Calgary proudly bears the nickname “Cowtown,” and rightly so, as the Calgary Stampede is one of the biggest and most storied PRCA events. Celebrating its 98th anniversary in 2010, the tenday, citywide Stampede attracts 1 million visitors each year and is a snapshot of the Canadian West. You’ll see Mounties, First Nations people, railroads, cowboys, and oil derricks in this part of Alberta, and it’s only a short drive to the Canadian Rocky Mountains and Banff National Park.
As early as June, a stampede of volunteers starts gearing up for the rodeo, passing out 10,000 white cowboy hats to get the locals excited. A large music festival runs concurrently with the event, and free pancake and chuck wagon breakfasts are held throughout the city, along with other free attractions, like horse-drawn carriage city tours, parades, and marching band and dance performances.
The $1 million event on Showdown Sunday, known as “Rodeo’s Richest Afternoon,” is a high-intensity rodeo with ten qualifiers competing at once. The four highest scores or fastest times advance to the lucrative Showdown round. Fans also love the thrill of the nightly GMC Rangeland Derby, for which 36 drivers, 288 horses, and their teams of outriders compete in nine nightly chuck wagon races for more than $1.15 million in prize money.
Stampede Park is only minutes from public transportation routes and hotels, restaurants, and other popular city attractions. And Alberta has no provincial sales tax, so don’t miss Stephen Avenue Walk for shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. For dancing and socializing, belly up at Cowboys Bar & Nightclub or Ranchman’s Cookhouse and Dancehall. To really enhance your rodeo experience, stay at the Homeplace Ranch, a year-round working dude ranch located near Banff .
WHERE: Calgary, Alberta
WHEN: July 9–18, 2010
MORE: Calgary Convention & Visitors Bureau, http://tourismcalgary.com