Yahoooooo: Why the Calgary Stampede is the Great Outdoor Show On Earth

I’ve been to a lot of cool festivals and celebrations all around the world but nothing even comes close to what happens during the Calgary Stampede, “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” For 10 days, the city pretty much shuts down to party, cowboy-style. Everything from free pancake breakfasts to hoe-downs to soirees to playing on the Stampede grounds.

People stagger into work late (if at all). Wanna take a 3-hour lunch? No problem. It’s Stampede week. Calgary turns into Jamaica and it’s “No problem, mon.”

And if you don’t own cowboy boots or a hat? ForgetAboutIt.

Which means since I don’t own either, I’m a reject in my own hometown.

This year was Stampede’s 100th anniversary so instead of just a nightly fireworks show above the fairgrounds, five international-scale firework displays occurred at the same time around the city, making it the largest and most sophisticated firework event ever produced in Canada.

We didn’t make it out to see them. In our defense, it doesn’t get dark until after 11 p.m. in the summer.

And yes, I am lame.

But we did make it to the Stampede grounds with Jamie this year. We have yet to buy tickets to the world-class rodeo (Chuckwagon races being the favorite) but the midway is always a great time. Prior to setting out, I posted this Facebook update:

YAHOO! Hitting up the Calgary Stampede today and, of course, Heart Attack Alley. What would you choose out of these gems? Bacon sundae funnel cakes, deep-fried Kool-Aid, Wagon Wheel or pickle chips. Then there is the 1,550-calorie doughnut cheeseburger with bacon, the macaroni and cheese pizza, deep-fried Coke, deep-fried Pop-tarts and a pulled pork parfait featuring mashed potatoes, gravy and pork presented to resemble an ice cream dessert. Salad, anyone? :-)

Turns out we never made it to heart attack alley (the reason we’re still alive today) but we still had a swell time on all the rides.

They’re smiling only because they found joy in giving the gift of whiplash

Only problem is it was sweltering. Remember how I came to Canada to escape the heat? The first few days of our visit, it followed us here. As we were standing in line at Niagara Falls (the log ride) counting down the moments until we’d get splashed, I looked around and everyone in line was panting or making makeshift fans out of anything they could find.

I pointed it out to Jamie and proclaimed, “THESE ARE MY PEOPLE!”

Finally, someone who could relate to my heat-induced coma this summer.


If you Google “Calgary Stampede Pancake Breakfast” a medley of websites and apps appear to help you navigate the onslaught of free pancakes breakfasts that occur daily during the 10-day celebration. Yep, that’s right: All. FREE.

The pancake breakfasts are put on with varying degrees of fanfare so we used to track down a fete where the Caravan Committee would be hosting, which is the biggest and baddest celebration of them all. We found them at our local mall–Southcentre–and had a blast listening to the live band and (of course) gorging on our breakfast of pancakes, real strawberry topping, sausage and cookie.

Bode with my niece’s darlings Arianna & Naomi
Nieces Emily & Ashton, Jamie, Hadley, Naomi, parents, Bode & Arianna
Balloon animals
Pony rides & a petting zoo

You will note that all the poor animals were crowded to the shade in the corner to escape the heat.

Even our animals are smart in the Great, White North.

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