concert stages;
  • The Market, hosting vendors selling artwork, toys, household goods, western-themed products and food;
  • The Grandstand Show, featuring live entertainment, performances and acrobatics, and wrapping up each evening with a spectacular fireworks display.
Calgary Stampede Grandstand | Photo courtesy of Bryton Udy

Stampede fever affects the entire City, with western themes dominating downtown store fronts and streets. An integral element of Stampede are the hundreds of pancake breakfasts held throughout communities and neighbourhoods across the city. These are often free and embrace the heart and heartiness of the Calgary spirit.

Bringing Gary along to a pancake breakfast – held daily during Stampede week – at Olympic Plaza

View our stop motion video revealing the Stampede grounds from 2018 on our YouTube channel here.

We also caught the C-Train to downtown Calgary and encountered the Stampede Parade en route. Check out our time lapse video of our C-Train journey and seeing some of the Parade on our YouTube channel here.

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