The Calgary Stampede: Western Values

The Calgary Stampede is an integral part of the history of tourism in Canada. It dates back to 1886 when the first Calgary Exhibition took place. At that time Calgary was a small town and home to 500 people. The exhibition was sponsored by the Calgary and District Agricultural Society and official land was purchased in 1888 from The Dominion of Canada. The original site was 94 acres and located in Southeast Calgary and was christened Victoria Park in 1889. A racetrack, cattle sheds were added as agricultural events became more popular. 

Events at The Calgary Stampede 

There are many events to take in during the ten-day Stampede. The Stampede Casino offers dining as well as games and there is a small theatre that hosts live entertainment, corporate events, and parties. The Stampede Agriculture exhibition features everything from the Annual Bull Sale and Horseshoe Competition to the Dairy Exhibition, farm tours, metal art and light horse presentations. The Stampede Agriculture events are integral in connecting urban and rural communities. 

The Grandstand Show is the highlight of the Stampede and sells out, so be sure and buy tickets early. There are value events for families, many free events and be sure and head downtown to start your day with a big breakfast at Rope Square! 

Calgary Stampede History 

The Calgary Stampede as a separate outdoor event featuring rodeo events was inaugurated in 1912. Back then it was called, “Frontier Days and Cowboy Championship Contest”. Guy Weadick, an American trick roper, gathered four investors with the intention of putting on a world class rodeo event. Indeed, the first Stampede was a roaring success with over 100,000 spectators and over $20,000 in prize money. In 1923 both events were combined. Guy moved to Calgary so that he could work on the Stampede year-round. 

In 1954, 15 additional acres were purchased from the city to make the site 114 acres. The grounds have added another racetrack, a larger exhibition hall, and a curling rink. With the 1988 Olympic Games coming to Calgary, the Saddledome and The Roundup Centre were added to the site. In the last decade more land has been added as well as a fifteen-year $550 million dollar package of projects to increase and expand the Stampede. 

Today, the Stampede is world famous and has over $1,000,000 of prize money and approximately 1.2 million spectators during its 10-day run every July.  The parade alone has 350,000 spectators and starts the Stampede every year. The Stampede is unique in that is a volunteer based, not for profit local organization dedicated to promoting western heritage and values. There are year-round facilities and events with all revenue invested back into the organization.