Jump to: navigation, search

Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede

Rider at the Stampede rodeo
Location(s) Template:Country data Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Inaugurated 1886 (Exhibition)
1912 (Stampede)
Date(s) July 9–18, 2010
Genre Rodeo and fair
Attendance 1,186,000 (2009)[1]
1,262,518 (record – 2006)
Website Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival held every July in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The ten-day event, which bills itself as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, attracts over one million visitors per year and features the world's largest rodeo,[2] a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuckwagon racing and First Nations exhibitions. Calgary takes on a party atmosphere during Stampede; residents don western wear and events held across the city include ever popular pancake breakfasts and barbecues.

The Stampede's roots are traced to 1886 when the Calgary and District Agricultural Society held its first fair. American promoter Guy Weadick launched the first rodeo in 1912 though the second was not held until 1919 when the Victory Stampede was organized to honour soldiers returning from World War I. A 1923 merger with the Calgary Industrial Exhibition created the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede and it has been an annual event since. Over two million people visit Stampede Park annually as events are held throughout the year.

With over $2 million in prizes, the Stampede is among the richest rodeos in the world and attracts top competitors from across North America. The risk of injury or death to horses and calves has led to calls by animal welfare groups to ban the calf roping event, chuckwagon racing or in some cases, the entire rodeo.



File:Program for 1912 Calgary Stampede.jpg
The Program for 1912 Calgary Stampede featuring the Big 4: Burns, Lane, Cross, and McLean
Stampede in-field and the Stampede Showband on the stage

The Calgary and District Agricultural Society was formed in 1884 to promote the town and encourage farmers and ranchers from eastern Canada to move west. The society held its first fair two years later, attracting a quarter of the town's 2,000 residents.[3] By 1889, it had acquired land on the banks of the Elbow River to host the exhibitions but crop failures, poor weather and a declining economy resulted in the society ceasing operations in 1895.[4] The land passed briefly to future Prime Minister R. B. Bennett who sold it to the city. Naming the area Victoria Park after Queen Victoria, the city leased the land to the newly formed Western Pacific Exhibition Company which introduced a new agricultural and industrial fair in 1899.[5]

The exhibition grew annually, and in 1908, the Government of Canada announced that Calgary would host the federally funded Dominion Exhibition that year. Seeking to take advantage of the opportunity to promote itself, the city spent C$145,000 to build six new pavilions and a racetrack,[6] held a lavish parade and rodeo, horse racing and trick roping competitions as part of the event.[3] The exhibition was a success, drawing 100,000 people to the fairgrounds over seven days despite an economic recession that afflicted the city of 25,000.[6]

Guy Weadick, an American trick roper who participated in the Dominion Exhibition as part of the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Real Wild West Show, was drawn back to Calgary in 1912 in the hopes of establishing an event that more closely represented the "wild west" than the shows he was a part of.[7] With the assistance of local livestock agent H.C. McMullen, Weadick convinced businessmen Pat Burns, George Lane, A.J. MacLean, and A.E. Cross to put up $100,000 to guarantee funding for the event.[3] The Big Four, as they came to be known, viewed the Stampede as a final celebration their life as cattlemen.[8] The city built a rodeo arena on the fairgrounds and over 100,000 people attended the six-day event in September 1912 to watch hundreds of cowboys from Western Canada, the United States and Mexico compete for $20,000 in prizes.[9] The Stampede made $120,000 and was hailed as a success. The city was nonetheless not convinced of the viability of the rodeo and it was not held again until 1919 when Weadick was invited to organize the Calgary Victory Stampede to celebrate the city's soldiers returning from World War I.[3]

Calgary Exhibition and Stampede

File:Patsy Rodgers stage coach 1a.jpg
Patsy Rodgers was the first Stampede Queen in 1946 and is seen here as the Parade Marshal in the 2008 Stampede Parade

The Calgary Industrial Exhibition continued its annual fair but faced declining attendance into the 1920s. In 1922, it approached Weadick in the hopes he would join his Stampede with the fair and hold both in conjunction. Weadick agreed, and the union created the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.[10] The combined event was first held in 1923, and Weadick encouraged the city's residents to dress in western clothes for the event and decorate their businesses in the spirit of the wild west.[3] Civic leaders truly supported the event for the first time; Mayor George Webster followed the suggestion to dress western and allowed downtown roads to be closed for two hours each morning of the six-day event to accommodate street parties.[10] The new sport of Chuckwagon racing was also introduced in 1923 and proved immediately popular.[11] 138,950 people attended and the event earned a profit.[10] Over 167,000 people attended in 1924 and the success guaranteed that the Stampede and Exhibition would be held together permanently.[12]

The 1925 silent movie The Calgary Stampede used actual footage from the rodeo and exposed the event to people across North America. It was the first of at least five movies filmed at the Stampede by 1950.[13] Attendance suffered during the Great Depression but rebounded during World War II. While the Canadian National Exhibition ceased operations during the war, the Stampede remained active and offered the public an escape. Attendance had grown to 300,000 by 1942 – three times the population of Calgary.[12] Hollywood stars and foreign dignitaries were attracted to the Stampede. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby both served as parade marshals during the 1950s,[14] while Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip made their first of two visits to the Stampede in 1959 as part of their tour of Canada.[15] The Queen also opened the 1973 Stampede.[16]


The event's growth necessitated expansion of the exhibition grounds.[16] The Stampede Corral was completed in 1950 as the largest indoor arena in Western Canada and played host to the Calgary Stampeders hockey team, both of which were operated by the Stampede Foundation.[17] The Big Four Building opened in 1959 to serve as the city's largest exhibition hall.[14] Attendance topped 500,000 for the first time in 1962 and reached 654,000 in 1966 prompting organizers to expand the event from six days to nine in 1967 and then to ten one year later.[16]

Attendance exceeded one million for the first time in 1976.[3] The park, meanwhile, continued to grow. The Round-Up Centre opened in 1979 as the new exhibition hall, and the Olympic Saddledome was completed in 1983.[18] The Saddledome replaced the Corral as the city's top sporting arena, while both facilities hosted hockey and figure skating events at the 1988 Winter Olympics.[18]

Maintaining the traditional focus on agriculture and western heritage remained a priority for the Stampede as the city grew into a major financial and oil hub in Western Canada.[18] Aggie Days was introduced in 1989 as a means to introduce urban schoolchildren to agriculture and proved immediately popular.[18] A ten-year expansion plan called Horizon 2000 was released in 1990 detailing plans to grow Stampede Park into a year-round destination for Calgarians,[3] while an updated plan was released in 2004.[19] Attendance plateued around 1.2 million in recent years, with the current record of 1,262,518 set in 2006.[20]



Beginning shortly before 9AM on the first Friday, the parade serves as the official opening of Stampede.[21] Each year features a different parade marshal, chosen to reflect the public's interests at that time. Politicians, athletes, actors and other dignitaries have led the event over the years.[22] The event features dozens of marching bands, 170 floats and hundreds of horses with entrants from around the world,[21][23] and combines western themes with modern. Cowboys, First Nations dancers, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in their red serges are joined by clowns, bands, political and business leaders.[24] The first Stampede Parade in 1912 was attended by 75,000 people, greater than the city's population at the time.[25] As many as 350,000 people attended the parade in 2009.[21]


The Stampede rodeo is the largest,[26] and most famous event of its kind in the world.[27] Offering a prize of $100,000 to the winner of each major discipline and $1,000,000 total on championship day, it is also has the richest payout in the world.[28] There are six major disciplines – bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie down roping, saddle bronc and bareback riding – and four novice events – junior steer riding, novice bareback, novice saddle bronc and wild pony racing.[29]

Chuckwagon racing

File:Stampede chuckwagon race.JPG
Chuckwagon races are a popular attraction at the Stampede

Chuckwagon racing was introduced in 1923 after Weadick invited ranchers to enter their chuckwagons and crews to compete for a total of $275 in prize money.[30] Nicknamed the "half-mile of hell",[31] and known officially as the Rangeland Derby, 36 teams of competitors compete for $1.15 million in prize money.[32] Prior to each Stampede, drivers auction advertising space on their wagons. The auctions, which generated over $2 million for the 2010 Stampede,[33] are considered an indicator of the strength of Calgary's economy.[34]


When the agricultural exhibition was first launched in 1886, Alberta was an overwhelmingly rural province. Today, agricultural producers make less than two percent of the province's population,[35] but the exhibition remains an integral part of the Stampede. Nearly half of all visitors attend the 50 agricultural programs that are organized by more than 1,000 exhibitors.[36] In addition to livestock auctions, exhibits and competitions, the Exhibition serves to educate the public about Alberta's ranching and agricultural heritage through events like Agrium Ag-tivity in the City.[37]


The Stampede midway has been operated by Conklin Shows since 1976.[38] The midway is unique within the Stampede, as it is the only aspect of the event operated on a for-profit basis.[39] It is considered an essential component of the Stampede, but exists separate of the central western themes that dominate all other aspects of it.[40] The midway opens on the Thursday night before Stampede opens and is known as "sneak-a-peak" night.[41] In addition to the traditional rides and carnival games, the midway features two concert areas - the Coca-Cola Stage and Nashville North, which feature rock/pop and country music respectively, and draw acts from all over North America.[42][43]


The tradition of pancake breakfasts dates back to the 1923 Stampede when a chuckwagon driver by the name of Jack Morton invited passing citizens to join him for his morning meals.[44] That act of hospitality has grown over time. Today, dozens of companies and community groups hold free breakfasts and barbeques across the city each day. The largest, by far, is the breakfast hosted at the Chinook Centre shopping mall. Enjoying its 50th anniversary in 2010, 400 volunteers are required to feed over 60,000 people who attend the one-day event.[44] Other groups, such as the Calgary Stampede Caravan, expect to feed as many as 120,000 people over the ten days of Stampede.[45]

Animal welfare

Animal advocacy groups have voiced concern over the Stampede and rodeos in general. The Stampede has countered that they protect the safety of animals, years go by without losses, and they cannot avoid all accidents. After every accident resulting in the death of a human or loss of an animal, the Stampede conducts a review which results in safety modifications.[citation needed]

In 1986, 12 horses were lost during the Stampede (most were euthanized because of injuries), making that year the worst for loss of stock. As a result, the Calgary Stampede implemented major safety changes to make collisions less likely. Between 1995 and 2005 there have been 21 horse deaths at the Calgary Stampede.[46]

The worst animal accident for a single event related to the Stampede was on July 3, 2005.[47] Nine horses were lost after jumping off a bridge and into the Bow River. The accident occurred during the Trail 2005 trail ride from the Stampede's ranch to the city. The incident occurred five days before the beginning of the Stampede. Shortly after the accident, the Calgary Police cleared organizers of any criminal fault, upon finding no willful intent to cause cruelty.[48] The Stampede's internal investigation was released in December of the same year and failed to identify the cause. It did rule that the accident was not caused by sudden noise, as was speculated at the time. With its press release, the Stampede indicated they would not try again unless they could ensure safety. Though no future rides were planned, the option to have one in the future was left open.[49]

In 2009 the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun both refused to run an ad by the Vancouver Humane Society depicting supposed cruelty in the calf roping rodeo event.[50]

Also in 2009, four animals were killed at the Stampede. Three chuckwagon horses died[51] and one steer had to be euthanized after incurring a spinal cord injury during the steer wrestling event.[52]

Stampede Park

The Calgary Stampede takes place at the Stampede Park, located southeast of downtown Calgary in the Beltline District. The park is serviced by Calgary Transit's light rail system, the C-Train, as well as neighboring property owners who rent parking spaces during the 10 days of the festival. Permanent structures at the site include the Pengrowth Saddledome (hockey arena), the BMO Centre (a convention and exhibition facility), a new Stampede Casino, the grandstand/racetrack, the agriculture building, and a number of smaller buildings. A major expansion and upgrading of Stampede Park is currently underway. It will likely include a new hotel, a new "main street" retail and market area, a new agriculture building, underground parking, and an extensive re-landscaping of the outdoor areas.

See also

  • Festivals in Alberta
  • Reg Kesler


Notes </dt>

  1. "Feds give Stampede $1-million boost", Calgary Herald, 2010-05-10, http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Feds+give+Stampede+million+boost/3007147/story.html, retrieved 2010-05-19 
  2. Baker, Linda (2009-01-20), "A boom in office towers in Calgary", New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/21/business/21calgary.html, retrieved 2010-05-16 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Dudley, Wendy (1997-07-03), "Guy's Stampede dream", Calgary Herald: p. SS2 
  4. Dixon 2005, p. 26
  5. Dixon 2005, p. 27
  6. 6.0 6.1 Dixon 2005, p. 29
  7. Dixon 2005, p. 30
  8. Foran 2008, p. 5
  9. Dixon 2005, p. 32
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Dixon 2005, p. 36
  11. 2009 Calgary Stampede Evening Show Program, Calgary Stampede Board, p. 8 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Dixon 2005, p. 38
  13. Foran 2008, p. 10
  14. 14.0 14.1 Dixon 2005, p. 42
  15. A royal Calgary Stampede, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, http://archives.cbc.ca/on_this_day/07/09/, retrieved 2010-05-18 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Dixon 2005, p. 43
  17. Foran 2008, p. 12
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Dixon 2005, p. 44
  19. Dixon 2005, p. 45
  20. Calgary Stampede attendance falls slightly, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2009-07-13, http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2009/07/13/calgary-stampede-attendance.html, retrieved 2010-05-19 
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 2009 Stampede parade, CTV Calgary, 2009-07-03, http://calgary.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090703/CGY_2009_calgary_stampede_090703/20090703/?hub=CalgaryHome, retrieved 2010-05-28 
  22. Dixon 2005, p. 14
  23. Gandia, Renato (2009-07-03), "Let's get this party started", Calgary Sun, http://www.calgarysun.com/news/alberta/2009/07/03/10018071.html#/news/alberta/2009/07/04/pf-10020401.html, retrieved 2010-05-28 
  24. Foran 2008, p. 74
  25. Dixon 2005, p. 11
  26. Baker, Linda (2009-01-20), "A boom in office towers in Calgary", New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/21/business/21calgary.html, retrieved 2010-05-16 
  27. Foran 2008, p. 205
  28. $1 million Sunday lives up to its billing at Stampede, CanWest Media, 2008-07-14, http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/story.html?id=ce1fbe0d-d4ff-4f0d-b3ff-cec5311a633b, retrieved 2010-05-21 
  29. Rodeo, Calgary Stampede, http://cs.calgarystampede.com/events/rodeo/, retrieved 2010-05-21 
  30. Chuckwagon races – History, Calgary Stampede, http://cs.calgarystampede.com/events/chuckwagon-races/history.html, retrieved 2010-05-21 
  31. "Calgary's half-mile of hell", The Globe and Mail, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/calgarys-half-mile-of-hell/article1211519/, retrieved 2010-05-21 
  32. Chuckwagon races, Calgary Stampede, http://cs.calgarystampede.com/events/chuckwagon-races/, retrieved 2010-05-21 
  33. Down, John (2010-03-05), "Stampede tarp auction rebounds with $2M take", Calgary Herald, http://www.calgaryherald.com/sports/Stampede+tarp+auction+rebounds+with+take/2643131/story.html, retrieved 2010-05-21 
  34. Lewis, Nick (2009-03-19), "Tarp auction tells tale of Calgary's economy", Calgary Herald, http://www2.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/story.html?id=4c5dd667-6bf2-420a-a78d-50ef7db4cf0a, retrieved 2010-05-21 
  35. Dixon 2005, p. 106
  36. Dixon 2005, p. 107
  37. "Agrium Ag-tivity in the City". Calgary Stampede. http://ag.calgarystampede.com/events/429-agrium-ag-tivity-in-the-city.html. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  38. Foran 2008, pp. 118–119
  39. Foran 2008, p. 113
  40. Foran 2008, pp. 112–113
  41. Highlights for Thursday, July 2, 2009, Calgary Stampede, 2009-07-03, http://cs.calgarystampede.com/blog/2009/07/02/highlights-for-thursday-july-2-2009/, retrieved 2010-05-25 
  42. Coca-Cola stage, Calgary Stampede, http://cs.calgarystampede.com/music/coca-cola-stage.html, retrieved 2010-05-25 
  43. Nashville North, Calgary Stampede, http://cs.calgarystampede.com/music/nashville-north.html, retrieved 2010-05-25 
  44. 44.0 44.1 Fortney, Valerie (2010-07-08). "Chinook Centre hosts 50 years of breakfast fun". Calgary Herald. http://www.calgaryherald.com/travel/stampede/Chinook+Centre+hosts+years+breakfast/3249995/story.html. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  45. Dormer, Dave (2010-07-09). "120,000 expected at Stampede breakfasts". Calgary Sun. http://www.calgarysun.com/news/Stampede/2010/07/09/14659826.html. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  46. http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/calgary_stampede/
  47. "CBC article - Stampede tragedy". http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/calgary_stampede/. 
  48. "CTV - Stampede accident". http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1120844249736_116253449/?hub=Canada. 
  49. D'Aliesio, Renata. "Horse Fatalities: Stampede will not rule out city rides". Calgary Herald. December 17, 2005. page B1
  50. http://www.cbc.ca/sports/story/2009/06/29/rodeo-ad-humane-society-calgary-stampede-calf-roping.html?ref=rss
  51. http://www.winnipegsun.com/sports/othersports/2009/07/13/10114991.html
  52. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2009/07/09/animal-steer-dies-calgary-stampede.html#socialcomments

General </dt>

  • Dixon, Joan; Read, Tracey (2005), Celebrating the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, Canmore, Alberta: Altitude Publishing Canada Ltd., ISBN 1-55153-939-X 
  • Foran, Max, ed. (2008), Icon, Brand, Myth:The Calgary Stampede, Athabasca, Alberta: Athabasca University Press, ISBN 978-1-897425-05-3 

External links

Coordinates: Template:Coord/input/dms


Premier Equine Classifieds


Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of the latest news, articles and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Did You Know?

Modern horse breeds developed in response to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain physical characteristics in order to perform a certain type of work... More...

The Gypsy Cob was originally bred to be a wagon horse and pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos; a type of covered wagon that people lived in... More...

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Arabian horse bloodline dates back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade.... More...

That the term "Sporthorse" is a term used to describe a type of horse rather than any particular breed... More...