There’s something about the wild Wild West that makes us feel nostalgic and romantic. Could it be the handsome cowboys riding and roping cattle in tight jeans? Maybe. How about watching a beautiful sunset over yonder hill? What about eating freshly baked corn bread on a dude ranch away from the city? Yes, all three of these images are quite lovely but to experience such a thing “ all at once “ in a city near you is rare. Unless, of course, you live in Canada or happen to be in Calgary, Alberta, from July 3-12 for the legendary Calgary Stampede.
The Calgary Stampede is the hottest celebration of western culture, in our opinion, on both sides of the border. Visitors to this festive event can take in a rodeo show, hear top notch musical performances and eat mind-blowing food. Yet, with so many things to take in, where does one to start? We have the 411 on the must-see and do sights and sounds of the Calgary Stampede.
See and Do
First things first, begin your immersion in western culture by attending the Stampede Parade which heralds in the 10 day celebration. It kicks off bright and early on July 3 at 7:30 a.m. Two-time Olympic gold medalist, Calgary native and the 2015 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal, Kallie Humphries ceremoniously open the event. You’ll also see the Calgary Stampede Showband, decorated floats, marching bands, riders, celebrities and more strut on by.
Horses, bulls and steers “ oh my! The main event of the stampede is the rodeo show. Every afternoon, at 1:15 p.m., cowboys and cowgirls take to the Stampede Grandstand to test and show off their skills in nine rodeo events such as bareback horse riding, bull riding and barrel racing. This is definitely one feature of the stampede you don’t want to miss.
It’s time to go country. Concerts by popular artists such as Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton will satisfy your inner cowgirl, but the stampede also offers performances by musicians from other genres like rock and pop. Oh, and we can’t forget to mention the legendary Stevie Wonder will be on hand to rock your world.
Food and Drink
The stampede’s midway is an area where you can let your culinary curiosities loose, there’s always something new and, sometimes, stomach churning here. Sweet and savoury bites on our list are mini donut popsicles, glazed donut grilled cheese sandwich and a lobster corn dog – hello! Others foods reserved for only the brave include the dragon dog (aka: $100 hotdog) and cockroach pizza “ yikes! There are also several restaurants on site such as The Clubhouse and Mavericks.
For tasty food off the stampede grounds, yet close by, we suggest hitting up Avec Bistro. The restaurant offers contemporary French cuisine in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. They have a pretty extensive wine list and we hear the beef tartar and AAA Alberta Striploin steak will make your mouth water with happiness.
Souvenir shopping is a must when you’re visiting the stampede; the grounds has several areas where you can shop for family and friends such as Weadickville, a historical recreation of Calgary in the 1900s, and the Stampede Market which offers items from retailers like Etsy and Leon Leather Company.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the stampede you can visit the CORE, an urban shopping mall that houses big name retailers such as Holt Renfrew and Roots. Plus you can visit 17th Ave Retail & Entertainment district which is a short drive away; this area has more than 400 shops and restaurants for you to peruse.
Photo credit: Calgary Stampede.