The Calgary Stampede has drawn in crowds now for over 100 years. To be more exact, for 102 years. It was in 1912 when a man named Guy Weadick had a vision of celebrating the old west and its culture. Weadick was a cowboy, needless to say, and a vaudeville entertainer who traveled around with popular shows of the day themed around the wild west.
Though the history goes a bit deeper, it basically began to be called the Calgary Stampede due to Weadick and his Frontier Days and Cowboy Championship Contest. Calgary was officially a town in 1886 with a population of 500 people. That same year the Calgary and District Agricultural Society (CDSA) was set up. Just two years after that the CDSA had put on its very first fair. The CDSA then purchased 94 acres of land from Canada and it was named Victoria Park. To this very day the Calgary Stampede still uses the grounds of Victoria Park for the festivities and events.
One of the things that still pleases crowds today created by Weadick is the chuck-wagon race and like back then, every year a little more gets added to the Calgary Stampede also dubbed as The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth. In 1946, the Calgary Stampede saw the very first woman to win and be crowned the Calgary Stampede Queen. This extraordinary woman’s name was Patsy Rodgers.
Now, all these years later it looks like Weadick was on to something big because the Calgary Stampede has grown and grown and is now an international attraction. People from all over the world start booking their trip right after the Calgary Stampede is over. Making sure that the rooms are reserved or hotels booked because every cowboy and cowgirl knows that by the time the Calgary Stampede starts it is too late to get anything. By then, everything is sold out, booked solid or even overbooked.
This year, one year after the devastating flood that hit Alberta, the Calgary Stampede has an extra air of pride and energy. A spirit and feeling of togetherness permeates throughout the city during the two-week exhibition.
In 2014, 102 years later there are so many more attractions to catch at the Calgary Stampede and most of them are free with admission. The definite show stopper and must see event is that of the Peking Acrobats. The show is sponsored by the Enmax Corral Show. These young dancers catch your attention right from the start. The applause was never-ending as the audience held their breath as they watched feats that were unbelievably mind-blowing. One act in particular was so dangerous that the entire crowd went silent, one could hear a pin drop. The Peking Acrobats do about three shows a day with some special dates added. So while walking around the grounds, make sure to take the time to check these dancers out, it will be an hour well spent.
Another show to mention would be the dare-devil show held at the Bell Adrenaline Ranch. These performers do the craziest things with their motorcycles, BMX bikes, ATV’s and even snowmobiles. Yes, snowmobiles in July.
The Calgary Stampede has so many fun and free things to check out once you pay the admission. Kids can even get free face painting done by very talented artists or play in the BMO area and even enjoy some free samples from various companies that pop up around the grounds. There are so many great rides for the children and for adults as well. One will never go hungry while checking things out on the stampede grounds because there is food everywhere and the variety is staggering. So much so that at times it is hard to even decide what to eat when one is faced with so many options.
The Calgary Stampede, then and now has always been a great source of pride and fun for everyone who partakes. The show runs from July 3-13 so there is still time to check it out. Admission is $16 for adults and for seniors and children it is $8. Not a bad price for all that it has to offer inside.
By Derik L. Bradshaw