stmpdr fills the “what’s happening during Stampede Week” void and we’re glad you along for the ride.
What is it about Stampede Week in Calgary that gets us just jacked, energized and ready to party? Maybe because it’s the one time of year that Calgary loosens up and truly enjoys itself. Sure, Sled Island, Folk Fest, CIFF and our Mayor do similar things, but nothing will take this title away from the Calgary Stampede. Nothing.
The Stampede has been around for years, like 102 years, and as Calgarians we have this love/hate relationship that defines who we are and sets our course for many a conversation with people not from Calgary. You know, the old “Hey, where’re you from?” convo that inevitably includes some mention of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.”
“What? You’ve never heard of Calgary? What about the Stampede?”
“Oh yes! Now I know.”
I can remember as a kid being dragged to the Stampede Parade, woken up at the god-awful hour of 6am, hustled out of my room, fed, dressed in some ridiculous garb with tassels and a kids cowboy hat that never did fit properly, and shoved onto a crowded bus and LRT heading downtown, likely with my face stuck in some grandma’s armpit, and all the while feeling sorry for my poor Mom who did this with me and my two brothers every single year.
Kids Day was the same. Only earlier to not miss the free pancake breakfast.
Then came my teenage years when the Stampede became more of a date night-thing and “hangout” than anything else. I got to stay out late, get into trouble with my friends, see shows and take part in stuff I really should have told my parents about in person rather than writing about on some website. I remember seeing The Odds and Wide Mouth Mason on the Coke Stage (now Coca-Cola Stage. When did THAT happen?). I remember the fireworks and holding hands. I remember being scared shitless of getting into a fight.
As I got older I stopped going to the Parade, cursed the thought of so many people entering our quiet town and clogging up our motorways, and tried desperately to book some form of vacation during Stampede Week, much like every other Calgarian. I was bitter. I was against it all. And I don’t like that “me” now. Not one bit.
Yes, the city fills up during those 10 days in July. Flights to YYC seemingly double in number. It heats up. There is music everywhere, smiles on peoples faces, pancake batter wafting in the air, everyone’s out having a good time. Pretty awesome. Today, the Stampede still puts us on the global map, but it also acts as a catalyst to let our hair down and relax for a few days, shut things down. It’s also a time to try something new, meet up with old friends, or catch a show.
Stampede Week is turning into a season of events too: Badlands Music Festival, #BikiniEspy, Content Saloon (2013), BIG (2013), among others that are riding this wave of great things happening in Calgary at the same time and for the same reason – to bring people together.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say what I tell everyone I chat with these days about Stampede Week: “It’s like SXSW in that it started as one thing and has completely morphed into something way bigger, wider and all encompassing.”
Are we all they way there yet? To its full potential? Heck no. But we’re getting close. stmpdr is along for the ride, hoping to share every minute of it. And I hope you’re coming with us.