The Calgary Stampede: The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth

For ten days each July, Calgary, Alberta plays host to an iconic event that attracts over a million visitors per year. A world-class celebration, it is held in Stampede Park, located by downtown Calgary - which is made up of several permanent structures, including convention and exhibition facilities, a casino, an agricultural building, and the iconic Saddledome arena. Among its most prominent aspects are its famed rodeo events and encouragement for visitors to dress up like cowboys. Join as we learn more about the Calgary Stampede.

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The Calgary Stampede: The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth

This annual festival is billed as “the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” Welcome to and today we’ll be learning more about the Calgary Stampede.

For ten days each July, Calgary, Alberta plays host to this iconic event that attracts over one million visitors per year. Originally intended as a way to promote the town and draw farmers and ranchers from eastern Canada when it debuted in 1886, this celebration has grown tremendously since its inception.

Since then, the Calgary Stampede has emerged as a world-class celebration and one of Canada's greatest tourist attractions. The event is closely linked to Calgary's character and global identity, as evidenced by the city's nicknames “Cowtown” and “Stampede City.”

Today, the Stampede is held in Stampede Park, found in downtown Calgary. Not only does this venue play host to this yearly festival, it also hosts several permanent structures, like convention and exhibition facilities, a casino, an agricultural building, and the instantly recognizable Saddledome arena. Stampede Park is a gathering place for Calgarians and tourists alike thanks to the variety of events and entertainment that takes place there.

The Calgary Stampede celebrations are kicked off each year by celebrity guests, while national leaders are also in attendance to participate. Visitors can take part in the festivities by joining residents in embracing the style and spirit of the Wild West. You'll definitely see your share of cowboy hats while in this neck of the woods, which is another way of promoting western heritage and values.

Travelers to this event are met with a variety of different activities in which to partake, like a parade, fair, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions and exhibitions by First Nations peoples. The festive atmosphere of the Stampede also includes such local traditions as large-scale pancake breakfasts.

Meanwhile, the region's best rodeo athletes and livestock are showcased in the famous Rodeo. This event features skilled athletes and cowboys who entertain crowds with several offerings.

For example, chuckwagon races see thoroughbred horses zip around a track, guided by their drivers. This fast-paced event is one of the Stampede's most popular, and the Stampede's chuckwagon races are the most famous in the world.

Another rodeo event is the ladies barrel racing, where female riders work together with their horse to race around barrels in the shape of a clover, in the fastest time possible. This is the sole women's only event at the Stampede.

Challengers in the bull riding competition prove their bravery by trying to stay mounted on a large bull, while he tries to buck them off. It is the most dangerous event of the festival. Saddle bronc and bareback bronc are similar sports, except instead of riding a bull participants sit atop a bucking bronco that is either saddled or unsaddled.

Steer wrestling is another dangerous event: cowboys jump from their horse onto a galloping steer and wrestle it to the ground by its horns with their bare hands. Finally, tie-down roping sees riders rope a calf with a lariat, jump from their horse, and tie three of its legs together as quickly as they can.

This furious and action-packed tournament of events builds to the Stampede's final display, known as “Showdown Sunday.”

Despite its popularity, the Calgary Stampede has been targeted by animal welfare groups who consider the activities inhumane. Animal injuries and deaths have prompted significant international pressure, and organizers have undertaken significant overhauls to better assure the animals' safety, since they are the true stars of the show.

Concerns aside, the Calgary Stampede is one of Canada's most compelling and welcoming attractions. Thanks to its wealth of activities and culture, the event features something for everyone for memories that will last a lifetime.

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