12 October 2010

Calgary stampede

They call it "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth"! Well, it's certainly big and interesting, but whether its "the greatest" is open for discussion. It's hard to explain what it is all about except by showing it in pictures. So, here come the photos we took from out visit to the Stampede:

First important element of the Stampede is the attire, which should include a cowboy hat, cowboy jeans/skirt, and I think most will have realised the pattern! We got Anais a particularly nice hat so that she could pass for a real little cow-girl.

The stampede is traditionally about farming. Oh, and beef is big in Alberta...

A large section of the stampede grounds are taken up by farmers showing off their prime cattle, horses, and even a few sheep. All the animals take part in competitions to be the finest specimens in their class.

Anais got to pat a cow and a fluffy little sheep.

In case of an invasion, the stampede is also a fairly attractive place to be. As it happens the Royal Canadian Forces also take up a large swath of land to display some of their hardware! Here's Anais with her Daddy sitting on a torpedo mounted with a horse-saddle... somehow we get a flashback to a scene from "Dr. Strangelove".

Perfect camouflage for a tank in front of big arena...?

Lunch! We were warned that food and beverage prices on the stampede grounds were virtual rip-offs so we brought our own. Turned out that though things were a bit pricy, it wasn't that bad. Anyhow, we had a nutritious lunch at a nice little green spot.

Slightly less nutritious, but certainly to Anais' liking.

The biggest part of the Stampede is devoted to fun-fair rides. There was a section for child-friendly rides, where Anais passed the height restriction on about half of the rides.

First a roller-coaster ride, which Anais clearly enjoyed.

Then a more relaxed truck-drive... Anais could easily be mistaken for a real trucker =:)

Then a very challenging one! Anais was absolutely tense during the whole minut this thing was going up and down, but afterwards she seemed really happy and proud of having lived up to the challenge.

Finally a quiet trip for all the Clouds in the ferris wheel.

But the Stampede is more than just farm animals and fun-rides. A highlight is the acrobatic ice-show, which is free when you've paid the entry to the stampede. Only catch is that you're not guaranteed a seat! Fortunately, we arrived at the venue just as the doors had opened and we could walk in to get some rather decent seats. The 2010 show was titled "A Rock 'N Roll Fantasy", hence the band and the stage in the one end of the ice-arena. Anais really enjoyed the first half of the show with all the action on and off the ice. The last half, well she probably enjoyed it too, only in her dreams. Due to all the impressions she drowsed off and took a well deserved nap.

Here's why it is called an acrobatic ice show. About half of the show was devoted to skating while the other half featured various acrobatic performances. This woman was dangling from the ring doing all sorts of stuff you should not try at home.

And then some skating. This guy, named Elvis Stojko, was one of the most popular performers. He's somewhat of a national hero in Canada. Pretty good at skating too, if I may say so!

Then some more acrobatics. A guy called Dominic Lacasse, nicknamed "The Human Flag", showing off an above average muscle strength as he defies gravity.

Then some more figure skating to famous rock tunes from AC-DC, Pink Floyd, Guns 'N Roses, Metallica, U2, The Beatles, and many more.

Another highlight were the appearances of the 2010 Olympic gold medalists and world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. That would have been ok, as such, but the fact that they are Canadian adds a whole new dimension to their popularity =:)

Then another acrobatics act.

And a finale with a grand goodbye from all the performers. Our verdict was that the show in itself was certainly worth the stampede entrance fee.

But hang in there, the Stampede is more than just animals, fun-fair, and ice-show. It's also features several giant halls for shopping. Much of the stuff actually had some "wild-west" appeal, but a lot of the things for sale seemed awfully misplaced - take the one in the photo!

Lots of clothes for sale too. Obviously you'd want to dress up even the smallest cowboys in the family.

But there's even more to the Stampede! How about a live broadcast of a cooking show!

And it's not even finished! The Stampede is also about eating and what could be more appropriate than a barbecue steak burger! That's a really wholesome slice of meat, basted with barbecue sauce, grilled, and then stuck in to a burger bun. The culinary verdict is "so so"!

And just when you think you have seen it all, you realise that most wild-west stories also feature indians. Hence, the Stampede would not be complete without an Indian Village - and, yes, that is what it is called. Apparently, the word Indian has not been replaced by Native Canadians/Americans. Anyhow, the village was made up of teepees decorated with the style used by various tribes from the Alberta area.

And finally, the Stampede is VERY much about competitions. The two main ones are the Rodeo and the Chuckwagon Races. These are serious competitions with the winners collecting a very handsome cash prize. Unfortunately, we were a bit late to decide when to go to the Stampede, and thus could not get any affordable rodeo tickets. That's a thing to do next year.

Time to bid the Stampede farewell. Truly, it is a big show, market, competition, etc.


Jonas said...

Looks great fun. I love the photos of Anais with the ice cone and in the roller coaster!

Also, from Wikipedia:
A stampede is an act of mass impulse among herd animals or a crowd of people in which the herd (or crowd) collectively begins running with no clear direction or purpose.

Did you feel like that?

Eleanor Lee said...

Anais is a big girl now!
Good to see all these pictures. Hope you all had fun in Canada