When I moved to Calgary 7 years ago I didn’t have any “Western wear” in my closet. Now I have 3 cowboy hats, my wife has 2, and my sons have a dozen between them while my closet is bursting with nearly a week’s worth of plaid western shirts.
To say I have embraced Stampede style would be an understatement, but how can you not?!
The energy in Calgary the last week of June of and the first week of July is palpable. The windows are getting painted, the hay bales are being hauled out, the stands for the parade are getting built and while some complain that the Calgary Stampede is the same old same old, and the window painting is terribly cliched, there is still something about this season that makes it magical.
I’ll conceded that the Calgary Stampede grounds themselves are stereotypical. Spending a day on site is expensive and it hasn’t changed all that much for decades. The rodeo is exciting and some of the shows have evolved over the year but, for the most part, walking the grounds is the same as it ever was. But that’s the same at Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition, a fair I grew up with and never once in my life got excited about – but I anticipate the Calgary Stampede each year with a real and growing excitement.
Why? Because when everyone buys in, we win. And the Calgary Stampede is more than just a fair on a parking lot next to a grandstand downtown, it’s an entire spirit that sweeps through the city.
The difference between the Calgary Stampede and the PNE is the complete immersion of the city into the festival. The Calgary Stampede is more than just a fair and rodeo. It is dressing up, it is decorations, it is parties, it is community spirit. It is a street festival, night party, and city-wide event for 10 days.
Never in my life did I think I would be spending my wedding anniversary in the parking lot of a country bar watching a rodeo, but there my wife and I found ourselves; hatted, plaided, and denimed – and loving it.
Think about how you feel about your family around Christmas. Now expand those decorations, gifts, feasts, and get-togethers across an entire city. The Calgary Stampede is a time to celebrate our city-wide family. We get dressed up, we decorate, we break bread (pancakes), we celebrate what it means to be a Calgarian. It really is Christmas in July.
I am well and truly excited for the week ahead. I likely won’t go to the Stampede grounds this year, but I will go to pancake breakfasts, parades, parties, bbqs, concerts, and more. My dance card is filling up with events just like it does during Christmas party season – and I can’t wait.
Calgary comes alive during early July and it’s because Stampede spirit permeates every corner of the city. Putting on a cowboy costume for a week is something that brings us all together.
Sign me up.
This year, I’ve added to my Stampede wardrobe (because you can never have too many shirts) with some great find from Mark’s.
Here’s a look at how you can up your Stampede style in time for The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth:
Shirt: has to be checked or denim. Real cowboys tuck them in and always wear long sleeves, never rolled up.
Jeans: I go for dark, try and find a contrasting colour to match the shirt you’ve got on.
Footwear: cowboy boots are something that take some getting used to. I’ve never gone full boot, but instead choose “boot like” footwear that still looks great under jeans.
This post is sponsored by Mark’s