2012 Calgary Stampede Countdown: Fighting words

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Posted February 6, 2012 by Adrian Brijbassi in Alberta
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Although popular, the Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon races have drawn the ire of animal-rights activists. (Bill Marsh photo)

Story by Vacay.ca Staff

Bob Barker barked. Rodeo cowboys bit back. And Brad Paisley was roped.

The Calgary Stampede’s centennial celebrations are still five months away but plenty of news is already happening around the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

Vacay.ca is taking a regular look at highlights, travel deals and upcoming announcements related to what’s sure to be the biggest party on Canadian soil in 2012 — unless the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup (hmmmm … like we said, the Stampede will be the biggest party in the nation this year). Here’s a look at what’s going on around the Stampede, which runs from July 6-15:

TAKING ON BOB

Bob Barker was host of “The Price Is Right” forever but for a moment he may have mistaken himself for Richard Dawson. Although the words “Let’s play the feud” weren’t uttered last week, Barker drew angry fire with his statement that the Stampede should be stopped because he believes the animals are treated cruelly.

Stampede organizers and rodeo participants immediately wanted to hog-tie the former game-show host, whose outburst came after a contestant on the show that’s now hosted by Drew Carey won a sweet prize valued at $25,329 to this year’s festivities.

According to the Stampede’s website, the Calgary Humane Society and Alberta SPCA have “unfettered” access to the 7,500 animals that take part in the events.

Bull rider Scott Schiffner was one of many who objected to Barker’s portrayal of all rodeos and particularly the Stampede as “just cruel and unsavoury forms of entertainment that should be stopped altogether.”

Speaking to QMI Agency on Friday, Schiffner said of critics: “If they sit down with any rodeo stock contractor they would understand within 10 minutes most of these animals, 95 percent, are treated better than most people’s kids are.”

Animals do die at the Stampede, though, with chuckwagon racing and tie-down roping (sometimes called calf roping) being the events considered most dangerous. Organizers annually address safety issues and often make rules changes to better protect the animals. Barker riled up some cowboys, but no doubt also received applause from animal-rights activists too with his words. As the opening of the 100th anniversary of the Stampede nears, we’re likely to hear more about this issue.

What do you think? Is the Calgary Stampede cruel or are critics out of line? Comment below or email editors@vacay.ca with your thoughts.

PRIMED FOR PAISLEY

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Brad Paisley tickets go on sale February 11 for his Calgary Stampede show. (Photo courtesy BradPaisley.com)

Brad Paisley will hit the Saddledome stage on Saturday, July 14, which is likely to be the most lively night of the event as the Stampede wraps up. The appearance of the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year was announced on Friday and tickets go on sale this Saturday, with a starting price of $39. The opening act will be Grammy-nominated The Band Perry.

To order tickets, visit Ticketmaster.ca or snag a concert series ticket package at calgarystampede.com/tickets.

The other confirmed headline music performer is Johnny Reid, the superb Canadian singer and two-time Juno Award winner. Some tickets are still left for his Saddledome show on July 13.

Also, Paul Brandt and the Young Canadians will be participating in “Century,” a nightly TransAlta Grandstand Show performance featuring songs from the past 100 years. Find tickets here.

HOT TRAVEL DEAL

The Stampede’s own website has numerous packages on offer and Vacay.ca recommends the “All-In Package,” which costs $215 and includes:

  • Stampede Park entry
  • Level 1 Centre Rodeo ticket
  • All-you-can-eat concession fare and four drink tickets
  • Reserved parking with re-entry privileges
  • Collectors edition Rodeo souvenir program

A minimum of two packages must be purchased per order. Visit the Stampede’s website to secure this deal and for additional details.

SHARE YOUR STAMPEDE MEMORIES

Got something to say about the Stampede? Want to share some of your great travel photos and stories about the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth? Email Vacay.ca (editors@vacay.ca) and we’ll publish your thoughts and your photos — and those who really impress us will win a travel prize!


About the Author

Adrian Brijbassi
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Adrian is the editor of Vacay.ca and his articles are frequently syndicated by the Huffington Post and appear in the Globe & Mail. He makes regular appearances on CTV News, TSN Radio and CJSF Radio, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. A former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing and fiction, and has visited more than 30 countries. He is also a judge for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and spearheaded the Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada list that debuted in April 2012.

 
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