Next to the Calgary Stampede, the Millarville Races is my favorite summer event in and around Calgary. It’s laid back, it’s small town, it’s community, it’s fun, it’s western hospitality at it’s finest.The Millarville Races have been going at this small little track in this small little town for more than a century. In fact, the The Millarville Racing & Agricultural Society has its origins in groups older than the province of Alberta itself.
Every year, on Canada Day, 300 volunteers make The Millarville Races happen. It’s a mix of every type of entertainment with the track races being the star attraction. And it’s a down home event as local people bring their finest horses and race them against the neighbours for bragging rights. There are stock horse races, pack horse races, side saddle races, and, yes, a few thoroughbred races are thrown in too.
At the Millarville Races, it’s best to arrive early. The line up of cars will stretch far beyond the track gates, so even though the events start at noon, show up at 10. Or earlier. Some even turn it into a full fledged camping experience.
This is tailgating at its finest. Think about a NASCAR event in the south, shrink it down, substitute horses for cars, and you’ll get an idea what the atmosphere is like at The Millarville Races on Canada Day.
The infield is open to the patrons, so pick a good time when no horses are barreling down the track, and scoot across to set up your gear.
We grabbed a spot with our cooler and drinks and chairs right along the rail. It was a great spot, but we soon found we were outclassed by the rigs people had packed along. From little green egg barbecues to hibachis to full cheese trays with bubbly in ice buckets, people are up for the occasion at The Millarville Races.
Even though we were not up to the catering of our neighbours, we still enjoyed our watermelon. Just be careful not to lean over that rail when a horse comes by, this is an up close and personal event.
The Millarville Races is a wonderful family event. The boys loved betting on their favorites, and whether you choose to step up to the parimutuel windows and drop a toonie or two, that’s up to you.
There’s a smaller version of the Millarville Farmers’ Market, there are kids’ foot races, sack races, and three-legged races in the infield in between horse races.
There’s a petting zoo, face painting, mechanical bull, cow milking, inflatable obstacle course, and more.
Canada Day at the Millarville Races is an absolutely perfect way to celebrate.