Written by Patrick B. Lane (ISN) – Photo courtesy of Kelly Collins (ISN)
July 4, 2013, Calgary, Alberta (ISN) – This is the new theme of the Calgary Stampede thanks to a quote made by President Ken Thompson; the day after the fairgrounds was flooded with over 10 inches of water as the heavy rains pushed the rivers bow and elbow to overflow their banks.
Such a sight never before seen in the history of Calgary and it’s world famous rodeo. For the past 100 years the tradition has continued, starting the first Friday in July with a parade through the downtown core to the grounds several kilometers away. Visitors come from far and wide to witness this homage to the days gone by of the old west to blend into the days of modern country; many popular acts perform at the yearly event until this year.
It was announced that all of the concerts had been canceled as the water damage to the Scotia Saddledome where the concerts were to be held would not be ready in time. Although seen as a major blow to the event, locals are still upbeat and filled with the stampede spirit. Many hotels have reported that there have been no cancelations due to the recent flooding. Streets are lined with vendors selling cowboy hats and western wear, and people fill the streets and bars of the city center. Many wear hats and boots and other cowboy attire and most businesses have Howdy Pardner or Happy Stampede painted in their windows. Some put straw out and build mock corrals around their entry ways or sidewalk seating.
The theme of “Come Hell or High Water” has become so popular with locals and the stampede board that even t-shirts are being sold to raise money for the victims of the floods. They also are selling shirts for kids with come heck or high water as to not offend the parents. Crews have been working around the clock and every stampede employee was told to report for duty regardless of their department or job to help clean up the park and get things ready for the July 4 “sneak a peek” soft opening. Temporary workers were deployed just days after the rain had stopped and the water had receded to help with the effort and all but the Saddledome will be ready for July 5, 2013; the first year of the next 100 years, or Stampede 101 which was the original theme.
Bull Rider Danny Thomson – Photo Courtesy of Kelly Collins (ISN)
The great depression and two world wars weren’t enough to stop cowboys trying their luck by riding eight seconds of hell in the form of a bucking horse or steer for a big cash prize and an even bigger belt buckle. They come from far and wide to ride in the city’s world famous rodeo as do tourists to watch them which is a big prize for the City of Calgary, businesses and merchants. The yearly event brings in millions of dollars to the local economy and the event and fairgrounds have grown proportionately since its humble beginnings in 1812. The Calgary Stampede has brought both Royalty and world class celebrities to come and join the fun, certainly some high water and river silt isn’t going to stop the advertised “Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth” from moving forward.