|JULY 4, 2014
What’s the “call out” for the Calgary Stampede? Yaaa-Hoo!! That was heard all day. Our day started with a 6 AM wake-up to catch the 7:15 shuttle from the campground to downtown Calgary. The parade started at 9 AM and all streets into the downtown were closed at 7:30. The Shuttle was $28 round trip for both, to park was $25 – if you could figure out how to maneuver downtown find a spot. Well worth the cost.
The parade was 3 hrs. long and lived up to the hype. We think Poultry Days is a big deal – this is HUGE! We talked to a couple with two sons marching in select bands. They said downtown businesses/offices virtually shut down during the Stampede (July 4-13). Tom & I were admittedly under-dressed. Cowboy hat, boots, jeans, shirt and bandanna were the uniform of the day. We did have on jeans so they let us in. We found prime places along a fence on a raised office courtyard. Bleachers were set up all along the parade route and seats were sold for various charities. I checked online a few weeks ago and all were sold out.
Many ethnic groups call Calgary and the surrounding area home. All were represented in the parade. The First Nations (Indian Tribes) were very well represented. Their tribal dress was very detailed and colorful. The marching bands were 140-200 strong and very professional. The Stampede has 3 bands that represent them. The Showcase Band that travels all over the world and performs at competitions, festivals and parades, the high school band and a junior high band. The HS band is going to Brazil next month and the JH band is performing in Minneapolis in August.
After looking at the train lines we took the short 15 minute walk to the Stampede grounds. Tickets were still available for the evening chuckwagon races so we bought those. Stampede is like a big State Fair without the animal exhibitions. Instead there were many animal competition finals being held. The venues were very up to date. We watched the heavy horse, cattle penning and sheep penning competitions. We particularly enjoyed watching the quarter horses and riders work the cattle. Watching the rider and horse work together was something to behold. The sheep herding gave us the most laughs. Apparently this was a particularly stubborn herd (?) of sheep. They would stay in one quarter of the ring and either ignore the dog or attack him. We never saw one sheep penned! The last one we watched the dog and 3 sheep were at a standoff and the sheep licked the dog’s nose! After one dog’s time was up it took 7 people chasing the sheep to get them into the pen!
We certainly enjoyed the Percherons and Clydesdales competition with cart and wagons. They were fancied up for the occasion and had ribbons and flowers in their manes and tails braided. We were certainly caught up in the “horse people” atmosphere today.
There were 12 venues with entertainment going on throughout the day. Lines were long to get into Nashville North and the Coca Cola stages. The age group was also about 40 years younger than us.
Our seats for the evening were in the last row of the lower section and under cover. We appreciated that because there was a brisk wind blowing. We learned that Chuckwagon Racing is a big competition across Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Just like car racing it is usually generational in families. There were 9 heats of 4 wagons each. And it was fast, furious and lots of fun to watch. After the races there was an hour long musical show. Loud, colorful & lots of special effects. They showcased Alberta talent and used a theme honoring the chuckwagon racers. Loverboy was the closing act.
After the musical there was a fabulous fireworks display. Again we heard lots of oohs & aahs- ours among them. WOW! We then joined the mad rush to get out of the grounds and find our shuttle bus. Luckily we exited right, walked half a block and found our bus. We were a little concerned because the show ran a half over and were told the bus would leave at midnight.
The show was delayed about 40 minutes for a “technical difficulties”. Later we found out that animal rights advocates had chained themselves to the racecourse trying to prevent the races. We finally arrived at our RV at 12:45 AM.
With our arrival in Calgary we logged 2200 miles since last Saturday night. Off to Banff in the morning
Hope everyone had a nice 4th of July. Sorry we missed the York reunion, Hope your day was a fun-filled as ours.