calgary stampede ranch, hanna, alberta, calgary

Top 10 Calgary Stampede things to do

Story by Jody Robbins Writer

Chuckwagon driver Kelly Sutherland screams his way to victory in one of the Calgary Stampede’s main spectacles. (Mike Ridewood photo)

CALGARY, ALBERTA — Ready or not, here it comes. The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, is but one day away. The last thing we’d want you to do, is wander aimlessly around Stampede Park, like a hayseed. So nail this bucket list and comment below to win a two-step with yours truly or Editor/city slicker Adrian Brijbassi. You’re welcome.

1. The Parade
Better be up with the roosters and trot downtown early, to pull up a piece of curb, or be left in the dust. North America’s second-largest parade kicks off at 9:05 am sharp, this Friday, with country music legend Ian Tyson as the parade grand marshal. Organizers are predicting this year’s extravaganza will be attended by 350,000 cowpokes (a 75% increase over previous years), with another two million watching via live broadcast. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

2. Pancake Breakfasts
There’s nothing like sausages and flapjacks, fresh off the griddle, to cure any morning maladies. Besides the iconic breakfasts provided daily at Fluor Rope Square and the huge annual one at Chinook Centre on July 7, will steer you straight towards a carb cure, wherever you are in the city.

3. Indian Village
Recreating life as it once was, the Tribes of Treaty 7 set-up their tipis as usual on the south end of Stampede Park. For the ultimate cultural experience, check out The Spirit of Dance: A Pow Wow Experience, that tells the history of Pow Wow and the origins of First Nations. The one hour show, performed by students from Siksika Nation High School, occurs daily at 1 pm.

4. Carni-Food
You can’t really do the midway properly without scarfing down some gut-busting goodies. Start with Those Little Donuts, before moving onto 2012’s culinary delights such as Deep Fried Wagon Wheels, Deep Fried Pickle Chips, Deep Fried Kool-Aid (sensing a theme yet?) and Bacon Sundae Funnel Cake. Nobody said Stampede was easy on the waistline, so suck it up.

5. Outlaw on the Midway
North America’s largest mobile midway, gives adrenaline junkies no shortage of thrills and spills. For classic, white-knuckle adventure, look no further than Outlaw. Named after the legendary Stampede bull, riders blast out of the chutes and dip and twist along the track of this new roller coaster. Even worse, it lasts much longer than the customary eight-seconds, the dudes in well worn wranglers manage (if they’re lucky).

Weaving the tale of three horses, whose interlacing lives created the Spirit of Stampede, this free show plays tribute to the loyal, equine heroes of the wild west. We reckon this top-notch performance can rival any Vegas show, so giddy up on over to the Corral to view one of the three daily performances.

7. Rodeo
With a $2 million purse, the Stampede is the world’s richest tournament-style rodeo (meaning contestants have to qualify in order to compete). From holding on for eight seconds to racing around barrels at breakneck speed to fancy moves with a lariat, contestants with true grit go for broke in front of crowds of 30,000, and that’s no bull.

8. Nashville North
The infamous beer hall, located smack-dab in the middle of Stampede Park, is the place to see and be seen, in between the rodeo and the chucks — and well into the evening. Whet your whistle, two step a little, or size up the fillies (and studs) before getting back in the game on the grounds.

9. The Chucks
And, they’re off! The world’s most famous chuckwagon race, the GMC Rangeland Derby, has come a long way since debuting at the 1923 Stampede. During this controversial event, 36 drivers, 216 horses and their teams of outriders thunder down the track, vying for prize money that totals more than $1 million. You may not understand what you’re seeing, but it’s one thing at the Stampede you have to see.

10. Grandstand Show
Stampede’s version of the Super Bowl halftime show is full of show stoppers and surprises. While we don’t want to give anything away, let’s just say beware of the crowd, who might be so inspired they break into dance at a moment’s notice. Those inclined to do the same, should friend Michelle Neufeldt, on Facebook, pronto.



You’ll flip over the Stampede’s free daily pancake breakfasts. (Tye Carson photo)

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: Garth Brooks, 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 for all the free breakfast spots throughout the Stampede.
More news: Visit the 2012 Calgary Stampede page for more articles, videos and special features.


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 ( and we’ll publish your thoughts and your photos — and those who really impress us will win a travel prize!

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Jody Robbins is a travel and lifestyles writer. Contributing to the Calgary Herald, Today’s Parent and Up! magazine, she divides her time between Calgary and Canmore. She is also the Family Travel Columnist for and the Alberta Regional Chair for the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada, which earned 2.5 million Twitter impressions in its first month for the #Vacay50 hashtag campaign. Jody is active on Twitter (@Jody_Robbins) and maintains her own blog (Travels with Baggage), where you can keep up with all of her latest adventures. When not travelling with her precocious children (one daughter, one husband and one dog), this wannabe foodie can usually be found chowing down at the latest hotspots before attempting to work it all off on the trails.

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