Saturday 9 July 2011

Welcome to The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth!

Welcome to The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth!

When you hear those words, then you know that it is Stampede time in Calgary. Ten days of doing everything to excess. Ten days when work pretty much stops in the city. Not for the grunts you understand, but for middle to upper management, who in effect get a pass on poor work performance and attendance. Ten days when an acceptable excuse for missing work or being late is “I was Stampedin’ hard!”

Ten days when breakfast consists of free pancakes, sausage or bacon and coffee or juice. Sure the pancakes are sometimes undercooked/overcooked and the sausage tastes like old saddle and the coffee is coffee in name only. Ten days when everyone drives like they are from out of town and there is a better than even chance that they are. Ten days when it is okay to wear jeans, a western shirt, cowboy boots and of course the ever present cowboy hat to work and pretty much every where else. Ten days of fireworks every night.

Louise called it the worst and longest Halloween party ever, this morning. I will keep her as long as she makes me laugh.

The city smells of syrup and BBQ for the ten days of stampede. Oh yeah, and horse shit! This is a time when any band that is worth their salt, play western music, whether or not they are rock, punk, hip hop, soul, jazz, alternative or even cowboy bands. This is when they make their money. All of the kids that take dance, band, gymnastics, aerobatics and martial arts get a chance to perform in public, to the delight of their parents and audience alike.

Most of the businesses have the windows painted with cartoon cowboys are roping whatever the store happens to sell. Impromptu corals are erected around the store fronts and patios, and bales of hay can be found strewn all over the city. Where else would you sit to eat your pancakes and sausage while you listen to the too loud western twang?

The stampede itself is something that you love or hate. I am somewhat ambivalent towards the whole thing, but then I have seen it and done it before. The “Grounds” are pretty much the same as any fairgrounds with the sights, sounds, smells, stalls and rides that are pretty standard throughout the world. They do have the rodeo and the Chuckwagon races which can be very exciting to watch. Having lived here, you know that you can see rodeo much closer at a smaller town throughout the summer. You can actually have the dirt and sweat sprayed in your face, if that is your idea of a good time.

We do have a big parade with marching bands and horses, floats, mayors, premiers, dukes and duchesses, dogs, clowns, Shriners and their little cars, but no Santa Clause. Oh yeah, wrong time of year. The weather is usually pretty good for the duration. We have a saying in Calgary that there are two seasons, winter and Stampede. Stampede flags line the roads and all of our newscasters wear western duds. Me? I have a sheriff’s badge that I sometimes wear and maybe a bandana and you can always find me in jeans. They say that cowboy boots are really comfortable, but that is one of those things that I will just have to take “their” word on.

I guess to sum up, it is a good time for the city; generating a lot of income and it lets us blow off some steam. Less pent up anger is a good thing and really, who can argue with free food?

PS. Louise and I gave blood this morning, 46 times for her and 56 for me. Did you know that only 3% of our population donate blood? If you can (and not everyone can) get out and donate. It makes you feel good and how else will you save a life?


  1. I'm in agreement with Louise about the Stampede, the same old same old! B

  2. Well, I'm excited and I'm going.
    Lots to see in the Big Four and
    the barns.....with a corn dog in my hand!

  3. I'll probably go too, but I like the exhibits and people watching. You can keep the fairground food...

  4. Good for you two ..... I totally agree on the blood giving!! I like giving out here better though as we get home baking!! Hmmmmm not long before you reach your age?

  5. Yep, I should reach my age and IQ at about the same time.