A major attraction among so many others at the exciting Calgary Stampede are the ’chuck wagon’ races. Teams of horses, wagons, and outriders compete in a thrilling race which does have risks for both man and animal.

A major attraction among so many others at the exciting Calgary Stampede is the ’chuck wagon’ race. Teams of horses, wagons, and outriders compete in a thrilling race which does have risks for both man and animal.
Photo Credit: Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede 2016 – the greatest show on Earth

The Calgary Stampede, one of the biggest spectacles in Canada also bills itself as the greatest annual outdoor show on earth. No-one seems to doubt that either.

This year from July 7 to the 17th, it’s an event filled with musical performances, cultural performances, rodeo shows, agricultural skills, fairgrounds, foods, indeed almost anything you can imagine.

Although the fairgrounds open on the afternoon, tomorrow the 7th with a full schedule of events, the official opening parade is on Friday the 8th.

Jennifer Booth is the public relations manager for this annual super event

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Jennifer Booth, public relations manager, Calgary Stampede
Jennifer Booth, public relations manager, Calgary Stampede © Calgary Stampede

The history of the event can be traced as far back as 1866 when agricultural fairs were held, but the Stampede considers 1912 as its first year and so this year marks the 104th edition. After it was nearly cancelled in 2013 due to a massive flood, everyone pulled together and made that year a great show.

Parade marshals this year will be Canadian country music star Paul Brandt and pop music star Jann Arden.  They will be joined by dozens of other stars during the event, including many big names from the United States and elsewhere, in daily afternoon and evening performances. In fact there are so many country music stars, the Stampede has been dubbed “Nashville North” for many years now.

It has been getting bigger and better every year, and this year more performances, atttactions and pavilions have been added, such as an ‘international’ pavilion to highlight the many cultures that make up the city, the province, and Canada itself.

Traditional rodeo events like bucking broncs, and bull riding are always big attractions and the Stampede provides the biggest prizes of any rodeo in the world, thereby attracting the world’s best.
Traditional rodeo events like bucking broncs, and bull riding are always big attractions and the Stampede provides the biggest prizes of any rodeo in the world, thereby attracting the world’s best. © Calgary Stampede
The Stampede midway in full swing and all lit up in the evening
The Stampede midway in full swing and all lit up in the evening © Calgary Stampede

Traditional western skills are always a feature such as blacksmithing, horseshoeing, and so much more, are demonstrated. There are competitions like the heavy draught horse pull, show dogs with ‘dock jumping’ as they see whose can leap the furthest and the highest from a “dock’ into a pool of water., cowboy shooting skills, cooking and others.

Another shot of the nightlife at Stampede Park with spectacular fireworks displays
Another shot of the nightlife at Stampede Park with spectacular fireworks displays © Calgary Stampede
There are many demonstrations of traditional western skills like horseshoeing.
There are many demonstrations of traditional western skills like horseshoeing. © Calgary Stampede

The Rodeo events are a huge attracting, and with the world’s biggest prize payments, the top riders in the world see this as the premier event on the rodeo circuit, along with calf and steer roping, cattle penning, barrel racing, and more.

Canada’s First Nations aboriginal groups have always been a part of Stampede showing their traditional culture and skills.
Canada’s First Nations aboriginal groups have always been a part of Stampede showing their traditional culture and skills. © Calgary Stampede
In addition to the major performances on stage, there is always lots of impromptu kind of entertainment along the midway as well
In addition to the major performances on stage, there is always lots of impromptu kind of entertainment along the midway as well © Calgary Stampede

The 10-day event typically sees well over a million visitors, about 30,000 of them from outside the Calgary area, with many Americans and plenty of visitors from overseas who have heard about this amazing show.

The relatively recent sport of ’cowboy shooting’ is big draw, speed, skill, and noise in intense competition
The relatively recent sport of ’cowboy shooting’ is big draw, speed, skill, and noise in intense competition © Calgary stampede
Huge crowds turn out fro the many musical performances by big name stars, many from Nashville, hence the temporary title of *Nashville North*.
Huge crowds turn out fro the many musical performances by big name stars, many from Nashville, hence the temporary title of *Nashville North*. © Calgary Stampede

Of course with so many visitors expected there are lots of food vendors with lots of typical foods, but also some unusual offerings, including bug balls, a sweet treat made with crickets and meal worms.

Why decide between pickles and hot dogs when eating your snack from a stick? With the big pickle dog, you no longer have to pick a favourite.
Why decide between pickles and hot dogs when eating your snack from a stick? With the big pickle dog, you no longer have to pick a favourite. © Calgary Stampede
For the slightly more adventurous. Sticky toffee bug balls* are deep-fried dough balls tossed in cinnamon and sugar, glazed in toffee sauce and topped with chopped medjool dates, garnished with whipped cream and sprinkled with meal worms and crickets.
For the slightly more adventurous. Sticky toffee bug balls* are deep-fried dough balls tossed in cinnamon and sugar, glazed in toffee sauce and topped with chopped medjool dates, garnished with whipped cream and sprinkled with meal worms and crickets. © Calgary Stampede

And if you don’t happen to already have cowboy boots, hats and other gear, lots of vendors are on hand to deck you out in traditional western attire.

It truly is one of Canada’s greatest annual events.

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