The 10 Strangest Facts You Didn’t Know About the Calgary Stampede


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For 10 days in July, the city of Calgary is taken over by music, cowboys, greasy midway food, flashing lights, fireworks, parades and much more as it celebrates the Calgary Stampede. The roots of this rodeo and exhibition date back to 1886 and it is billed as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”. Attracting more than one million visitors every year, it features stage shows, a midway, parades, chuckwagon racing, rodeo events, agricultural competitions, First Nations cultural exhibitions and much more.

Perhaps you are already familiar with the Stampede. However, even if you think you know it pretty well, here are some strange and interesting facts that you might not have known about this festival.

1. Nearly 100 Years Ago, the Stampede Was Interrupted by a Plane Crash

During the 1919 Stampede, the revellers of Calgary had their midway fun suddenly interrupted by the expected emergency landing of a Curtis Jenny biplane on top of the midway carousel. The plane was built for the First World War flying ace Fred McCall by his son, Fred.

McCall Sr. crash landed the plane on top of the merry go round during the Stampede because his engine had failed when he was taking off. Luckily, he and his two passengers were uninjured

2. The Stampede Casino is Bigger Than you Think

You might associate cowboy and rodeos with the Stampede before you think of gambling, but the Stampede Casino is quite a popular attraction as well. Did you know that the casino needs six tonnes of coins in order to open? Stampede2

3. The Stampede is a Winner for Calgary Tourism

For every $1 that is spent within the Stampede grounds, another $2.65 is spent by visitors in the city of Calgary, on hotel rooms, taxis and other tourist expenses.

Another interesting fact to know is that the Calgary Stampede is the highest grossing festival (in terms of economic impact) in all of Canada – which means that it grosses more than the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Winterlude in Ottawa and the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. The festival generates over $350 in economic benefit for Albertans. Yahoo!

4. You Can Feast on Some Pretty Unusual Culinary Creations

The Calgary Stampede Midway is home to several unique food combinations that you will either find incredibly delicious or absolutely revolting. Bacon wrapped corn on the cob and chocolate dipped cookie dough both sound pretty good, but would you have the guts to try crocodile burgers or scorpion pizza?

5. Stampede is Prime Baby-Making Time

Perhaps there is something about long summer nights, live music, cowboy hats, tight jeans and belt buckles that Calgarians find irresistibly sexy?

Howdy M'am...
Howdy M’am…

Whatever it is, the Stampede is the season for loving. The birth rate in Calgary spikes around the month of April, which is exactly nine months after the sexy Stampede.

6. You Can Use an App to Find Free Pancakes

One of the best aspects of the Calgary Stampede is the abundance of free pancake breakfasts that are offered all over the city during the festival. It is estimated that over 200,000 pancakes are served at these community breakfasts.


If you want to make the most of the Stampede and eat as many free pancakes as possible, download the Flapjack Finder app. It will list all of your opportunities for finding a fluffy stack smothered in maple syrup during the festival.

7. U of C Students Could Take a Course on the Stampede

In the year 2012, the University of Calgary offered an actual official credit course on the Calgary Stampede. The course covered the history and the cultural significance of the festival and some of the lectures were held on the Stampede grounds. I wonder if the students got extra credits for sampling the mini-donuts.

8. The Stampede Grounds Become the Third Largest City in Alberta every July

The 193 acre area that is the Stampede Grounds holds an average of 120,000 people per day, which means that during the 10 days of the festival it is more populated than Red Deer (pop. 91,000) or Lethbridge (pop. 87,000). This makes it the third largest city in the province after Calgary or Edmonton.


The grounds are considered a fully self-sustained city and they have their own electricity, recycling, waste services and food. The Calgary police service also deploys a special team to work the entire stampede.

9. The Board of Directors Don’t Get Paid

That’s right. The Calgary Stampede is a not-for-profit organisation and the entire board of directors is comprised of volunteers. The festival has over 2,000 year-round volunteers, as well as over 1,200 year-round employee.

10. The Stampede Founder is Credited With Inventing Chuckwagon Racing

The Calgary Stampede was founded by Guy Weadick, who was an American trick roper who participated in the Dominion Exhibition and came to Calgary in 1912 with the idea of establishing an event that would accurately represent the “Wild West”.

Chuck Wagon

He organised all of the typical rodeo events, but he is also credited with inventing the sport of Chuckwagon Racing in 1923. He was perhaps inspired by a similar event at the Gleichen Stampede in 1922 as well as impromptu races when he was growing up. He added this new and exciting sport to the entertainment line-up at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.

Did you know any of these strange Calgary Stampede facts? If you found them interesting, share them with your fellow stampede goers to get them excited for the festival.

About the Author: Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word. She and her English boyfriend Lee run, packed full with guides, stories and inspiration for those who dream of travel. They have been location independent and travelling the world digital-nomad style since 2011, with no address, no car and no fixed schedule.

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