Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Calgary Stampede 2014

I have now lived off and on in Alberta for nearly 10 years and prior to my 35th birthday I often lamented that I had never been to the Calgary Stampede. So, this year for my birthday Chrissy surprised me with a special belt buckle gift and a note proclaiming that my true birthday gift was that we were going to the Stampede.

First off - I love this belt buckle! A man fighting a bear sacrificing the left arm to attack with the right is badass. Completely unknown to Chrissy I have an affinity for this image as it nearly mirrors one of my favorite comic books of all time; Weird Western Tales #32 where Jonah Hex fights a bear in a similar manner. As soon as I saw the buckle I ran downstairs to my comics and showed Chrissy the image below. I don't think she realises some days just how much of a nerd I am.

Wearing my belt buckle proudly we attended Stampede. Our activities while there include:

Stampede Parade

Chrissy and I stayed downtown on the Thursday night so I could take in the parade and Chrissy could attend some work meetings on Friday morning, After watching the parade on TV for so many years I was looking forward to seeing the spectacle live.

Even the horse poop street cleaners were decorated

Those of you who know me well know that I can't stand still for long, let alone a whole parade. Eventually I started walking towards the beginning of the parade route to get the full parade experience at half the time. As I was walking I noticed people watching the event from the sides of parkades. Nearing the start point I climbed the stairs to the 6th floor of a parkade and took in the birds eye view.

Chuckwagon Racing

As near as I can tell it's been about 25 years since I last seen a chuck-wagon race. I don't really remember much of my previous experience with the exception of the excitement watching cowboys standing on those rickety wagons hooting and hollering at their horses. On the opening night of the overall competition we arrived to the venue early and were treated to an impromptu interview with the Calgary Stampede Parade Marshall, William Shatner.

Suspenders were a good purchase

Following a delay (apparently PETA protesters slowed things down) the races began.

Some of us couldn't contain our excitement - others simply played it cool.


Neither Chrissy or myself like midway rides. However, we both love the ridiculous greasy food, games of chance and the lights and cacophany sound that comes from the midway. 

Cowboy Cuisine

Looking to get the full Stampede experience I found a place serving the pinnacle of cowboy cuisine, Prairie Oysters (aka bull testicles). 

They were served pate style on a cracker and were completely and udderly (cow pun!) disgusting. I held them down but it was a struggle. I have no desire to ever have them again.

The Peace Bridge

When not revelling in "Cowboy Halloween" on the Stampede grounds we wandered through downtown Calgary taking in the sights. Eventually we found our way to their trails along the Bow River and at the Peace Bridge. The bridge has been quite polarizing between those who believe in hawkish financial restraint and those who advocate for aesthetics in public projects. I think it looks great and as an Edmontonian am very jealous of the beautiful river crossing.

Other Highlights

Browsing through a 'few' boots at Riley & McCormick Western Wear

Working dog competition

Creepy mascots

Retaining my mini-golf championship

I thoroughly enjoyed the Stampede but it is not an experience that I feel I need to repeat every year. Maybe in a couple more summers we'll head south and do it all again, except for the testicles,,,

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