When the rodeo came to Edmonton last year, I fully embraced it. I dragged J along to Rexall Place, clad in plaid shirt and braids. I loved the showmanship of it all. When my parent’s visit to Canada happen to coincide with the Calgary Stampede, I couldn’t resit booking us tickets. It did not disappoint.
We toyed with the idea of the evening show but ended up settling on the afternoon rodeo. Some research showed that the evening included a musical show which we weren’t really interested in (though with more time, perhaps we would have). The show started at 1:15pm but tickets included entry to the Stampede Park. We arrived about 11am to have a wander around and see what was there….there was SO MUCH. The park included exhibits and a trade show, a carnival, various shows and displays. We weaved in and out of the stalls, trying on cowboy hats and admiring the western wear. Before too long, we found ourselves with an overpriced beer in hand, clapping along to the stampede band and ‘choosing’ cowboys to support.
The show included women’s barrel races, bareback riding, bull riding and saddleback riding amongst other things. The rodeo is tournament style, culminating in a final on the last day – there’s $2million up for grabs. A lot of cowboys come up from the US and it is a major event on the Western calendar. Without knowing much about what was going on, we really, really enjoyed it. It was a good three hours long too, with music in the intermission. Well worth the money we paid! Tickets were obviously a range of prices but we paid about $40. Ticketmaster let you see the view from your seat so we had a good idea about what we were getting for out money. It is worth knowing that you can also buy tickets on the day, standing room only.
We spent the rest of the day in the beer garden (we are English after all), watching people have a go on the mechanical bull, and taking a look at the agricultural exhibits. I think you could easily spend a few days there, watching the sheep dog competitions, sheep shearing and so on. There was so much we only got a glimpse of.