The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!

barrel racingThe Calgary Stampede kicked off this morning in classic parade fashion, complete with horse poop bingo at the intersection of Fifth Street and Ninth Avenue SW. Not familiar with poop bingo? The bingo grid has 80 squares, each randomly numbered, and tickets with a corresponding number are then sold to parade watchers for $2 each. The first time a horse poops on a square, that ticket holder walks away with $80, an amount that’s split between the winner and a charity.  This year’s charity helps support military families.

gatesTo say that Stampede is an entertainment packed 10 days might be an understatement, there is so much to do and see. The tournament style rodeo is the world’s richest tournament-style rodeo, featuring over $2 million in prize money which culminates on Showdown Sunday – Rodeo’s Richest Afternoon with over $1 million to be given away. It all leads up to a one shot, go-for-broke performance with winners taking home the Calgary Stampede Championship and $100,000.

Then there is the chuckwagon event. During 9 nightly heats, featuring a new Semi-Final Saturday, you’ll witness all the heart-stopping action as 36 drivers, 216 horses and their teams of outriders vie for over $1.15 million in prize money.

Scorpion-PizzaNot interested in anything even remotely related to that? Never fear!   You could have an entire experience built around the food possibilities, including the 32 new foods. The offerings range from bacon wrapped corn and bacon wrapped hot dogs (because everything IS better with bacon!), to chocolate dipped cookie dough on a stick, to a multitude of deep fried options including Cheesies, cookie dough, bacon cheeseburgers, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, and sushi (because fried just brings everything to a new level, right?), to red velvet mini donuts, scorpion pizza, and so much more.

The Calgary Stampede , Monday, July 9, 2012.Photo by Mike RidewoodAlso, 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 kiddo appropriate if you aren’t an adrenaline junkie). Haven’t had enough fun yet? The Stampede Midway has enough games to satisfy every level of game fanatic. There are themed areas to celebrate our western heritage. Then there is the Showbands Live! annual world-class marching band competition featuring performers from Calgary and all around the world. Each band presents a unique choreographed 15-minute field show to vie for the title of World Champion Calgary Stampede Showband. And shopping! I’m almost tired thinking about it all.

How do you plan on spending Stampede? Me? I’m just happy to wear my cowgirl boots.

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