It's not just in the United States that you can find cowboys! In the south of the Canadian province of Alberta, border state of Montana, the Ranchmen dominate the landscape. And the “cowboymania” is at its peak at the beginning of July for the Calgary Stampede, a big party with western sauce which turns 100 this year. The Cowboys Olympics are in Calgary!
Alberta, the Canadian Wild West
Do you know the nickname of Calgary, the capital of Alberta? “Cowtown”, or the city of cows. We often forget that 100 years ago, this ultra modern city was a village in the Canadian Far West. Today Calgary has a population of almost one million. Its brand-new buildings house the oil companies that exploit the region's black gold.
The spirit of the pioneers is palpable. In the south of the state, the " Cowboy Trail », A 700 km road at the foot of the Rockies, offers a beautiful panorama of these agricultural plains punctuated by immense ranches. It's a real movie set! In fact, the movie Brokeback Mountain was filmed there.
Another curiosity: the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (literally, a bison jump that crashes head first), 18 km northwest of Fort Macleod, where the Blackfoot Indians used to stalk the bison by driving it to the edge of a precipice. A tradition of almost 5 years. The place is now classified by Unesco. Failing to chase it away, taste it as a burger!
Stampede: over a million cowboys & girls!
Take out your skinny jeans, cowboy boots, Stetson and fringed shirts to attend the Stampede, the demonstration which brings together at the beginning of July (of the 6 15 2012 July), all the cowboys of Canada and the United States! On average, 1,2 million visitors each year, and this has been going on for 100 years.
It was Guy Weadick, an American lasso specialist who imagined this great Far West version of the fair. The program is loaded. Rodeo, cattle fair, races, reconstruction of Indian villages, agricultural competitions… The key: millions of Canadian dollars for the winners! In the evening, the show continues with good-natured shows like country concerts and line dancing!
On the sidelines, other events such as lotteries, exhibitions, concerts ... Also watch the program of Calgary saloon-style bars, especially at Ranchman's, it is not uncommon for big country stars to make an appearance there.
A well-celebrated centenary
10 days of celebration with a western atmosphere. Here are the events not to be missed:
-La grand parade, July 6 at 9 a.m., kick off the festivities. Marching bands, chariots, horses by the hundreds, not to mention cowboys and Native Americans parade on a 4,5 km course through Calgary!
- The "Cowboy up" July 7, 8 and 9 at 15 p.m. in the Saddledome (shaped like a saddle on horseback!). Participants must travel a route strewn with obstacles and pass 14 events in 8 minutes, such as archery while in the saddle, stand up or even guide a blindfolded horse.
- Every day at 13:15 p.m. at the Grandstand. The rodeo competition : Cowboys must stand on the bull's back with one arm in the air.
- Every day from 19 p.m .: the wagon race (chuckwagons). It begins with an eight-shaped layout in the middle of the pitch and ends with an impressive sprint. There are nine competitions per evening. At the end of the day, a price that exceeds a million dollars.
Every morning, pancakes and sausages are distributed free of charge at various points in the city. And, at noon, it is barbecue which is served for free. Follow the movement to know the way.
To celebrate the centenary, the great Stampede competitors are invited for exceptional shows: not to miss on July 14 the chariot race and on July 15 the rodeo competition of course, two emblematic disciplines of these cowboys Olympic Games.
To prepare for your stay, consult our Canada sheet.
Go to Calgary : Daily flights from Paris CDG with Air Canada or Air Transat (direct once a week), via Montreal or Toronto.
Sleep in Calgary : find your hotel in Calgary