Lots to see at the Calgary Stampede.
The old bucking bronco.
David enjoys the spectacular Calgary Stampede. It's much more than just a rodeo, it's a carnival that'll have you thoroughly entertained.
The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is the other name for the Calgary Stampede and it is much more than just a rodeo. There are usually around 500 competitors, 55 bulls and 2000 volunteers. This year 1.2 million people went to watch the spectacle.
The first stampede was held in 1912, when a trick roper came up with what seemed like a crazy idea at the time. It wasn't a huge success, but the roper tried again in 1919 and it became an annual event.
Over the years several traditions have taken hold some a little odd. On July 10, 1923, Eddie King rode his horse into the Club Café in downtown Calgary. He rode past the cashier, down the aisle behind the customers at the lunch counter, circled round the kitchen and into the dining room, threaded his way between tables and left the way he came in.
You might find a horse in a hotel lobby or a bull in a nightclub, all in the name of having a good time.
Another tradition is the chuckwagon pancake breakfast. These days several locations are advertised in the newspapers and people flock there for free pancakes and maple syrup and to join in the pancake-flipping and hat-stomping competitions.
The main areas of the stampede are the Grandstand, the Midway, the Agricultural area and two entertainment stages. The rodeo, chuckwagon races and big show are held in the Grandstand. The Midway is the stampede's sideshow alley with rides, extreme rides and carnival games.
The Big Top is where horse and cattle shows are held for competitors of all stages and ages and the Corral, between the Roundup Centre and the Saddledome, hosts superdog events. They perform agility tests and manoeuvre through obstacle courses.
The Saddledome is home to the Calgary Flames ice hockey team during winter, but in summer it's where marching bands compete and EquiDance, a choreographed event for horses and riders, is performed.
The stampede is not all activity and horseflesh. The Western Showcase is an area where chefs, artists, photographers and artisans show their talents many of their arts and crafts have a western flair, but that is not compulsory.
The two entertainment stages, Coca-Cola and Nashville North, have country and western performers strutting their stuff, starting from late morning to early the next morning.
At the Indian Village you can see traditional activities and craft, inspect a teepee and watch a powwow competition.
The rodeo, of course, is one of the stampede's major attractions. Each day cowboys and cowgirls do bareback riding, saddle bronco riding, bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing. The prize money is very attractive, but the dangers and risks the competitors are exposed to make most people shake their heads.
The other popular event is chuckwagon racing. It's fast, thrilling and the drivers are professional, following the circuit to make a living.