After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event’s first-ever cancellation in 2020, and 2021 saw Stampede organizers take some public health precautions, this year’s event is set to return to normal. But how will it compare to the more than 100 previous years of celebrations?
“This year definitely represents a return to a pre-pandemic level of full Stampede,” said Cassandra Cummings, a historical specialist with the Calgary Stampede, “with all of the events and attractions that guests expect and enjoy.
“The 10-day event continues to grow and respond to reflect the needs and interests of the community, continuing to be a gathering place, on its original spot, since the beginning.”
The beginning of the Stampede parade
The Stampede first began in 1912 after Guy Weadick, a New Yorker who became captivated by the cowboy lifestyle, returned to Calgary with a vision to create a frontier days celebration and championship.
E.L. Richardson, the manager of the Calgary Exhibition (which began in 1886), introduced Weadick to prominent businessmen and local boosters, who gave Weadick money and tasked him with creating the “greatest thing of its kind in the world,” according to the Calgary Stampede.
“(In 1912), the event featured a competitive rodeo and a parade which was attended by 80,000 people — double the size of Calgary’s population at the time,” Cummings said. “The parade was also led by 1,800 First Nations peoples. And families from Treaty 7 nations camped in Victoria Park, forming the original Elbow River Camp, which remains an essential part of Stampede.”
Cummings noted that during that time, the Stampede also offered a place where Treaty 7 participants could preserve and share their traditions, during a time when the government “was enacting cultural genocide.”
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Following the inaugural event, a second Stampede wasn’t held until 1919, after the end of the First World War.
The evolution of the midway
The midway has been a part of the event since the very beginning and has always promised the attractions within it to be “unique and extreme,” according to Cummings.
“The definition of extreme may have changed, but I think that’s something that also still applies,” she said. “There is something for everyone, and many are tried-and-true favourites.”
Cummings said a mix of new and old favourites also applies to the Stampede’s famous food trucks.
The rodeo rages on
The rodeo is also one of the events that has been around from the very beginning, said Cummings, along with the showcase and agricultural elements.
“Many parts of the 10-day celebration are the same, or have evolved from the original event,” she said. “Other events followed shortly after. 1923 is the year that the Exhibition and Stampede combined into one event, and is also the year that chuckwagon racing first happens, and the first pancake breakfast.”
The 2022 Calgary Stampede Parade takes place on July 8. Global Calgary is the 2022 broadcast partner of the parade, providing an Alberta-wide broadcast on Global Television beginning at 9 a.m.; as well as the Global TV App, GlobalNews.ca, the Global News Youtube Channel, Global Calgary Facebook Live and Amazon Prime.
Parade coverage will be hosted by Global’s Dallas Flexhaug, Blake Lough, Leslie Horton and Jeff McArthur.
For more information on this year’s event, click here.