Destination is Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Get set and ready to hold on tight because this is the rodeo of all rodeos. Known as “the greatest outdoor show on earth” the Calgary Stampede is the largest rodeo globally. Attracting over 1 million visitors through the gates each year as well as being televised the Stampede is a phenomenal experience which spans over 10 days.
So where did it all begin? Founded as an exhibition in 1866 it wasn’t until 1912 that the stampede formally became a rodeo and festival. It was originally started as a way to honour the soldiers of WWI. Like any event, it has had its ups and downs. Through red tape, bureaucracy and economic downturns the Calgary Stampede has survived and gone from strength to strength.
So what are the major pull cards to this ten-day mega event? They have a parade that gets the party started. Over 150 floats, horses and stampede participants, marching bands and an honorary parade marshal kick off the start to the Calgary Stampede.
Over the ten day event are skilled competitors in bull riding, barrel riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, saddle bronc and bareback riding. Competitors that hail from all over the world gets divided into two pools that run trials over a series of days. There is the wild card Saturday for a final shot at finals and then finals to find placeholders on the last Sunday of the Stampede.
So what else is there you ask? Where do we start? There is the Rangeland Derby. The spectator sport to rival the others. Calgary Stampede has more spectators watching chuck wagon racing than any other event over the ten day period. It first appeared in 1923 as a form of entertainment and quickly gained momentum. Wagons are now heavily advertised with revenue for advertising on wagons grossing $4million. The winner’s purse alone for chuck wagon racing is $1.15 million.
But let’s not forget about the thousand or so exhibitors that are showing, demonstrating and competing as well. Drawing in 50% of the stampede crowds sees the exhibition centres busy. Not only do they keep the agricultural trade and educational learning programs alive they also compete in cutting horse events, dog trials and blacksmith horseshoeing competitions to name a few.
So where does this all actually take place you ask? Since the beginning, there has been major growth, and now Stampede Park is an almighty structure. The venues are made up of numerous grounds and buildings.
The Saddledome, Big Four Building, also a convention and exhibition centre as well as a casino. The Stampede grandstand and many other buildings that help support this huge event.
When the stampede is not on there are over 1000 events annually at Stampede Park. They range from conferences and concerts to sporting events.
When it comes to favourite destinations inside the park not many can go past the Indian Village. The five nations of the Treaty 7 have Teepees, pow wows and cultural exhibits throughout the stampede. They demonstrate and sell arts and crafts. There is a little wonder as to why this is such a popular part of the park.
Don’t just think all the amazing stuff happens in Stampede Park. No sir, there are more Stampede parties to rival Superbowl in Calgary. Throughout the city there are dozens of famous pancake breakfasts. A tradition that started back in 1923 is still going strong.
Calgary Stampede should be a must on your bucket list. This quick insight into the stampede just does not do it justice. Try and make it just once. Even if the rodeo is not your big ticket item, you will soon get swept up in the atmosphere and extravaganza that is the Stampede. Join Calgary as everyone dons jeans, check shirt and cowboy boots for ten days. They say there is nothing like it on earth that rivals the scale of this great rodeo. There truly is something for everyone.
What have you got to lose? What’s 10 days to go and visit the greatest outdoor show on earth?
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