The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth
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, a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuckwagon racing and First Nations exhibitions.
The Stampede’s roots are traced to 1886 when the Calgary and District Agricultural Society held its first fair. American promoter Guy Weadick launched his first rodeo in 1912 and returned to Calgary in 1919 to organize the Victory Stampede to honour soldiers returning from World War I. It became an annual event in 1923 when it merged with the Calgary Industrial Exhibition to create the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.
Organized by thousands of volunteers and supported by civic leaders, the Stampede has grown over the years into one of the world’s richest rodeos and a significant tourist attraction for the city. Rodeo and chuckwagon racing events are televised across Canada. The Stampede has been criticized in recent years by animal welfare groups concerned about particular events as well as animal rights groups seeking to ban rodeo in general.
Calgary’s national and international identity is tied to the event. It is known as the “Stampede City”, carries the informal nickname of “Cowtown” and the local Canadian Football League team is known as the Stampeders. The city takes on a party atmosphere during Stampede: office buildings and storefronts are painted in cowboy themes, residents don western wear and events held across the city include hundreds of pancake breakfasts and barbecues.