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The Calgary Stampede, The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth

When I was 15 years old, my family moved to Calgary. It was very different from living on a beach strip my whole life. My father described Calgary as a western town, so I envisioned wooden sidewalks and horses tethered to wooden posts in front of a saloon. I was happily disappointed; Calgary is a vibrant and friendly metropolitan city that my siblings and I fell in love with quickly.

Some of the things I loved about Calgary was waking up and seeing the Rocky Mountains and being within driving distance to Banff and Lake Louise. But one event that I looked forward to each year was the Calgary Stampede. It’s their annual rodeo, exhibition and festival celebration that’s called the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. It’s packed with fun, food and unforgettable experiences.

The Calgary Stampede is called The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth for good reason. For 10 days every July, they welcome the world to a spectacular celebration of western heritage and values. And this year is going to be spectacular because we are celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday!

When the first Calgary Stampede was held in 1912, the era of the Canadian Old West had only just passed. Guy Weadick famously organized and promoted the original event, and grew the Calgary Stampede into what it is today: an annual 10-day event attracting more than one million visitors each July with rodeo competitions, chuckwagon races, a midway carnival, live music, festival events, arts and culture.

As the official kick-off to the Calgary Stampede, the annual Stampede Parade is a Calgary tradition. The two-and-a-half mile parade features beautiful floats, bands, horses, celebrities and cultural performances.

The Calgary Stampede is a gathering place for the community and the Treaty Seven Nations have been part of this community since 1912. It’s an honor to share that the seven Chiefs of the Treaty 7 Nations will be the Parade Marshals this year. The Treaty 7 Nations are comprised of three Blackfoot Confederacy Nations, three Stoney Nakoda Nations and the Tsuut’ina Nation, whose territories are in southern Alberta.

From left to right: Councillor Floyd Big Head, Representative of Chief Roy Fox Kainai/Blood Tribe, Chief Darcy Dixon – Bearspaw First Nation, Bradford Little Chief, Representative of Chief Joseph Weasel Child, David Sibbald, president & chairman, Calgary Stampede board of directors, Lowa Beebe, Representative of Chief Stanley Grier – Piikani Nation, Chief Ernest Wesley – Wesley First Nation, Chief Aaron Young – Chiniki First Nation and Chief Lee Crowchild – Tsuut’ina Nation.

This year the Calgary Stampede runs from July 7 – 16! Admission is free for kids under 7, $9 for seniors and kids ages 7 – 12, and $18 for everyone else. Check out what you can experience at the Calgary Stampede.

Rides

They’re so much to take in and see. Like any typical kid, they will be mesmerized by the midway events. They offer a variety of carnival rides for all levels of bravery.

Check out “the Great FUNteir” — it’s a whole section of park specifically for kids! All the rides are tailored just for kids.

Seniors may enjoy popular slower rides like the WestJet Skyride and the Ferris wheel.

What about the adrenaline junkies who are looking for that white-knuckle, heart-pumping exhilaration? Brace yourself! Hop on and hang on to the Crazy Mouse, Outlaw, Polar Express, Wave Swinger, or Mach 3.

Fun & Games

There’s no shortage of  Midway Games. Each game is fun and will challenge your hand-eye coordination. Just keep your eyes on the target, and you might take home an awesome prize.

Foods, Treats & Snacks

The food concessions offer some jaw-dropping flavors, from sweet to heat, they are sure to tickle your tastebuds. Some people wait all year for their favorite carnival food. Here are some dishes you’ll find this year at the Calgary Stampede — some you’ll recognize, others have been created exclusively just for them.

Corn Dogs

The humble corn dog may be the all-time favorite food on a stick. With over 81,000 sold in 2015, it’s no secret that Stampede visitors love their corn dogs! The corn dog is so much more than a hot dog on a stick. With different varieties and additions (such as bacon, jalapenos, cheese, and even poutine!) you’ll be sure to find your perfect dog.

Candy Apples

The first candy apple was made in 1908 and it has been a classic treat ever since. This crunchy and sweet treat on a stick comes in many flavours. From traditional cinnamon to blueberry the perfect candy apple is waiting for you to take a bite.

Fudge

Historians date the invention of fudge all the way back to 1886, which means this classic fair treat is even older than the Calgary Stampede! On the Midway, you can find 25 different flavours of homemade fudge. From classic chocolate to exotic jalapeno lime the Calgary Stampede Midway has it all!

Deep Fried Jell-O

Just when you thought it couldn’t be deep fried… they did it! Each ball is stuffed with Jell-O then deep fried, and sprinkled with a sweet powdered sugar!

World’s Hottest Pizza

This pizza is HOT. Infused with Carolina Reaper peppers, this pizza will have you running for a glass of water. Think you can handle the heat?

Cereal Monster Sandwiches

This ice cream sandwich was made to be legendary! With a monster portion of ice cream, crushed between two cereal infused marshmallow squares, the size is second to the taste!

Agriculture Shows

After chowing down your favorite foods, mosey on over to the Agrium Centre and check out some adorable livestock. There are lots of agricultural shows to take in as well; Heavey Horse Show, Miniature Donkey Showcase, Blacksmith Showcase & Classic, Agrium Ag-tivity in the City, Draft Horse Town, Sheep Shearing many others.

Rodeo Events Yeehaw!

The Grandstand is where all the rodeo action takes place. They have Barrel Racing, Calf Roping, Bull Riding, Chuckwagon Racing, and several more. The caliber of a rodeo comes down to two things: the skill of the competitors and the quality of the horses, bulls and steers. The Stampede Rodeo features the world’s best competitors and animals. Every afternoon at 1:15 cowboys and cowgirls face off in a furious display of skill and grit, with every win building towards Showdown Sunday—Rodeo’s Richest Afternoon.

Each night’s rodeo event is followed by the TransAlta Grandstand Show starring musical performances and a spectacular fireworks show. What a way to end a day at the Calgary Stampede!

Today the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth remains a treasured link to the history and a celebration of rodeo and agriculture. With professional rodeo as its signature experience, the Calgary Stampede also features a vast array of arts and agricultural exhibits, musical performances, intriguing cuisine, shopping, and an extensive midway of rides and games. The captivating experience is unrivaled for variety and excitement. The Stampede spirit consumes the city and it’s a blast to be part of it. Join us this year!

Disclaimer: All photos are courtesy of the Calgary Stampede.

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