Buckle up for Calgary Stampede thrills


Chuckwagon racing icon Kelly Sutherland will be retiring following the 2017 Calgary Stampede. His farewell is one of the many storylines at the 105th edition of the festival. (Julia Pelish file photo/Vacay.ca)

Story by Jody Robbins
Vacay.ca Writer

CALGARY, ALBERTA — The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth set a record for attendance while sticking with tradition. On Friday, the 105th Calgary Stampede opened with a rip-roaring, two-hour parade with more than 700 horses, dozens of bands and numerous floats. Back in 1912 the inaugural Stampede parade was led by over 2,000 Indigenous people in full ceremonial dress. Coming full circle, the 2017 Parade Marshals are the seven chiefs of the Treaty 7 Nations — which are comprised of three Blackfoot Confederacy Nations, three Stoney Nakoda Nations and the Tsuut’ina Nation, whose territories are in southern Alberta.


As usual, the 2017 Calgary Stampede opening parade many eye-catching moments. (Jody Robbins/Vacay.ca)

The overall attendance for the first Friday of the Stampede established a new single-day record when 115,235 poured in for the festivities. That topped the previous daily record of 108,455 set in the Stampede’s centennial year of 2012 and dwarfed the 2016 total (90,887) for the first Friday.

Treat Yourself at the Stampede

Remember that preview Vacay.ca gave you of Stampede’s best beats and eats? The results are in and the “Best New Food – Savoury” found at Stampede Park is the Funnel Cake Poutine from next Generation Concessions. Winning the sweet category was the Mini Donut Chata from Family Squeezed Lemonade.

Everyday there’s a different midway food competition: 2017 Best BBQ on a Bun on the Stampede Midway award goes to Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ for their BBQ Beef Brisket sandwich.

Not to Miss in Calgary

What’s crazy about the Stampede is the amount of free entertainment you get with daily admission. Case in point, Elements of Bollywood is a daily performance, put on by the Toronto-based dance group Infuzion Artistry, which showcases a fusion of traditional and modern style dance, including Bollywood, hip-hop and Bhangra.

“We are always looking for opportunities to bring our guests new and exciting experiences at the Stampede each year,” says Kelsey Van Raay, entertainment coordinator at the Calgary Stampede. “Bollywood Infuzion is sure to add that excitement and flair to our daily entertainment lineup.”

For a craft experience like never before, mosey up to the Maker Market — the newest addition to BMO Centre. In Hall A, Stampede guests can purchase unique, hand-made goods from approximately 60 Western Canadian small businesses, with the majority from Alberta-based companies. The vendors will be selling uniquely designed glass jewellery, hand-made ceramics, hand-knit items, children’s clothes and books, pet supplies, leather goods, art and more.

Each vendor prepares their goods with individual craftsmanship, meaning their products are not mass-produced and are mostly one-of-a-kind. With new vendors setting up shop throughout the 10 days you’ll have every reason to come back multiple times.

Canada 150 Love

Canada Day may have come and gone, but the Stampede will be showing plenty of Canada 150 love on Tuesday. Admission to Stampede Park is just $1.50 until 1:50 pm on July 11. That’s right, partner, all you need is a loonie and a couple quarters to join in the fun.

Stampede guests are invited to watch a live citizenship ceremony, where 50 new Canadians will be sworn in, enjoy Canada 150 birthday cake and play our country’s favourite game at multiple, interactive hockey displays. Olympic gold-medallist from the Canadian women’s hockey team and Sportsnet broadcaster Cassie Campbell-Pascall will be on hand to provide hockey tips.

That day will also see military fly-bys and an all-star Canadian cast on the Coca-Cola Stage with headliner Marianas Trench.

Want to indulge in even more Canadian culture during this Stampede? Don’t miss the chance to experience one of the greatest spectacles in the country at the TransAlta Grandstand Show, “Together.”

Emmy-award winning creative producer Dave Pierce and host Jann Arden are joined by more artists than ever to bring you the grandest celebration of Canadian heritage you can imagine. Tickets to see this extraordinary performance are available at CalgaryStampede.com/Grandstand.

Canadian Cowgirls

New this year to the Stampede is the proud and patriotic Canadian Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team. Flags will be proudly flying while the sound of thundering hooves accompanies music as these Canadian ladies take to the spotlight. The performances take place during all 10 days at Scotiabank Saddledome from 11:30 am to12:30 pm.

Rodeo Heats Up

The temperatures were sizzling and so were the performances in the opening round of action at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo. With more than $2 million up for grabs during the 10 days of competition, contestants know they need momentum on their side.

The most decorated driver in chuckwagon history is saying goodbye this week. But Friday, in opening-day action at the GMC Rangeland Derby, it was Kelly Sutherland’s son who stole the show. Mark Sutherland, racing in the fourth heat, posted a time of 1:12.31.


Stampede parade marshalls

The 2017 Calgary Stampede parade marshals include leaders of Alberta’s First Nations communities. (Jody Robbins/Vacay.ca)

Dates: July 7-16
Website: www.calgarystampede.com
Stampede Park Location: 1410 Olympic Way SE, Calgary, AB
Ticket Packages: A range of ticket packages are available. Visit the Stampede website for details.
More 2017 Stampede Coverage:
“Together” Theme Reigns at Stampede
Calgary Stampede Ready to Rope You In


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 Vacay.ca and the Alberta Regional Chair for the Vacay.ca 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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