Well its only taken me about three weeks to finally get to this post but took me that long to recover from all the Stampeding Festivities. The Calgary Stampede 2018 is a wrap and was one of the most successful with attendance way up. The gods brought us some of the best weather we’ve ever had for a week of Stampeding. The first Friday in July is always the big kickoff starting with the Stampede Parade that signifies the opening of The Greatest Show on Earth. It’s the beginning of 10 days of festivities that transform the city into the wild west and a stomping ground of fun and gluttony.
The whole city transforms with wooden facades, painted windows, Stampede Flags and hay bails that adorn the fronts of shops, bars and offices all over the city. Hundreds of free pancake breakfasts can be found throughout Calgary with every mall, bar, church and many businesses participating. The parties start with a breakfast in the morning, some with pitchers of tequila sunrise, vodka paralyzers and beer margaritas on a party progression that moves on to bars like Cowboys, Ranchman’s or Desperados in the afternoon.
It’s a week when not much work gets done as corporate Calgary trades in their suits for blue jeans and cowboy hats. Everyone two steps there way down to a wild west salon with some clients and a handful of drink tickets for some over the top fun. I always thought it was an urban myth that the divorce rate skyrockets the week after stampede but apparently its true, divorce lawyers ramp up for the flood of business that ensues when the drinking and ‘fun’ gets out of hand. Yes, there is a seedy side to it all just like the mayhem of Mardi Gras and other big festivals but if you keep your head on you’ll have a blast and live to tell the tales.
My festivities started out the first Thursday in July when the Stampede Grounds opened up for what’s called the annual ‘sneak a peek’, with discounted rates to try the rides and see the opening Grandstand Show. The rodeo and main attractions don’t start until after the parade but it’s a great time to walk the grounds and catch a show.
My company was a large corporate sponsor, so we got comp tickets and brought some friends to wonder the grounds and catch the Grandstand Show. Along the way we stopped to buy ‘Dream Home’ tickets, eat some mini donuts and scarf down a corndog smothered in mustard… all must have things that are like ritual when visiting the Stampede. For the daring there are all kinds of food trucks to test the adventurous; try a deep-fried squid on a stick, a cricket topped pizza or anything you can image deep fried! Then go hurl it all up after a crazy ride on the midway.
This years Grandstand Show was a tribute to 50 years of the Young Canadians who provided the usual high pack singing and dancing entertainment that climaxes at the end of the night with a spectacular fire works show that can be seen throughout the entire city. We left the grounds after midnight and got home at about 1:30 am with work the next day, I was a little tired. Here’s a video of the show and grounds.
A few days to recover and the next event was down to the rodeo grounds with some co-workers and clients at The Bell Media Suite, the best seats in the house! We all got wined and dined in a private suite with a buffet of all you could eat and drink with a dedicated server to fulfill our every want and need.
We were so close to the infield you could reach out and touch the cowboys as they’d carefully mounted the feisty beasts they’d be hanging onto for 8 minutes to glory. So close that we were sprayed with bull poop, bucked onto our laps and made the cocktails extra western tasting- who needs Tabasco, drink like a real cowboy!
They even hired a retired cowboy as our host for the afternoon to educate us on the rodeo and fill us in on the highlights. A few of the competing cowboys from Texas joined us after their events for a few beers and a photo op. It was a great afternoon enjoyed by all and thankful to have had the experience. Think I’m forever spoiled to view the rodeo from the peasant seats, only a suite will do! Below is a short video of the rodeo.
A few more days to detox and then it was a bender at the bar, ‘Cowboys’. A corporate meet and great for all the media sales people from competing companies, a time to say hi to comrades in crime. It’s a pretty incestuous business, reps move from company to company over the course of a career so everyone’s worked with each other at one time or another. Such great people who know how to party and a whole lot of fun.
A few days later and it was the weekend, also Janet’s birthday and we ventured out to a local pub for some dinner and drinks with friends. It was a lovely evening for dining el fresco and before we knew it, it was late in the evening and time to venture home. The food, drinks and company were exceptional, and this brought an end to our Stampeding festivities.
The rodeo wrapped up on Sunday and some of the biggest prizes on the world rodeo circuit were handed out. Someone else snatched up our dream home, took home our fully loaded Camero, wheelied off with our ATV’s, stole our Clamping unit and filled their pockets with our jackpot winnings. All that was left was a hangover, jeans that miraculously became too tight, hat head and cowboy boots that had to be cut of our hot, swollen puppies. But all the fun and memories that I’d need until next year. You’ll have to come, start planning! Here’s a link to our Stampede Photos.