The 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede (also known as “the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”) is being celebrated this year (July 6th to 15th). The Stampede is an annual 10 day rodeo and fair that is attended by people from around the globe. It is likely this event that helps perpetuate the “Cowtown” nickname for Calgary because everyone’s inner cowboy or cowgirl comes out for the Stampede. Oh yeah, and we get some genuine cow-folk as well.
Only during the Stampede can I look in my rearview mirror while driving through downtown Calgary and see a galloping horse being ridden by a Brazilian Cowboy barreling towards me, escorted by a police motorcade (naturally).
I didn’t know this at the time, but Filipe Leite, is planning to spend the next two years of his life riding a horse 16,000 km from Calgary, Canada to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Filipe’s journey is intended to educate people about animal rights, and will be recorded for a documentary.
The Stampede kicks off with a parade. The parade marshal is generally a celebrity, politician, or other public figure. This year, the parade marshal was iconic country music singer Ian Tyson. To commemorate the 100th birthday of the Stampede, seven other marshalls (from the Treaty Seven Nations) joined Ian Tyson. The parade also included marching bands, horses, clowns, floats, dancers, etc.
The primary element that sets the Calgary Stampede apart from other fairs is the rodeo, which includes bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, calf roping, chuck wagon races, and bareback riding. Our very own troch used to work for the Canadian Rodeo News, and snapped these awesome rodeo photos in the 1970s:
On the fairgrounds, you’ll also find deliciously fried foods, challenging games, and of course thrilling rides. The Coke Stage hosts a number of pop-cultures top performers, including K’Naan, Our Lady Peace, The Sheepdogs, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Simple Plan. While the country music fans can watch performers like Hey Romeo, One More Girl, and Emerson Drive at the Nashville North tent. Concerts held in the Saddledome this year included Garth Brooks, the Beach Boys, Brad Paisley, and Johnny Reid.
One of my favorite aspects of the Stampede is the nightly fireworks show. For this year’s centennial celebration, for six out of the ten nights, the fireworks show occurred simultaneously at five different locations around the city.