Calgary Stampede, Calgary
After 2012 Centennial many including myself thought Stampede 2013 be somewhat a let down, how wrong we were. 2 weeks to the day that the parade starts off the official beginning of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede the banks of the Elbow River that run through and along the Stampede overflowed with a velocity that made the opening of the Stampede almost impossible to comprehend. While we weren't able to save everything, the push back to ensure that we did have a Stampede will be something that will live in my heart forever. Our Second Century Begins (video attached) makes me emotional months after the event as realize how all the work being done to make sure the Show would go on being shown was such a small fraction of things that had to be done!
Back in 2005 I was employed at the Stampede and was called in Fathers day 2005 when the river overflowed and did a lot of damage to the infield. It took a lot for the employee's of the Stampede to get the show up and going for that. We had a lot more time it seemed to me to recover (believe it was 3 weeks out at least) from Stampede and this time the amount of water flow in 2013 was 5 times the flow in 2005 which seems unfathomable to me (pun intended B-) ). On top of the Elbow overflowing this time the Bow River overflowed which caused downtown to fill with water and be evacuated. People I know are still displaced months after even when there apartments were not directly effected, however; due to key electrical and heating building infrastructure in many cases being in basements means many are looking at a year or more to get back home. This has nothing really to do with your next vacation, but more to the extend that city was impacted only 2 weeks from Stampede beginning. There is a picture I have below of Big 4 shows where the water line was, under the waterline on the left side wall is where the Fire Alarm for the building is. The amount of work to get the Casino and Super Dogs upstairs was substantial, yet not as appreciable as didn't seem to be effected. The lower floor of the Big 4 all heaved up, and it had to be fixed in order for C train tracks right next to the building to be fixed in such a way that wasn't like a roller coaster whip-Te-do. The C train is a very very important part of the Stampede and Calgary in general, I don't know what we would do with out.
The Saddle Dome was not able to be saved in time to open for Stampede 2013 aka Stampede 101, all the concerts had to be rescheduled. The Eagles concert and the Calgary Flames preseason NHL game were the first events to take place after the flood in the ScotiaBank Saddle Dome or whatever they call it now in September. Stampede 101 Buck A Roo's had been moved from the lower Big 4 to Hall A of the BMO which wasn't impacted very much by the flood. At the very start of the Our Second Century Begins video you can see water seeping into view on security camera and is the full extent that water entered the BMO building. Where Buck-a-Roo's used to be was going to be office space for the Lotteries. So other the Range (food court and theme lit seating area) as far as visitors were concerned was the only thing we lost out of the Big 4 which guessing that suited many of the independent food vendors just fine and dandy.
11 days before Stampede 101 officially kicked off Come Hell or High Water became the rallying chant and while many would assume that we would not be able to rebound the citizens of Calgary banded together. Volunteers were even being turned away from the Stampede due to liability and safety concerns while organizational volunteer clean up drives were overwhelmed with help at other city locations. Walking around the Stampede grounds in the days leading up to opening you could come across small to large(over 100 pairs) islands of shoes where armies of workers for various contractors had taken off their shoes to suit up to go battle the clean up. When various Midway personal were allowed to start to set up, informed me that they were in Winnipeg when the floods hit Calgary and they didn't think there was anyway we would be able to do it. I would say "I think we Calgarians' like it when people think we can't do something".
Stampede 101 won't be remembered by how much the floods did but what we did to ensure that we still had a Stampede. Events like the flood and the Olympics come to Calgary and Calgarian's suit up and show up to do what they have to make sure the event will go on and or is a success. Normally all this would have little to do with a travel review, but in this case Stampede 101 is more about the people of Calgary and their willingness to do what they have to make sure that the show will go on come "Come Hell or High Water" ! If you go to the utube video below you will see all sorts of other videos or can google more info, pictures I have selected were ones taken from locations the public couldn't get for unique perspective. There was a picture going around with the water in the dome that had all the lights on in the building, picture friend took is only picture I have seen of actual water level in the dome.
As for Stampede in general and how expensive it is. There are ways to get in for free or cheap if you look into it. While the good ol pins that volunteers and full time staff are no longer some people are lucky enough to score a companion pass that doesn't have a picture associated with it. Coke and other major sponsors normally have ways to get in for free or discounted. Several days through out the ten days of Stampede there opportunities to enter park before 9 am for free. Many people come in get hand stamped and go to work, home or where ever till come back later in the day. Once in the park Family Feud in the Corral was something that was new and is free with park admission. One of my favorite free things to do at Stampede is going to the Super Dogs which is still in the upper Big 4 Hall A. Another new event that was free was over at the Bell Extreme Zone. It had something to do with water so didn't think it was really in good taste, but these things are booked months and months before.
One of Calgary’s symbols is a White Cowboy Hat. This is the home of the Stampede and of course you'll want to be one of the good guys wearing a white hat rather than wearing a black hat. White Cowboy Hats are often presented to visiting dignitaries and celebrities as a welcoming gift to Calgary. In fact anyone can take part in the White Hat ceremony (see Calgary Tourism for details).
Cowboy hats made from felt can be quite hot in the summer which in turns can lead to a dreaded condition known as "hat head". If you want to get into the spirit of Stampede, get an inexpensive straw cowboy hat. The straw "breathes", and if you forget it in a bar, it's no great loss.
Famously known as the World's Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is the Calgary Stampede. It is essentially a rodeo, fair and theatrical perfomances.
It takes place the first two weeks of July. The whole city pretty much shuts down to begin the celebrations with the Stampede Parade. Next are the numerous free Stampede Breakfasts hosted by various businesses ( pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausages) usually with entertainment of western singers/dancers.
Imagine our shocked reaction while standing in the customs line to be told of the London bombings from an American tourist.
Government buildings in Canada lowered their flags - so did our hotel as a mark of respect.
Calgary pulls out all the stops when it comes to fun and friendliness, the atmosphere around the city during Stampede week is electric with tourist and locals alike joining in the carnival atmosphere. Every where you turn there is clever advertising usually on a cowboy theme. When we returned to our hotel one evening the World's most famous Cowboy was showcased and lit up wonderfully on the hotel's wall. During the busiest week in the tourist season people here still stop to give a friendly greeting and ask where your from = showing a genuine interest in you as a person and not just another tourist.
While strolling the Olympic Plaza we came across this lovely group of bronze statues of the famous five or sometimes called the valiant five standing in an inscribed circle. The women were all from Alberta, in 1927 they asked for an answer to a question in the Supreme Court of Canada "Are women persons?" At this time in history only men were allowed to be appointed to Senate. The case was then taken to the High Court in London and eventually they won their case =
Emily Murphy became the British Empires 1st. woman judge
Irene Marryat Darlby became 1st. Cabinet Minister
Nellie Mooney McClung was a leading suffragette
Louise Crumny McKinney became 1st. legislate elected assistant
Hennrietta Muir Edwards founded the Victorian Order of Nurses
More power to your elbow girls I enjoyed my cuppa in your company
During Stampede and Christmas, Calgary businesses get into the spirit of the season by having local artists decorate their windows. The results are eye catching and often humorous. As you notice more and more displays, you begin to recognize the style of different artists, even though each display is unique. The sad part is that in a few weeks the windows will be washed and the pictures so lovingly created will be gone forever. Next year, a new batch of eye-candy will be adorn the windows.
For the whole month before the Stampede, you can get unlimited ride passes for the amusement park portion of the Stampede for much cheaper than it costs to buy per ride / day pass on the grounds. Checkout any local Safeway grocery stores for details.
Especially good deal for kids who never quit!