The frenzied rush of thundering hooves. The adrenalin charge of a bucking bronco. The savory delights of a fresh flapjack. The genuine feel of the Old West. This is The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. This is the Calgary Stampede.
If you’ve never taken advantage of the Calgary Stampede, you are truly missing out. The week-and-a-half rodeo is much more than a rodeo. It is a summer jubilee, full of fun for every age, temperament, lifestyle, and preference.
Back in 1886, several cowboys of Calgary, Alberta decided they wanted to host the continent’s best rodeo ever and attract talent from far and wide. Over 100 years later, their dream still holds true. The first visitors came on horseback and train and stayed in Conestoga wagons. Today’s visitors come by airplane and car and stay in five-star hotels.
The lively city rolls out the red carpet for the one million plus visitors who make the pilgrimage to attend the show. The ten-day celebration kicks off with a stunning parade, and the fun begins. The centrepiece of the event, a grand rodeo, is a must-see for every action enthusiast. World-class cowboys participate in the bareback bronc-riding, demonstrating their tenacity to stay on their horse. Or there is the bull riding, an activity restricted to a select steel-nerved few. The calf-roping competition, in which participants compete for the shortest time to tie down a runaway calf, is a dazzling display of speed and skill. In steer wrestling, the daring cowboy must drop from a running horse, to a bucking steer, and wrangle the careening steer to the ground. Every event is a jaw-dropping marvel, sure to keep you enthralled.
But the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is far more than a rodeo. The Midway is a veritable theme park, boasting the best rides, shows, attractions, and eating available. On the midway, you may wish to gain a dizzying view of the celebration from the Ferris wheel, try your hand at wild-cow milking, venture a risk at the Stampede Casino, take your fill of sizzling corndogs, or just sit back and enjoy the world-renowned fireworks show at night.
Everyone remembers the Chuckwagon Races, one of the Calgary Stampede’s best-known competitions. The historical western food wagon, known as a chuckwagon, is loaded up with a stove, cooking implements, barrels, etc., and raced in a twisting figure-eight pattern. This nail-biting, heart-jumping race is both exciting–and humorous–and something that one-time visitors find themselves yearning to see again.
If it’s a taste of the Old West you crave, you will not be disappointed. Calgary’s re-creation of Old West towns will show you what life was really like back in the Wild West. Watch out! You may have to duck for cover in case a gun-slinging fight breaks out between a wrangling bunch and the local vigilantes. The Indian villages, reconstructed in the Calgary Stampede, also provide an accurate picture of how the Native Americans lived in early America. Peek into a tepee, or examine Indian artwork as you stroll through an Indian camp.
Calgary Stampede provides some of the best music around. Professional musicians converge from around the world to perform and please the crowds at the festival. You may want to view the livestock shows, or check out the blacksmith’s competition. If you’re in the mood for the skill of an illusionist, or up for the feel of a hypnotist’s powers, you’ll not be disappointed. Want to buy something the Old-West way? Enjoy the speedy thrill of an auction.
Whatever it is you’re seeking, it can be found at the Calgary Stampede. Check out how you can get involved in the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.