Story by Jody Robbins
CALGARY, ALBERTA — This is no time for horsing around.
July 6 is coming up fast cowpokes, and now is the time to rustle up your Calgary Stampede attire. From Wranglers to Stetsons to barely there Daisy Dukes (less is not more, cowgirls), Calgarians and their guests, pull out all the stops, perfecting the ultimate urban cowboy look.
Get a move on by booking a personal styling consultation ($125/hour) at Studio Gorgeous, in Fashion Central. Karen Judge will help you dress for your body type and budget, working your own closet, without having to invest in Wranglers you’ll wear only once a year.
Legendary Smithbuilt Hats top the heads of thousands of visitors each year, including foreign dignitaries like Will and Kate. Their white hats have become the internationally recognized symbol of the City of Calgary, so you’ll want to snag their limited edition Stampede Centennial Hat ($1,500) soon. Made of 100% pure beaver in a specially chosen colour new to Smithbuilt, these are more than a few quality grades above the hats that come free with a case of Corona. Centennial Hats come with a custom sterling silver buckle, special edition number and your name printed on the inside. All are custom fit and hand shaped to your specification.
Root for Roots
With jackets and several styles of classic bags, Roots Canada is putting the centennial stamp on several handcrafted leather products.
Our favourites? The sporty Rodeo Bomber Jacket ($550) and Messenger Bag ($319.95), perfect for keeping essentials at your side while two-stepping around the beer tents.
Cowboys sport their jewels below the waist — just. Intricate belt buckles are worn to show off their recent championships (or maybe just to get you to look down). Deck out denim with centennial poster buckles made by Montana Silversmith, available in pewter ($21.95), brass ($59.95) and gold or silver ($149.95).
You may be kitted out, but don’t forget to pimp your ride. Splurge on a hand-crafted, limited-edition saddle ($4,995) exclusively built for the centennial, by legendary saddle maker Vic Bennett. It may sound expensive, but only 100 of these one-of-a-kind works of art are being created; and it’s already been deemed one of 10 best travel souvenirs for 2012, according to CNN.
Now that you’re all duded up, it’s time to put those fashions to the test. Ensuring you don’t have two left feet come Stampede time. Ranchman’s offers country dance lessons ($10) Monday through Friday at 7 pm sharp. If you can’t look good on the dance floor, at least attempt to hold on for eight seconds on the mechanical bull. And if that fails, show some spirit at the Centennial launch.
100 Day Kick-off
Mosey on over to Olympic Plaza, Thursday, March 29, from 11:30 am to 1 pm for the official Centennial kick-off. There’ll be entertainment, some very special announcements and everybody’s favourite Stampede foods (we smell mini-donuts, but you never know, could be prairie oysters). Use the occasion to break in your boots and get used to wearing a cowboy hat.
Let Them Eat Cake
And what’s a party without cake? In 1931 the Stampede baked a massive three-tiered cake (the world’s largest at the time) to celebrate the birthday of one of the original “Big Four” sponsors. Fast forward to 1962 and the Stampede made a five-layer, nine-footer, to celebrate its Golden Anniversary. Fifty years later, cakes are back to help us celebrate the Centennial. There’s even a Cake Posse to bring free cake to community celebrations across the city. Contact the Posse to have them show up at your event.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll publish your thoughts and your photos — and those who really impress us will win a travel prize!