Shortly after celebrating Canada’s 145th birthday on July 1, Calgarians get ready to celebrate the Calgary Stampede’s 100th year anniversary. This year the Stampede celebration begins on July 6 and continues until July 15. Billed as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” it is no surprise that there is great excitement in the city during the festival.
The Stampede has something for everyone. Not only is it home to one of the world’s largest and most famous rodeos, there are also the chuck wagon races, the midway, and agricultural competitions as well as stage shows and concerts, which keep all ages entertained. Even the youngest members of the family can enjoy the festivities with rides, great food, and games. The Stampede Parade held on the first Friday of the event, marks the official opening of the festival; Thousands of visitors and locals line the streets of the city centre, where they can enjoy the spectacle of floats, horses, marching bands, to name a few.
The Calgary Stampede also has a vast commercial space that is located in the BMO Centre, where many retailers lease out the space to display and sell their merchandise. This 410,000 sq ft retail space on the northwest corner of the park displays and sells local art work, household goods, food items and many other wares.
The market space is not the only attraction at Stampede Park; there is also the Saddledome, Corral, Big Four Building, BMO Centre, a convention and exhibition facility, a casino, the Stampede Grandstand, the agriculture building, as well as facilities for the livestock shows. According to articles posted by the Calgary Sun (Stampede Park on July 8, 2011) and Calgary Herald (Calgary Stampede Park Moves Ahead with $400-million Expansion on Nov 9, 2010): There have been attempts to move the location of Stampede Park, however, other than the expansion of the park into the Victoria Park community in 2007, the park has stayed in its original location. The expansion in the Victoria Park community will include a new retail and entertainment district, an urban park, a new agricultural arena and potentially a new hotel; these improvements are expected to cost the stampede organization in the region of $400-million. Although this expansion was scheduled to be completed by 2011, a series of economic challenges has pushed the potential completion date to 2014.
The Stampede Breakfast is a tradition that is well received in the city. Dozens of pancake breakfasts are held during the week of Stampede. The largest of these is held at the Chinook Centre shopping mall, with hundreds of volunteers serving over 60,000 people during the event. Many other locations in and outside the downtown region serve pancakes and maple syrup, sausages, hash browns, juice and coffee. All Stampede Breakfasts are free to the public, with a few suggesting a donation to the local food bank. There is music, square dancing, face painting, and much fun to be had.
The Stampede has a great economic impact on the city of Calgary. According to the article ‘Calgarians Big Stampede Spenders’ posted in the Calgary Herald on July 11, 2011, “Stampede officials estimated in 2009 that the city of Calgary had a gross economic impact of $172.4 million from the ten-day event alone, with a wider provincial total of $226.7 million. In terms of economic impact, the Stampede is the highest grossing festival in Canada, ahead of Ottawa's Winterlude, the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, and the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal. Additionally, Stampede officials estimate that for every dollar spent at Stampede Park, tourists spend $2.65 in the rest of the city. A poll conducted in 2011 found that 40 percent of Calgarians who intended to attend the Stampede expected to spend $150–$400 over the course of the event, and 7 percent stated that they would spend more than that.
Finally, the Calgary Stampede promotes Calgary to many across the world. “According to Ralph Klein, former mayor of Calgary and premier of Alberta, the Stampede symbolizes the province's spirit. He cited the friendly and welcoming attitude and festival spirit of the city's populace during the event, which community booster groups export around the world”.