Story by Ryan Massel
Vacay.ca LGBTQ Columnist
To mark Canada’s 150 years since confederation, this year’s overarching theme of the 10-day festival will be “Together” and as always, all people — regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity and sexuality — will be welcomed through the gates to celebrate. More than 1 million people visit the Stampede every year and 2017 is poised to be one of the most well-attended editions because of the national pride bursting through Canada during its sesquicentennial year.
On July 8, the annual unofficial Gay Day will see hundreds of the LGBTQ community from near and far saddle up together at Stampede Park. For its fourth year, Nashville North, a large on-site tented country bar, will welcome the LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly community beginning at 2 pm. The bar will serve as a meeting point for the start of the day’s festivities. From there it’ll be an afternoon of brews and boots as attendees two step the day and night away.
But that’s just the beginning.
Throughout the Stampede, which runs from July 7-16, you’ll be able to partake in events, activities and shows that suit all types of passions.
During the afternoons make sure to check out the Wrangler-wearing rodeo guys and gals as they compete in fast-paced barrel racing, or watch in the evening, when teams race a herd of horses across the finish line during the GMC Rangeland Derby (also referred to as the chuckwagon races).
Concerts Galore at Calgary Stampede
For those keen for music, the Calgary Stampede’s Coca-Cola Stage will host dozens of amazing artists and performances, and those shows are free with your admission to the festival. This year, Canadian icon Nelly Furtado will take the stage as will notables Marianas Trench and Alessia Cara, among others.
If you fancy yourself a culinary expert you may want to take in one of nationally renowned chef Christine Cushing’s presentations on the Kitchen Theatre Stage in the Western Oasis exhibit — which is within the BMO Centre — or wander the midway in search of this year’s “Best of Stampede” or “New Food” delectable edibles. I’ll be judging the “Best of Corn Dog” competition on July 11.
For those who enjoy exploring the many cultures of Canada, the International Pavilion will feature a marketplace and community stage where cultural traditions of music and dance will be displayed. Among the performers will be Infuzion Artistry Bollywood, this year’s headlining group at the pavilion.
As always, one of the most miraculous and spectacular parts of the Calgary Stampede will be the evening’s Grandstand Show, which features 400-plus talented Young Canadians performing in a spectacular show that is not only award-winning but so skilful it rivals shows as big as Cirque du Soleil. And you’ll be treated to a nightly fireworks display that will leave you speechless.
This year, Juno Award-winning songwriter, Canadian treasure and proud member of the LGBTQ community, Jann Arden will take the stage as the host of the Grandstand Show and will perform reworked versions of some of her most popular songs, such as “Good Mother” and “Insensitive,” giving them an extra important Canadian composition.
There will also be areas designated to arts and crafts, a number of free shows that will get your adrenaline pumping and a “Dog Bowl” where adorable pooches will steal hearts during the “Canine Stars” act.
So join in on the 105th Calgary Stampede, which will host 10 days of memorable celebration of Western heritage unlike any seen or experienced at the festival before.
MORE ABOUT THE 2017 CALGARY STAMPEDE
Dates: July 7-16
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 Vacay.ca Coverage: “2017 Calgary Stampede Is Ready to Rope You In” — Writer Jody Robbins’ previews the food, the concerts, the arts events and other highlights coming to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.