# Thursday, July 5, 2018
Calgary Stampede
Welcome to the latest edition of our "Popular Visitor to Canada Destinations" series.

Today we are going to Calgary, Alberta to check out the world-famous Calgary Stampede.

The Calgary Stampede is a 10-day extravaganza of rodeo, festivals and exhibitions that has been called the greatest outdoor show on earth.

So sit back, relax, and get your cowboy/cowgirl boots and hat on!

History of the Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede has a rich history and tradition that goes back for well over a hundred years.

The Stampede started out as a small fair designed to promote the town of Calgary. This first fair was held in 1886 and was attended by 2000 of the town’s inhabitants.

Speed forward to the present, with the Stampede getting well over a million annual visitors that come from all over the world!

The following is a concise chronological history of the Calgary Stampede:
  • 1886: the first fair was sponsored by The Calgary and District Agricultural Society.
  • 1908: the Canadian federal government awarded Calgary the Dominion Exhibition, which was a travelling exhibition that drew attention to different regions in Canada.
  • 1912: the first official Calgary Stampede. The Stampede was promoted by Guy Weadick, an American who fell in love with the cowboy life style. Guy actually worked at several ranches as a cowboy, and he wanted to create an exhibition that celebrated the Wild West. The exhibition was funded by four cattlemen who became know as “The Big Four”.
  • 1919: the second Calgary Stampede was successfully held. Once again it was promoted by Guy Weadick, who had tried promoting other exhibitions in New York State and the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba (both of which were considered failures). And once again, it was hosted as a one-time event.
  • 1923: the first combination of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede was hosted. It was the first time for the famous chuck wagon races and was a resounding success in terms of attendance and revenue raised.
  • To present day: the Stampede continued to grow in popularity, although there were some rough patches experienced during the Great Depression. New events such as the Parade and Midway were added to the festivities, making the Stampede what it is today.
The Stampede is held in the first half of July, and this year’s events go from July 6 to July 15.

Calgary Stampede Events

The Stampede has grown in scope over time, offering visitors more and more things to see and do.

Here are just some of the main events and attractions of the Stampede.
Stampede Parade

Stampede Parade

The Calgary Stampede officially kicks off the festivities with the Stampede parade.

The parade is viewed by hundreds of thousands of people and is the second most popular parade in the world (the Rose Bowl Parade takes that title).

Just some of the parade’s attractions are First Nations dancers, marching bands, lots of cowboys and cowgirls and hundreds of floats.

Every year a new marshal is selected to lead the parade.

Agricultural Exhibition

This agricultural extravaganza has been a major component of the Stampede since its inception.

The Exhibition hosts over a thousand exhibits and agricultural programs. There are numerous farming, ranching and blacksmithing demonstrations.

Exciting competitions such as The World Series of Cutting and the World Championship Blacksmithing Competition are also big crowd favourites.

The exhibition is typically visited by roughly half of the Stampede’s attendees.

The Midway

The Midway has numerous rides and games, with lots of fun to be had for the kids and adults alike.

Just some of the popular rides this year are the Zipper, the Wave Swinger, the Outlaw, the Slingshot and the Zipline, just to name a few.

There are also many food booths that offer Midway visitors a huge variety of dishes to choose from when they are feeling a bit peckish. New foods are being added to the event every year, and this year is seeing the addition of things such as Mexican street corn, sushi doughnuts and "hang over mac and cheese".

Stampede Rodeo

The Rodeo is probably the most famous component of the Stampede. Featuring cowpokes from all over the world, the rodeo consists of multiple events that span 10 days of competition.

Just some of the rodeo events are barrel racing, steer riding, bareback and saddle bronc (where the horse tries to buck off the rider), and the ever-dangerous bull riding (a tip of the hat to the rodeo clowns who do a great job protecting the cowboys when thrown from the back of one of these massive behemoths).

The Stampede Rodeo is a daily event that is held in the afternoon at the Grandstands. The finale is on Showdown Sunday, with over 2 million dollars in prize money being awarded to the top finalists.

The Evening Show

The Evening Show, also referred to as the Grandstand Show, is a daily double-header event that occurs in the evening hours of the Stampede.

The show is announced via a loud klaxon blast, signifying the beginning of the Rangeland Derby chuckwagon racing.

The chuckwagon races are followed by a wide variety of music, dance and acrobatic shows, which culminate in a spectacular display of fireworks.
Stampede Bull Riding

Location and Lodgings

The Calgary Stampede takes place in Calgary, Alberta, a large Canadian city with a population of approximately 1.2 million people.

Events are held in Stampede Park, which is located to the southeast of Calgary’s downtown core (the Park is accessible via public transit such as bus and rail).

The Evening Show and the Rodeo both take place in the Stampede Grandstand, a stadium that can sit 17,000 spectators with standing room for 8,000 more.

Other Park locations are home to various venues such as the Stampede Corral with its extreme motor sport events and the International Pavilion with all sorts of different foods.

For a detailed map of Stampede Park please click here.

As far as lodgings go, Calgary is a large city, and as such visitors have a plethora of accommodation choices. There are many hotels, inns, etc. that are situated close to the Park.

Interesting Calgary Stampede Facts

  • It is often referred to as The Greatest Outdoor Show in the world.
  • The first Stampede was held September of 1912, and it attracted cowboy contestants from both the USA and Canada. Top prize was a $1,000, a new saddle and a golden belt buckle.
  • The Stampede’s rodeo is the most lucrative rodeo in the world, offering finalists over $2 million in prize money.
  • The Stampede grosses more money than any other festival in Canada.
  • A tradition of the Stampede is FREE pancake breakfasts.
  • The main driving force behind the Stampede was actually an American, Guy Weadick, and not a Canadian.

Emergency Medical Protection

If you are coming to the Calgary Stampede from another country then make sure you are protected against unforeseen medical costs.

Accidents do happen, and a stay in a Canadian hospital is not cheap!

There is a special type of travel insurance available called "visitor to Canada insurance". This coverage is offered by Canadian insurance companies and is specifically designed for medical emergencies that occur in Canada. You are welcome to get instant visitor insurance quotes online, free of charge.


We really hope you enjoyed this post about the Calgary Stampede, one of the greatest outdoor shows out there.

If you have any questions please contact us, we would love to hear from you.

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