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A Chat With a Stampede Tent Bartender


We’ve all thought it. Who would actually WANT to bartend the Stampede, aside from the cash? Well, it’s about time you think about all the reasons why you should. That is, if you can handle what it will throw at you. What we found out is that the money is a pretty big deal. And a few other things that may/may not shock you.

We had the opportunity to sit down with a mega babe Stampede tent bartender and ask her ALL OF THE THINGS we’ve all been dying to know about what working the Stampede entails. We told her we would keep her name and place of employment to ourselves, if she let us share her answers with Stmpdr and all of you. We can’t thank her enough!

What position did you have last Stampede? What are you doing this year? 

I have always worked the stampede as a bartender, NOT a beer tub girl, thank god. Bartending is a little more dignified in that we are protected by a bar and can dodge the creeps and weirdos by keeping busy with a barrier between us.

How many years have you worked it? Does your role or responsibility change yearly? 

This will be my fourth Stampede working as a bartender. I have maintained the same position each year along with the same level of responsibility including: beer counts, delegating work for my bartending assistant, being efficient and fast while attending to the demanding patrons at a given time and managing thousands of dollars independently knowing when to cash drop and follow simple math during end of the night cash outs. 

Ok the real question we all want to know: how much $$$ do you make Stampede week?

Each day is so different, it really depends on what event is happening, what corporate parties you are serving, how people are tipping and how busy you are. I have never walked away from stampede with anything less than $7,000. That is including my hourly wage. Keep in mind we are working 14-16 hour shifts every day for 10 days sacrificing sleep, hunger and our sanity over this annual event. 

What is the craziest thing you’ve seen? 

Besides the number of men that pee in the hay bails instead of using the washrooms and the endless hookups that are borderline sex on the dance floor…the one thing that always shocks me (that shouldn’t anymore after years of being in the bartending industry), is the number of people that remove their wedding bands. I watch it happen at my bar, right in front of me numerous times every year and it never ceases to disgust me.

What’s it REALLY like? Tell us something you’ve never told anyone before.

What it really comes down to is the money. Bartenders don’t choose to do this for the love of the job. It’s exhausting and stressful. We want to be on the other side of the bar enjoying the debauchery but many of the people I work with are paying off student loans, rent and or credit card debt. I am lucky I work off of the grounds. Our tent doesn’t allow young adults experiencing their first beer or Stampede. There are little to no fights, a minimal amount of pukers in compared to the other tents, and we are not overstaffed so we are all making good money and getting good shifts/bars. The people I work with have majority been the same people in the last four years. We feel like a family and all look out for each other. This will be my last year in the industry because I am becoming too cynical and jaded. 

How much sleep do you probably get a night? 

The last couple of years I have worked have been so much better about not opening up the tent too early. We are operating on an average of 4-7 hours of sleep. Depending on when the tent opens in the morning. 

Have you ever met someone you ended up dating after the fact? 

Being a bartender is equivalent to speed dating. I get to experience a glimpse into the lives of many Calgary men. The man I am with today, I met briefly at Lilac Festival but continuously ran into each other at the bars I worked at and Stampede being one of them. He was so persistent I eventually threw in the towel and gave in. But, this story ends well. He is seriously one of the most amazing people I know and I am so happy I chose to work in this industry otherwise I don’t know if we would have ran into each other again. I am a homebody. Bartending and serving are the best jobs to meet people. Single bartenders and servers are rare. 

What do you do to prep before Stampede week? Rituals? Work out like crazy? 

Each bartender needs a care package prepped including: Cold-FX, Vitamin C, Advil, ear plugs, protein bars, Gatorade, 5 hour energies, tiger balm, bandaids, two pairs of shoes, mouthwash, a brush, and a flask (half kidding). I try to work out just to build stamina before hand but the Stampede is a diet and workout in itself. We always make jokes about who lost the most belt loops by the end. You are guaranteed to go down at least three because of lack of eating and drinking. Meal prepping healthy meals and sleep is usually what I focus on. During the stampede  I always book a massage half way through because my back hurts so bad I can barely lift another bottle. 

Why do you do it? Besides the killer cash you make in 10 days. 

Dollar bills, girl. No other reason. This money pays for an entire year of university and has the past four years of my education. I graduate this spring therefore I will not longer be participating as a bartender after this summer, only as a degenerate customer! I’ve earned my right to pee and puke on other peoples bars in the future stampedes to come (again, I’m only half kidding).

Anything else you could tell us that might surprise us?

The house tip for most bartenders is 8% which means, if you aren’t tipping at least 8%, us bartenders have just paid to serve you and if you aren’t tipping at least 8%, we aren’t making money. Times are tough right now but please for the love of god, if you can’t afford to go out and tip then stay home! 

We gotta say, 150 hours of chaos at approximately $48/hour sounds dreamy, but now we know what it truly looks, feels and consists of. Thanks to the beautiful bartender for sharing her insight on what these 10 days are actually like. After all, these are the souls that supply us with all the booze to have the “best time with our boots on.” Thanks to all the bartenders and beer tub girls (and boys) who make it all happen! Stmpdr loves you.

Jamie Geddes
Jamie Geddes
Slightly obsessed with knowing everyone’s story. Beware, she will ask you for it. She’s still learning how to survive Stampede, 2 years in, but is determined to master how to two-step because she believes finding love at the Stampede CAN happen.