Not sure if I want to make this a short or long post lols. As the whole world knows, floods have hit Calgary and people were evacuated to neighbouring towns/hotels in the North. The stampede was not cancelled and on the day I arrived, it was PACKED! Our vacation plans did not change and we traveled from Edmonton to Calgary with an extra stop in Banff (a fully packed 3-day trip). And THIS JUST IN, Toronto has also been hit with floods in the down town area (including Mississauga) and people are stuck for 5+ hours. My boyfriend actually skipped out on work today (luckily) or else he would have been trapped too =/
So the stampede is a HUGE thing in Calgary, it brings in millions of revenue and is “the event” for Albertans. Everyone dresses up in cowboy hats and boots while attending the Stampede and I would say it’s a more festive spin to Toronto’s very own “CNE or the Ex”. The stampede runs for around 2 weeks and many artists travel to Calgary for concerts and etc. For this year, they have Carly Rae Jepson coming in but it’s on a frigg’n weekday…so how am I supposed to watch her? So disappointing baby. To begin, let’s break the Stampede down into several components:
Entrance fee…To actually get into the fair, you can buy the tickets for around $15-18 for an adult ticket. You can also go in if you have bought tickets for the chuckwagon or rodeo races. The special thing about stampedes is that you can watch the different types of races (usually lasting 3 hours long) which you can’t see anywhere else in Canada. Correction, Alberta hosts stampedes in many smaller cities/towns but Calgary brings together the best of the best. The race tickets include your seats at the stadium AND the festival entrance fee.
Parking…If you do happen to drive to the stampede, parking is around $20 but that’s not DIRECTLY at the stampede park. The spaces are located 5-10 minutes away (walking distance) and the lots are usually full. For those who want to be economical, definitely take the ctrain which is a form of public transportation. The price is $3 and the ticket is good for 1.5 hours.
What to do….Like many festivals/parades you can bring your kids and play a bunch of games. I kept losing at all the booths and forced my boyfriend to win a doll for me lols. In addition to the money sucking booths (which costs an average of $5 per try), there are many stands for food/drinks. Once again they are money grabbers because drinks are usually $4 up and food is like $5 up. We tried our first turkey leg (which is GIGANTIC) and some fried onion rings. Let’s take a look at the pictures below. And yes, they are pictures of my boyfriend and not me lols.
Rodeo…If you haven’t been to a rodeo then make sure your purchase tickets for one. Seating is divided into 2 major sections: one with a roof and the other without. The ones without are obviously closer to the actual performance ground but if there is rain, you will be drenched. I have tried sitting in both areas and sitting closer to the horses/bulls will give you a better atmosphere. Rodeos last approximately 3 hours long and feature a number of races and can get pretty rough to watch. They always start off with wild horses where cowboys need to stay for at least 8 seconds to be considered for a rank. I don’t have an extensive list of what goes on in a rodeo and I’m still learning about it myself. What pisses me off about the events is that programs cost extra, so you never know what comes next unless you pay for the damn book. Money ripping organizers!
When I went (which was the past Saturday), the place was raining cats and dogs once again. The stampede was well equipped and had been selling ponchos for all the attendees. If you are lucky, you will find booths that sell ponchos for $3 but most will sell for $5. Make sure you look at the weather forecast but better yet, just go to a dollar store and buy one in case! I really enjoyed my time at the Stampede but our days were so full that we zipped through the whole thing in a few hours. Take your time with the Stampede because it’s something that can take up your whole day.