From the deep-fried-everything, to the Grandstand Show all the way over to people getting crazy in the Cowboys tent...there was something for everyone this year.
I didn't do everything, but from what I was able to get out to - here are my Stampede 2014 highlights:
Raine Maida covers Lana Del Rey at the OXFORD StompThe Oxford Stomp is one of two massive outdoor concerts that happens during the Stampede week. These shows usually attract a large corporate audience (due to high ticket prices and sponsorships)...so when picking the line-up, they tend to go with bands who were popular 10-20 years ago...you know, when the people in attendance were still up on their 'new music'.
The Stomp had Lifehouse, Our Lady Peace and Rob Thomas - yes, we traveled back to the 90s. It was fuuuun.
Lead singer of Our Lady Peace, Raine Maida, sang a cover of Lana Del Rey's Summertime Sadness and it was amazing. Unfortunately, it was lost on 75% of the audience.
"Lana Del Who? Summer what? Isn't this song supposed to have DJ beats to it? Like a remix...on the radio?"
I hate everyone. Don't worry Raine, I loved it.
Shaina Twain and B4-4Shania Twain played TWO concerts at the Stampede, bringing her whole Vegas production to the Saddledome. It was great and BLINGY and whatever, but the best part was her backup singers.
Ryan and Dan Kowarsky, also known as the classical pop duo RyanDan, but better known as the twins from b4-4.
I was so hoping Shania would be a doll and let them sing at LEAST the chorus from If You Get Down on Me (I'll get down on you), but no. SHANIA IS A THIEF OF JOY.
Fundraising BreakfastsPancake Breakfasts are a Stampede staple. They are everywhere. Every company, organization and church group has one during Stampede. Probably less widely known are the Drunken Stampede Breakfasts (DSB) that are usually hosted as fundraisers.
For years and years the DSBs (Bullshooters and the Buckin Breakfast) were held at The Westin. They were completely out of control, even for me. I guess the lovely people at The Westin decided that it was only a matter of time before someone died at the event and decided to no longer rent to the DSB crowd.
This year the two DSBs moved to the TELUS Convention Center. Unfortunate. Even more unfortunate, back in the Westin days there were no laws on booze. You want an entire 26 of vodka in a jug with a pinch of orange juice? DONE.
This year, we rolled up to the event and they gave us....drink tickets. Excuse you? I got the "It's a ALGC regulation" speech from everyone I spoke to. I guess it turns out the ridiculous amounts of drink tickets they give you do last and now I have spares all over my living room floor. ALGC regulations aside - those were two very good mornings.
Peking AcrobatsThe ENMAX Corral Show this year was the Peking Acrobats from China. The Chinese be crazy. I thought I was going to watch this little guy fall off a stack of chairs and die. It was very stressful, and awesome.
Cowboys TentI have yet to go into the Cowboys tent at Stampede and not run into every person I have ever met in my entire life. It's always a crap shoot. Will I see a long lost friend today? Or will I need to be held back from stabbing my mortal enemy? It's a fun gamble.
Live Infomercial HecklingThe Stampede Market is, in part, a bunch of live infomercials. Do you need a broom that can sweep up hair better than you normal broom? They have that! Do you want a giant machine that will allow you to make soup? I didn't know how to make soup until now! Do you want to know how to make pasta for under $10? OMG you guys...go buy a bag of pasta from Wal-Mart, it's like a dollar.
I think most of the stuff sold there is unnecessary clutter. I have a friend who likes walking around and casting doubt on everyone watching the demonstrations by saying things like "Where the hell would I store something like that?" "But seriously, would anyone actually ever remember to use that?" "I heard those break after the first use." And then watch people not buy stuff. I feel like he may be helping people out, so good karma for him. I on the other hand, bought a ceramic knife and it works like magic.
Bryan Adams at the ROUNDUPThe first of the two Fort Calgary outdoor shows had Bryan Adams headlining. AMAZING. It was also amazing how tiny Bryan Adams was and that he was dressed head to toe in long sleeved BLACK clothing on the hottest day of the entire year. How is he still alive? I did very much enjoy singing along to the 90s hit Everything I Do (I do it for you) while crying into my 80th can of Twisted Tea (a drink which I have now sworn off forever).
Midway treats: Deep fried EVERYTHINGThe second butt one gains at the Stampede is totally worth it if you gain it by eating everything deep fried from the midway. Cheese, pickles, hot dogs, Oreos, onions...the list is pretty much endless. This year they had a two foot long hot dog...which we got and didn't finish because 1. It is two feet long. and 2. It was gross. The big hit of the fried delights was the Red Velvet Mini-Donuts. I was not a fan. Too sweet. Like...I want to hit you in the face with a fire hose full of sugar, sweet. Not for me. My personal fave this year was the deep fried onion. I know it is not new, but it was my first time - and I will go back for more next year!
Trooper at the GrandstandGrandstand show is always so tremendously...tacky. The Young Canadians are too much for my brain to handle and there is just so much going on they should have a warning about watching it on drugs and possibly dying. This year they did have Trooper play a couple of songs from a bus on stage. That was the best. The old Vancouver rock band brought the house down every night singing Raise a Little Hell. Loved it.
Beef JerkyMarketers love the Calgary Stampede. Why? Because you can get your products out to hundreds of thousands of people in a small area. I love Stampede because you always leave walking home through a throng of people handing out free stuff. Energy drinks, coconut water, candy, booze...you name it, they're hocking it. (Yes, I am aware that giving out free booze on the street seems illegal, but it happened. I promise.)
My favorite again, for the third year in a row: Beef Jerky. Probably because they give it out in beer tents and I am my most accepting of snacks when I am seven drinks in.
And that's it. Until next year Calgary Stampede...it's been real.