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Thursday, June 22, 2017

12 Reasons to go to the Calgary Stampede this year

Alisha McDarris

Oh, you've never heard of the Calgary Stampede, you say? Don't feel bad; neither had we until about a month ago. But I've got to be honest, now that we know, it sounds like a blast. So if you're up for an impromptu trip to Alberta or you're heading to Banff this July, add this robust annual event to your itinerary and enjoy the culinary and craft brewery scene in Calgary during this historical event. And if you're on the fence, here are 12 reasons to go to the Calgary Stampede in 2017.

1. There are 10 days of activities and events

Go to one or attend all ten. It makes it super easy to drop in on your road trip across Canada or liven up a week-long vacay. Check out the schedule online and pick which concerts or exhibits you're into and check em all out! And make sure to join the official kick-off parade on July 7 and enjoy free admission into Stampede Park until 1:30! Yay free!

2. The live music is on point

No really, there's something for everybody at the Stampede whether you're into donning a cowboy hat or not. Brooks & Dunn, Usher & the Roots, USS and Nelly Furtado are just a few of the headliners. And of course the five-time world champion Calgary Stampede Show Band will be there. You can even catch a Bollywood performance on the Community Stage. And as the stages are mostly outdoors it makes for a killer festival atmosphere.

3. You can learn all about Calgary's First Nations

Did you know it was illegal for the indigenous people to speak their language, wear their clothing or participate in their rituals until 1961? Well you do now, but there's so much interesting history where Calgary's First Nations are concerned, so come find out why a painted tipi is significant or what a smudge ceremony looks like for the five nations of Treaty 7: Kainai, Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda, Siksika and Piikani.

4. To watch the cowboys ride and wrangle

Calgary is more or less known for it's cowboy culture, and nowhere is this more apparent than at the Calgary Stampede. I'm not personally a fan of rodeos (you know, vegan and all that), but if you are, this is the place to spot some world-class bull riding and roping. It takes place daily at 1:15.

5. To catch a show

The evening show, that is. It features the world's premier chuckwagon derby that you can see, hear and feel and a TransAlta grandstand show with elaborate musical numbers, acrobatics and fireworks
that will blow your mind.It takes place at the grandstand every night at 7:45.

6. To eat all the food

Raw cookie dough in a waffle cone surrounded by cotton candy? Thai rolled ice cream? Clam chowder poutine? No guarantees you'll find a lot of vegan options, but of course there will be all the traditional fair food, too, including deep fried Jello.

7. Because we know you want to pet a pony

Or a baby goat. Or a momma pig. Or a donkey. Or try milking a big plastic cow. Anywhere you go on site you'll find cute little furballs to love on.

8. There are events on events on events

Let the gravity defying stuntmen and women of Bell Motocross light it up. They've set records with their stunts, won medals, and promise to impress. At the Dog Bowl, canines compete in agility, athleticism and stunts as they strut their stuff. Watch blacksmiths ply their trade at the blacksmith demos.

10. To ride all the rides

All of them. Ferris wheels, giant swings, roller coasters, spinny rides, flingy rides, whatever your thing, you're gonna have a ball. Or just play some games. That's always fun. But know that you're not gonna get off cheap. All-day ride wrist bands are $55 Canadian on weekdays and $58 on weekends.

11. To shop till you drop

From Indigenous made art to cowboy boots to Calgary Stampede swag, you can find it here without ever leaving Stampede grounds. So whether it's a blanket for a picnic between concerts or a hat to keep the sun off, stock up and roll out.

12. You can spend less on certain days

Because you know we're all about saving cash. From 5:00 pm on July 6 you can pay only $9 for a sneak peek at certain areas of the park, parade day offers free admission until 1:30, Cenovous Family Day means free admission from 8:00 am to noon and free breakfast for the first 25,000 visitors, seniors get in free all day on Canada 150 Day (July 11), and BMO Kids Day on July 12 is free for kids from 7:00-9:00 am and $2 for the rest of the day. You can also get a discount book at Costco for just under $40 for $50 to spend on admission and at the park. Buy a specially marked 12-pack of Coca-Cola at nearby retailers for a 2-for-$5 admission coupon.

The Calgary Stampede takes place from July 7-16 and costs $9 for seniors and kids 7 to 12 and $18 for adults. It's free for kids under 7. Regular hours are 11:00 am to midnight, so cowboy up, 'cause there ain't no party like a Stampede party.

Alisha McDarris / Author & Editor

Alisha is a freelance writer and photographer based in Austin, TX. She loves her tiny house, vegan food and experiencing the community of travel in far away places. She’s also pretty sure she’s addicted to coffee. [Portfolio]


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