Last year, I avoided the Calgary Stampede like the plague because there literally was a plague happening. Therefore, I didn’t have any anecdotes to share. This year, I felt a bit braver and decided to take advantage of the free stuff and the discounted travel passes again. I’m not going to tell you which parks I went to… yet. I guess you can tell I’m good at keeping secrets. Still, I managed to get some juicy Stampede anecdotes for you to cut your teeth into. The pancake breakfast I wrote about was a whole story in its own right, and you can read it here.
The Day Before The Stampede:
Here’s what I have noticed from being in Calgary during the Stampede. There’s an official time frame for the Stampede. This year it was from July 8-July 17. I have noticed there are some Stampede-related events starting the day before it officially starts. So, if anyone asks me, I say that the Stampede unofficially starts the day before they say it starts. There are mini-concerts before Nashville North kicks off, and there are a few pancake breakfasts and some other events.
For those of you who don’t know what Nashville North is, it’s the country music venue for the Calgary Stampede. Make sure when you Google it that you include Calgary Stampede with it or you will get something that is not in Calgary.
After experiencing a Stampede pancake breakfast, I was amazed at how this is a wonderful promotion for the small businesses of Calgary! Churches and community centres do pancake breakfasts for their communities too. Okay, there are some large businesses that host pancake breakfasts, but I just avoid them. Still, I would sure like to shake hands with the genius that came up with free Stampede pancake breakfasts! Having learned about marketing and promotion, it’s interesting to see these small businesses get creative with promoting themselves for pancake breakfasts. I was slow-clapping OMO Teppan and Kitchen for their creativity in marketing themselves and snagging new customers in a friendly, pleasant way!
Traffic and Public Transport:
If you take public transport during the Stampede, you have to be prepared for any rerouting. Additionally, it’s Roadworks Season in July, so that adds extra pressure to rerouting. Google Maps doesn’t always keep up with the changes, so it’s important to be creative about finding routes. It’s better to take the bus than the light rail, even though the buses are at risk of being rerouted.
The light rail runs trains every few minutes during the Stampede, but they are still completely packed like sardines in a tin! Half the train gets off at Victoria Park Stampede and the other half gets off at Erlton Stampede. Yes, Stampede Park is so large it spans TWO light rail stations!
Still, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the discounted day passes during the Stampede! Half the time during the Stampede, I will be out for the day and the other half, I will be trying to sleep it off. City noise from the Stampede goes late into the night and I found it’s best to get out and exhaust myself so I am more likely to sleep right through it. If the noise wakes me up, I just think, “Crazy Cowboys!” and just roll over and fall asleep again.
I was walking down Macleod Trail, the main road next to Stampede Park, on Day 1. It was a TOTAL CLUSTERFUCK! Keep in mind I spent seven years living in the traffic capital of the West Coast (California). Scratch that. California is the clusterfuck capital of the West Coast! I thought nothing could surprise me, but apparently not. It wasn’t so packed later, which was surprising too. Make up your mind, traffic!
Victoria Park Stampede vs. Erlton Stampede:
When I first went by both those stations on the light rail, my first impression was that Victoria Park Stampede is a creepier station than Erlton Stampede. If I’m in the area, given the choice, I go to Erlton Stampede. After living here a year, I found out Victoria Park Stampede was getting station upgrades that will be finished next year. I’m hoping that the structure will make it less creepy, but we’ll see.
They did get rid of one creepy element of the station though. There was a 38-year-old ramp above the station that got demolished last October. It’s affectionately known as the Piss Ramp for reasons I don’t need to elaborate on.
Anyway, Mum and I somehow found ourselves getting off at Victoria Park Stampede during the Calgary Stampede. The people on the platform were packed like sardines! All of a sudden, water dripped from the station roof and Mum said, “Was that the Piss Ramp?” I said, “I was wondering the same thing!” I think there’s a Piss Ramp ghost that is haunting the place.
You Will Always Be In Our Noses:
I can’t move on to the rest of my post without mentioning the Victoria Park Stampede Piss Ramp. When it was demolished, some radio presenters did a eulogy for it. Watch it here if you don’t believe me.
It was quite a culture shock for me to see this eulogy. I shared it with friends who have either lived in or visited San Francisco, New York and Berlin (aka cities where there are lots of areas that smell like piss!). It blew their minds that Calgarians would eulogize a piss ramp!
I had one question though. Were the organizers going to install more toilets at Stampede Park now that the ramp is gone? Those of you who know me know I have my little ways of getting information. So, let’s just say that answer was a resounding NO!
Okay, back to the Calgary Stampede anecdotes! It was just by chance that Mum and I caught the tail end of the parade on Day 1. We had wanted to go to a pancake breakfast, but the line was too long. Some of the photos I got from the parade were good and some were not so good.
I heard later on that the parade was led by Kevin Costner. He also did a concert at the Stampede and people were raving about it.
The energy in the city was palpable! Seeing people happy and celebrating the full return of the Stampede warmed my heart. Okay, I know the pandemic still isn’t over and I’m still wearing a mask. Here’s how I would describe the energy in Calgary during the Stampede. The line, “Just take a look around you. The city has gone MAD!” is the perfect way to describe it!
Isn’t this the most amazing taxi that you have seen! Great move Calgary!
Mosquitoes and Sunburn:
I can’t do a post about Calgary Stampede anecdotes without mentioning mosquitoes and sunburn. Calgary mosquitoes and sunburn are in a league of their own. If you forget to put sunscreen somewhere that you should, the sun will find it! If I’m in California, I can recover within 1-2 days from sunburn. It takes twice as long here and you need a bucketful of skin soothing lotion with aloe vera in it! Last year was my baptism of fire with Calgary mosquitoes. I thought I had learned that I can’t leave the house without bug spray even if I’m not going to a park. Apparently not. There’s been a lot of rain this year, so there are extra mozzies out. If I forget to take a bath in bug spray before I go out, the bites make me want to take half my skin off for a week!
I can just imagine someone in Calgary who forgets their bug spray and sunscreen saying the following:
Except it’s going to be, “Someone’s gotta go back and get a shitload of sunscreen and bug spray!”
Well, there are my Calgary Stampede anecdotes for 2022. I’m sure there will be more of them in the future! Have you been to the Calgary Stampede? Share your anecdotes in the comments!