It’s that time of year again. Yes, the infamous Calgary Stampede is nearly upon us. For many Calgarians, they’ve seen it before and fine tuned their Stampeding process (or high tailed it out of town). For others, they’re getting pumped about the excitement ahead, but it can all be a little overwhelming.
As an ALMOST true Calgarian (does it count if it’s since I was two?), here are my tried and true tips I’ve learned over the years.
1. Buy your midway pass in advance. If you’re planning to go crazy on the midway rides, do your shopping ahead of time. Even if you’re a tourist, you can find a Safeway grocery store. There, you can get your 60 coupons for $37.85, which is over 25% cheaper than if you were to buy those tickets day of on the grounds.
2. Ride First, Eat Later. People, I don’t want to see your twenty minute old corn dog or mini doughnuts make a reappearance.
3. Eat a light meal before you go. Stampede is notorious for having ridiculously expensive food. That said, trying the midway food is part of the experience, but as per point number 2, it’s good to have something light lining your stomach, but not heavy so as to avoid heaving. The last thing you want is to be hungry when you arrive, give into the midway grease, then regret it while you’re on the Zipper. Poor. Life. Choices.
4. Sunscreen. I know, I know, I’m sounding like your mother. But, seriously, it can be boiling on the grounds, especially with all the heat from the generators, so make sure you’ve doused on the SPF 45 to last a bit longer.
5. Wear a hat… a cowboy hat. Really, I shouldn’t have had to say the last part, that should have been a given. Not only will you fit in with the locals, but it will keep your scalp from getting burned.
6. Bring a thin layer. If you’re planning on staying around at night, and why wouldn’t you, then you’re likely going to want something to keep the evening breeze off. We’re also pretty likely to get thunderstorms, so having the extra layer will come in handy in a rainstorm.
7. Hydrate. Beer, yes, but alternate them with a water. Again, the heat from both the sun and the generator will have you drying from the inside out. Bonus – you won’t get trashed as quickly
8. Rodeo or Chucks, one or the other. Unless you’re absolutely loaded and want to spend your entire day sitting, I’d suggest you pick one event or the other. My preference is the chucks, because then you get the Grandstand show also. You can score $17 standing room only spots, but you can only get these day of. Otherwise, you can be paying anywhere from $55 to $113. I recommend getting the covered seats – again, rain.
9. Have a plan for getting home. And don’t let that plan be a taxi. You and fifty thousand other people are hoping for a cab, and let me tell you there’s nothing more mind numbing than waiting for a cab and having people steal them out from under you. Take transit where possible, walk if you’re within 30 minutes of the grounds or have someone come and pick you up.
10. Pancakes! Less of a tip and more of an experience. Make sure you find a pancake breakfast. Most are free, but sometimes hard to find. This free stampede pancake breakfast finder came in mighty handy last year.
So, that’s it my friends (partners?). Have a great time at the greatest outdoor show on earth. For any locals reading this, anything you’d add to my survival tips?