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The Calgary Stampede: A Rich History and Timeless Appeal

The Calgary Stampede: A Rich History and Timeless Appeal

The Calgary Stampede, often dubbed "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth," is an iconic annual event that has captured the hearts of millions worldwide.

Its roots run deep into the rich soil of Alberta's history, offering a blend of tradition, excitement, and community spirit. This year’s stampede runs from July 5-14.

Let’s take a look at the history of the Calgary Stampede, the reasons behind its enduring popularity, the main attractions, what attendees can expect this year, and the importance of travel insurance for international visitors.

A glimpse into history

The Calgary Stampede’s history dates back to 1912 when American promoter Guy Weadick organized the first rodeo and festival, aiming to preserve and celebrate the cowboy culture and heritage of the Old West. The event was an instant success, attracting thousands of visitors and setting the stage for what would become an annual tradition.

In the following years, the Calgary Stampede merged with the Calgary Industrial Exhibition, expanding its scope and appeal. This combination brought together agricultural exhibits, rodeo events, and entertainment, creating a diverse and dynamic festival for audiences.

The Calgary Stampede now has evolved into a 10-day extravaganza held every July, attracting over a million visitors each year.

Why is the Calgary Stampede so popular?

The Calgary Stampede’s popularity can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Rich cultural heritage: The event is a celebration of Western heritage, culture, and community spirit. It pays homage to the traditions of the Old West, preserving a way of life that is integral to Alberta’s identity.
  2. Diverse attractions: The Stampede offers something for everyone, from thrilling rodeo events and chuckwagon races to concerts, parades, and agricultural exhibitions. This diversity ensures that attendees of all ages and interests find something to enjoy.
  3. Community engagement: The Calgary Stampede is deeply rooted in the local community, involving thousands of volunteers and local businesses. This sense of community ownership and pride contributes to the event's unique and welcoming atmosphere.
  4. Global appeal: The Stampede’s reputation has spread far beyond Canada’s borders, attracting international visitors eager to experience its excitement and charm.

Main attractions of the Calgary Stampede

Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Rodeo events: The heart of the Stampede is its world-class rodeo, featuring events such as bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, and saddle bronc riding. These events showcase the skills and bravery of cowboys and cowgirls, offering thrilling entertainment for spectators.
  2. Chuckwagon races: Known as the "half-mile of hell," the chuckwagon races are a must-see. Teams of horses and drivers race around a track at breakneck speeds, providing edge-of-your-seat excitement.
  3. Parade: The Calgary Stampede Parade marks the official start of the festival. Featuring elaborate floats, marching bands, and cultural performances, the parade is a vibrant and colorful spectacle that draws massive crowds.
  4. Midway: The Stampede midway offers a carnival-like atmosphere with rides, games, and food stalls. It’s a great place for families and thrill-seekers to enjoy some classic fun.
  5. Evening shows: The evening grandstand show combines music, dance, and fireworks in a dazzling performance that captivates audiences. Each year, the show features a different theme, ensuring a unique experience for attendees.
  6. Agricultural exhibits: The Stampede showcases Alberta’s agricultural heritage with livestock displays, horse shows, and educational exhibits. Visitors can learn about farming practices and interact with animals.
  7. Concerts: The Calgary Stampede hosts a variety of concerts featuring top artists from various genres, including country, rock, and pop. Music lovers can enjoy live performances from both international stars and local talent.

What’s on this year

Every year, the Calgary Stampede introduces new attractions and events to keep the experience fresh and exciting. For this year, attendees can look forward to:

  1. All elite wrestling (AEW): For the second year in a row, AEW will bring its action-packed wrestling shows, “AEW: Dynamite” and “AEW: Rampage,” to the Saddledome. This event is a thrilling experience for wrestling fans and a great addition to the Stampede lineup.
  2. Stampede cellar: A brand-new, elevated wine and food experience called the Stampede Cellar will debut, offering a luxurious venue for guests to enjoy premium wines and gourmet food.
  3. New midway foods: The Midway will feature over 50 new food items, including creative and daring treats such as Lobster Bao, Pickle Fry Poutine, and Cowboy Breakfast Cornbread Donut Bowl. Food enthusiasts will have a delightful adventure exploring these unique offerings.
  4. Concerts: This year's concert lineup includes big names like the Jonas Brothers, Miranda Lambert, Nickelback, Billy Talent, Metric, Benson Boone, Melissa Etheridge, Jewel, Brothers Osborne, Ashley McBryde, and Motley Crue, ensuring a diverse range of music for all tastes​.
  5. Special exhibits and competitions: The Stampede will host the Alberta Young Speakers for Agriculture competition for the first time, bringing together young minds passionate about agriculture.

The fans: Who they are and where they come from

The Calgary Stampede attracts a diverse audience, including:

  1. Locals: Many Calgarians and Albertans attend the Stampede every year, considering it a staple of their summer activities.
  2. National visitors: Canadians from across the country travel to Calgary to experience the Stampede, drawn by its reputation and appeal.
  3. International tourists: The Stampede’s fame has reached global proportions, attracting visitors from the United States, Europe, Asia, and beyond. These international attendees come to immerse themselves in the unique culture and excitement of the event.

Travel Insurance: A wise choice for out-of-province and international visitors

For those traveling from another country, securing travel insurance is highly recommended. Here’s why:

  1. Medical emergencies: Health care costs in Canada can be high for non-residents. Travel insurance can cover medical expenses in case of illness or injury. Travel insurance is also a good idea for out-of-province visitors because sometimes there is a requirement for patients to pay "up front" and seek reimbursement from their home provincial or territorial health insurance plan.
  2. Trip cancellation: Unexpected events can disrupt travel plans. Travel insurance provides coverage for trip cancellations, ensuring you don’t lose your investment.
  3. Lost or delayed baggage: Travel insurance can also cover the cost of lost or delayed baggage, which is especially useful when traveling with essential items.
  4. Peace of mind: Having travel insurance offers peace of mind, allowing you to fully enjoy your trip without worrying about potential mishaps​.

Exploring Calgary during Stampede

While the Calgary Stampede is the main attraction, there’s plenty more to explore in Calgary during this time:

  1. Calgary Zoo: Home to a diverse range of animals and interactive exhibits, the Calgary Zoo is a great family-friendly destination.
  2. Heritage Park Historical Village: Step back in time and explore Canada’s largest living history museum, featuring historic buildings, costumed interpreters, and vintage rides.
  3. Prince’s Island Park: Located in the Bow River, this urban park offers beautiful walking trails, picnic areas, and stunning views of the city skyline.
  4. Glenbow Museum: Discover the art and history of Western Canada at the Glenbow Museum, which features extensive collections of indigenous artifacts, contemporary art, and historical exhibits.
  5. Calgary Tower: For a breathtaking view of the city and the surrounding landscape, visit the Calgary Tower’s observation deck.
  6. Stephen Avenue Walk: This pedestrian mall in downtown Calgary is lined with shops, restaurants, and historic buildings, offering a vibrant and bustling atmosphere.

The Calgary Stampede is more than just a festival; it’s a celebration of heritage, community, and the indomitable spirit of the West. Its rich history, diverse attractions, and welcoming atmosphere make it a must-visit event for anyone seeking a unique and memorable experience.

Whether you’re a local or an international visitor, the Stampede promises excitement, entertainment, and a deep connection to the cultural roots of Alberta.

So, pack your cowboy hat, secure your travel insurance, and get ready to experience the greatest outdoor show on earth.