It’s Calgary Stampede week!
We have read about it everywhere, everybody told us to go at least for a day, and of course, we decided to go. A lazy wedneday afternoon, we just decide to leave, take the car keys, a hoddie – canadian weather is really unpredictable and so strange! – and here we go.
We park in the zoo parking lot, just outside downtown, and we take the C-Train, the metro line which goes directly into the city center. A nice girl who is going to the Stampede too, help us with the many stops and we are quickly done.
We are still not entered the fair and we have already spent more than 15 $, with 8$ of parking and more than 3$ each for one metro ride.
Once at the entrance, we are requested another 18$ each to enter, and we are taken aback since we thought it was way less, but since we are here, we just enter.
We search for a map to understand where we are, not an easy task since there are little food stands everywhere and we cannot understand too well which one is the main road.
Our first stop, due to a really tasty smell coming from hot dogs, corn dogs, fries and deep fried whatever, is obviously at a food stand. We chose two different ones after visiting a lot of them and in the end we decide for a big filled sandwich and a box of deeop fried chicken and fries with sauces, all of it for the not so cheap amount of 20$, without drinks – we have learned some days ago that is a good rule always to have some water with us, there are no fountains around.
We quickly understand that if you are not wearing boots and a cowboy hat, you are not part of the party here. Even the youngest child and the oldest granny, everybody is dressed following the code, except for us and some other tourists.
We go around discovering this huge party, with Calgary skyline as a background and we have this feeling, is is more a food and carousels fair than not about shows and rodeos.
Except from the main stage, always open with someone playing – as for today, we do not know none of the artists and groups playing – all of the other shows are paying and way too expensive from us, even just to think about it – an entrance ticket to the rodeo, in the last corner on the last step up above, is worth at least 40$, so we decide to go watch some little show in some little city around Carstairs, in the hope to pay less.
We are maybe a little bit late for all the activities, the short free shows are already done and we just have to walk around, among the many stands, one for all the alcoholic one. To get in, we are required to show our IDs and nobody is authorized to leave the stand with a full glass still in his hand. We are in a fence inside the park, a fence for alcoholics actually!
It is something so strange, for us at least. We are used to just go wherever and buy beer and wine, almost with no limits, here we are disoriented. In Canada, just liquor stores are allowed to sell alcohol or restaurant and fast foods, but not the route stands and so on, or supermarkets.
We continue our exploration tour, seeing roasted lamb legs and hamburger as big as pizzas. Some are enjoying a corn on the cob while some others are having a round with the mechanical bull.
Indeed, right in the alcoholic fence, there is a mechanical bull for the dauntless. We decide better not to try it and avoid some shame, while a cowgirl decide to take a chance at it.
Last but not least, we walk towards the indian camp. It would have been better to just avoid it, it is such a sad show: these native american fanilies, now totally “civilized” – I actually have trouble understanding how a population who lived weel on their own, in total respect of the environment, could be less civilized than us, distructors and no-rules-constructors, but this is just my thinking – havin a not convicing representation of their traditions, with fake tepee and hula-hoops. It is a shame, really, and we just stay here to watch the end of the show.
To end our visit, we go back towards the entrance, this time walking a different route, and we enter the oher side of the Stampede, the one dedicated to children and to those who want to have fun: a hugh open air amusement park full of carousels, shooting galleries, candy cotton and whatever one can think about.
Hence, it is quite a family fair, if possible with some money to spend. For sure something to be seen once in a lifetime, and surely more interesting if you can buy the entrance ticket to the rodeo or some other interesting event.
At last, just before going away, we get into a really nice show, even if is not really in the stampede mood. Bycicles, motorcycles, ATVs and also a motorsled doing some great acrobatic tricks on ramps and ground.
We watch it, as many others, behind a fence, with no ticket. They would not be the best places or comfyiest, but we totally cannot afford the entrance tickets.
We are quite tired, we have walked a lot and don’t have anymore to see. We just have a last tour inside the art and crafts pavillon, a big exhibition of every product possible and some art, not really interesting for us. Then we head towrds the C-Train again and still have a little walk in the city when we change line.
In the end, we spend almost 100$ today, paying the parking lot, the metro tickets, entrance, food and all the rest. The Calgary Stampede is something you definetly have to watch once, but it is expensive. We go home with another great experience done, and a lighter wallet!