The Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo, exhibition, and festival held every July, in Calgary, Alberta. The 10-day event dubbed "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth" attracts more than one million visitors and features the world's largest rodeo, a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuckwagon racing and First Nations exhibitions. 


Come hell or high water Calgary Stampede undeterred by flood

CALGARY – As determined as a cowboy is to stay on a bucking bronco for eight seconds, so too are the organizers of the Calgary Stampede to hold the 101st annual Calgary Stampede for 10 days, despite the recent flood damage on the grounds. 

As Stampede president and board chairman Bob Thompson said in the news this week: “We will be hosting the greatest show on Earth, come hell or high water.” 

Nobody ever minded a bit of mud on his or her cowboy boots. Even though there’s bound to be a bit more than previous years, the Calgary Stampede is undeterred by the recent flood of the century in Calgary and area this year.

Even if the 10-day event is scaled back, it’s not too early to bust out your cowboy boots, dial the radio to country music and practise your “Yaaaa Hoooo!” It’s time to get ready for the biggest annual festival in Alberta.

Going on 101 years you’d think the gig could get stale. Au contraire. New contestants in the rodeo, music, food, events and the chance to meet new people keep the event a “must-do” on every July calendar.

It wouldn’t be the Calgary Stampede without the rodeo

It all starts with the rodeo with a total prize of over $2 million. It’s the ultimate country festival celebrating everything cowboy. And the Calgary Stampede does it in a big way. Every afternoon there’s the rodeo show and come evening the thundering chuckwagon races are competing for money on the track. Showdown Sunday has the best cowboys, cowgirls, horses, bulls and chuckwagons competing for the go-for-broke showdown for the grand prize of $100,000 in each event.

A little bit country, a little bit KISS

The Calgary Stampede brings in some big names every year, including this year the Dixie Chicks and Tim McGraw, which are both already sold out.  With the Scotiabank Saddledome hard hit by the flood it’s still unknown if and where these shows will be held. While the Chicks and McGraw will get your cowboy boots a tapping, expect an eclectic gathering when KISS takes the stage. That’s right – KISS – as in Mr. Simmons and the gang. With a blockbuster career of over 40 years wearing crazy make-up, do you suppose they have ever played wearing cowboy hats? There’s always a first.

More music is planned at Nashville North, which began 11 years ago when they pitched the big white tent on the midway for the first time. Since then it has won the Canadian Country Music Festival of the Year twice. If you like to two-step until the cows come home, this is where you need to be. Each evening offers a different headliner. From artists like Chad Brownlee and Dallas Smith to country music legends like The Kentucky Headhunters and Bill Anderson. Chart-topping newcomers, Small Town Pistols and Friday Night Satellites will also bring an exciting energy to the Nashville North stage. Doc Walker will bring down the house on July 14. You can’t buy advanced tickets; this is a very popular get-here-early-stay-late event you don’t want to miss.

The Coca-Cola Stage also hosts free shows all day long with concerts in the evening. 

Festival of arts, crafts, quilts and more at the Western Oasis

Enjoy the country fair – kicked up a notch. The Western Oasis is away from the hub-bub of the midway and the dirt-filled rodeo arena. There you can find a kaleidoscope of creativity. Art and artists, music and musicians, food, and wine all mingle in a garden setting.  Stroll through and visit with the presenters or sit back and watch as chef’s dual for the top chef award. Dozens of world-class agricultural events are in the agricultural buildings, too.

Deep-fried bubble gum or bacon, anyone?

The Calgary Stampede just can’t leave those deep fryers alone. Over the off-season someone is scouring the world looking for unique things to dip into the fat. This year expect to choke those arteries with deep fried double bacon wrapped corndogs with a side order of deep fried banana and bacon. Order up some veggies – chocolate dipped jalapenos. And if you like to chew gum, don’t forget the deep-fried bubble gum.

Does the Stampede do this on purpose? Apparently so.

“There is something new for every Stampede foodie, from delightful international flavours like flautas de pollo to downright daring offerings like pickle shooters,” says James Radke, operations manager, midway programming. “After nearly doubling our Centennial list of new foods, this year’s spread is not for the faint of heart.”

Don’t despair, other choices can be found anywhere in the park including on food trucks. From July 11-13, a fleet of 18 food trucks will be cruizin’ the park. Each night six will put the brakes on at the Food Truck Rally in the agricultural zone.

Stampede Caravan wraps up with free pancakes.

The Calgary Stampede is not just an event, it takes over the entire city. Everyone is a cowpoke for 10 days.

To spread the spirit, the Stampede Caravan has been a roving festival of free music, entertainment and pancakes around the city for more than 85 years. Every morning during the Stampede, big red semi trucks pull into one or two parking lots throughout the city with Rodeo cowboys mascots, the Stampede Queens, petting zoos and music to go along with the flapjacks and all the trimmings. Little kids love the chance to chow down on pancakes at the scaled down festival.

Story links:

Stay up to date with the Calgary Stampede website 

Breakfast list for the caravans 

Coca Cola Stage lineup and other musical events

Be sure to check out the FestivalSeekers calendar for information on more rodeos around the province.