The countdown to the Calgary Stampede is almost over. The kickoff parade is 1 week from today. Everywhere you look, stores have western clothing displays in their windows, straw bales are appearing in slightly unusual places as businesses get into the spirit, and people are starting to organize their free pancake breakfast tours.
Not being born and raised in Western Canada, I thought that the Stampede was a pretty interesting collection of rodeo, crazy food and concerts with some extra goodness tossed in there for good measure. The Calgary Stampede’s vision is to “preserve and promote our western heritage, cultures and community spirit”. I guess that does say it far more eloquently than I did. Regardless, it’s 10 days of undisputed entertainment.
There’s the tournament-style rodeo and the chuck wagon event. Also, it wouldn’t be Stampede if there wasn’t a lineup of concerts to enjoy, a midway to keep you white knuckled for the ride (or family friendly appropriate if you aren’t an adrenaline junkie). The Stampede Midway has enough games to satisfy every level of game fanatic. There are themed areas to celebrate our western heritage. Not to mention shopping! And concerts! To commemorate it all, this year The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a silver Calgary Stampede $2 coin during a Thursday ceremony on the Stampede grounds. Because the coin is a bullion product, its value changes with the global price of silver. As of yesterday, it was worth around $8 but as legal tender, the coin is worth $2, so you can use yours to buy a Timmy’s (although I’m not sure I’d advise that!).
One of my favourite things about Stampede is all the crazy, innovative, and off-the-charts inventive food. I think you could create an entire experience around all the food available at Stampede (although I don’t think that I’m brave enough or have an adventuresome enough stomach). You can opt for a Jalapeño Poutine Mini Donut bowl or Jalapeño Lime Fudge. Then there’s Red Velvet Chicken Strips: Grade A chicken strips dipped in Red Velvet cake mix and cooked again.
If last year’s scorpions were a culinary treat for you, this year’s pizza continues along that same daring path by adding some crunch to your pizza with some cockroaches. Looking for something a little tamer? Perhaps the PB&J Funnel Cake is more to your taste. Or maybe you want your PB&J fried in which case you can go for the Peanut Butter Kabob: a deep fried peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich sliced into four, served on a stick spaced between 3 deep fried Reese Peanut Butter cups. Never fear, if you are looking for the classics, there are corn dogs (but also lobster corn dogs – classic midway meets MasterChef?), mini donuts, and deep fried Twix in the offering…
Enjoy Stampede and the chances to wear your cowboy boots! Don’t forget your sun screen!