GET IN THE STAMPEDE SPIRIT
Everything kicks off on July 7 with the Stampede Parade, which features more than 150 western-themed entries, including 30 marching bands, 40 floats, 750 horses and 4,000 participants. Arrive early to get a good vantage point.
RODEO AND GRANDSTAND SHOW
The skill of the competitors and the quality of the bulls and steers at the Stampede Rodeo are among the best in the world, making for non-stop, edge-of-your-seat action. Events range from breakneck barrel racing to heart-pounding saddle bronc, bareback, and bull riding. Every win builds towards the finale at Showdown Sunday on July 16. Daytime rodeo gives way to thrilling chuckwagon races in the evening, followed by the Grandstand Show with spectacular song and dance numbers, acrobatics, and nightly fireworks.
Stampede clearly embraces its country roots, and that applies to the music as well—the Nashville North stage has hosted many of country music’s most beloved superstars. This year, watch for Chad Brownlee (Jul 6), Aaron Goodvin (Jul 7), Neal McCoy (Jul 9), and Doc Walker (Jul 11) among many others. It’s not all boot-stompin’ and Southern twangs, though—if your musical taste leans towards rock and alternative, head to the Coca-Cola Stage for acts such as Theory of a Deadman (Jul 8), Nelly Furtado (Jul 10), Marianas Trench (Jul 11), and July Talk (Jul 16). If that’s not enough, the Virgin Mobile Stampede concert series will host legends Johnny Reid (Jul 12), Brooks & Dunn (Jul 13), Alabama (Jul 14), and Usher & the Roots (Jul 15) at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Those who come to the Calgary Stampede expecting “all rodeo, all the time” are in for a surprise when they see the size and scope of the midway. Spin, twirl, twist, and loop your way through adrenaline-inducing rides, test your wits and hand-eye coordination on games of skill and chance, and slow it down for a ride on the giant Ferris wheel that offers an amazing view of the grounds.
Mini donuts and beef on a bun are staples, but every year food vendors outdo themselves to offer the most mouth-watering—or dareworthy—concoctions. Leave room for delicacies such as deep fried Jell-O, a metre-long sausage, unicorn white hot chocolate topped with rainbow sours and blanketed in cotton candy, and pizza infused with Carolina reapers, the Guinness World Record’s hottest pepper.
The Calgary Stampede (July 7 - 16, page 40) is simply not to be missed, from the pageantry of the opening parade to the spectacular display of fireworks on the final night. Don your cowboy hat and get ready for the “greatest outdoor show on Earth.”