Story by Jody Robbins
CALGARY, ALBERTA — Yep, Garth Brooks is coming to Cowtown, for what’s likely to be the greatest indoor show on earth. Sadly, friends in low places won’t get you in the door, despite the unbelievably low ticket price ($62 all in) for the July 12 performance. Tickets sold out faster than you can say Rodeo. Fortunately, a generous Calgary couple has started Project Garth, donating a pair of tickets to one lucky couple deserving to be at the Saddledome for the concert of a lifetime during the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. Deadline for submission is May 31. Email your story to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re more comfortable on a beach than a bull, you can feel some good vibrations when original the Beach Boys come together for the first time in two decades with their golden 50th Anniversary Tour on July 11 (now known as the day before Garth). Tickets for the Saddledome show start at $49.50 and are on sale through Ticketmaster.
Or, that same afternoon you can fast forward three decades to hear The Tragically Hip, Matthew Good and 54-40 crank out tunes at Stampede Roundup, the only Stampede event you won’t mind being up to here in road apples. Warning: there’ll be several middle-aged lawyers and engineers looking awkward in Wranglers at this event. Calgary’s largest corporate Stampede bash, draws over 15,000 worker bees to Fort Calgary in support of Rotary Flames House. Besides the bands, who can miss those beans and beef on a bun served up by sober Rotary volunteers?
No Rain on This Parade
But singers don’t just perform at the Stampede, they also lead the parade. Canadian country music icon, Ian Tyson has been named the 2012 Parade Marshal. The Stampede will also honour its historical partnership with the tribes of Treaty Seven First Nations and has invited the seven chiefs of Treaty Seven to ride as Honourary Parade Marshals.
Kicking off promptly at 8:55 am on July 6, this two-hour extravaganza winds it’s way through 6th and 9th Ave., S.W., entertaining the crowds with over 100 entries including marching bands, floats and horses — plenty of horses. Seating can be found curb-side, but you’ll need to be there at crack of dawn to snag a seat. A better bet is to reserve bleacher seating for a small fee.
Ridin’ and Flyin’ High
A new roller coaster, named in honour the Stampede’s famous bull, “Outlaw,” will be the first midway ride to carry the Calgary Stampede brand. Much like the original Outlaw (who was considered one of the rankest animals in the world of rodeo), riders will have to hold on tight as they blast out of the chutes, dipping and churning their way along the rails.
And ride junkies will be able to experience Stampede Park from new heights this year. Soaring 80 feet above the midway, North America’s longest temporary zipline (850 feet) will reach speeds of more than 60 km an hour. Best to save those mini-doughnuts and all things fried-on-a-stick until after, when your feet are firmly on the ground.
Let There be Light
No matter which area of Calgary you’re in, you’ll be able to experience the festival atmosphere in a massive, city-wide fireworks celebration. Light up the City, a nightly fireworks display in four quadrants of the city: Elliston Park, Heritage Park, McCall Lake, and Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park, will become the largest international-scale fireworks display in Canada. Taking place on both weekends of the Stampede, the 12-minute show synchronized to music and simulcast through local radio stations, will start between 11 and 11:30 pm.
The Lucky Red Ticket
Set your watches! On Wednesday, May 9, at 11:30 am local time in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto, 200 wristbands will be distributed to all members of the public, allowing participants into a special-designated area loaded with white cowboy hats. The symbol of western hospitality, one of these white hats, will contain a red envelope enabling the barer to privileges rivaling Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket. The VIP prize package for two includes round-trip airfare, accommodation in Calgary plus tickets to Calgary’s top attractions including the Zoo, Calgary Tower and Glenbow Museum. But the big Kahuna is a two-day Stampede package with rodeo tickets and a VIP behind-the -scenes chuckwagon experience.
Giddy up cowpokes. With two months to go, the countdown is heating up!
MORE ABOUT THE 100th ANNUAL CALGARY STAMPEDE
Dates: July 6-15, 2012
Rodeo tickets: Prices range from $12 for standing room to $389.25 for lounge access that includes a three-course dinner. Visit the Calgary Stampede’s website for details.
Other event tickets: Brad Paisley and Johnny Reid are among the headline concert acts announced for the 2012 Stampede. You can find concert tickets and tickets to other events, including the nightly “Century” show featuring Paul Brandt & the Young Canadians, at the Stampede’s website.
Free breakfast: Visit Flapjackfinder.com for all the free breakfast spots throughout the Stampede.
More news: Visit the Vacay.ca 2012 Calgary Stampede page for more articles, videos and special features.
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 (email@example.com) and we’ll publish your thoughts and your photos — and those who really impress us will win a travel prize!
Note: Photos courtesy of Calgary Tourism.