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CALGARY STAMPEDE - Cowboys' festival that changes the city

Did you know that Calgary is the city of the Cowboys in Canada?

This detail had eluded me as well, but less than a week after my arrival (in March) already the first people had told me about this tradition that characterizes the city but especially about the event that takes place every year in July: the CALGARY STAMPEDE.

I began to understand the true importance of this event already a few weeks before it began, every citizen I stopped to talk to in one way or another ended up mentioning it, and I only had to walk the streets of Downtown during the afternoon before the official start to understand why. Within a day tourists from all over Canada, the United States, and some even overseas populated the city, and every bar restaurant and pub was filled with people dressed in their theme: boots shirt and Cowboy hat.

The Calgary Stampede lasts 10 days and proclaims itself "the biggest outdoor event on earth."

It is not limited only to the park where it takes place but in every corner of the city there is an air of celebration.

Many pub and bars turn their parking lot or patio into a concert hall for the occasion and so a series of small festivals come to life all over Calgary, for 10 days the city does not sleep.

During the morning of the first day, the main streets of Downtown give rise to the "Stampede Parede" that gives all of the city's cultural and social groups a chance to show their community affiliation and celebrating the official start of the festival.

It is not only the festival and nightlife that is affected because another very important tradition is the "Stampede Breakfast." Many businesses for the occasion set up for one or more days a free breakfast available to tourists and citizens.

On the first Sunday of the event inside the "Stampede Park" 17,182 pancakes were offered by the Canadian restaurant chain "Tim Horton" breaking the Guinness World Record for the most pancakes served in less than 8 hours which an official judge present at the event made it official.

Inside the Stampede Park in addition to street food, games and a variety of rides, there are multiple stages where world-class artists perform from afternoon until evening and shows of all kinds take shape throughout the day, from Monster motocross freestyle to First state PowPow to the official Calgary Stampede Band show and more.

The Most Important Show obviously concerns the main tradition that is celebrated during this event and takes place inside GMC Stadium: the Rodeo!

The show consists of a real competition involving several disciplines inherent to the Cowboy world.

There are six main professional categories - Bull Riding, Ladies Barrel Racing, Steer Wrestilng, Tie down Roping, Saddle bronc riding and bareback riding - and 4 categories for the little ones - Junior steer riding, novice bareback, novice saddle bronc and wild pony racing.

I attended this Show within a week of the start of the festival.

I did not know what to expect and the fear of seeing how the animals might be treated at first stopped me. On the contrary, I was really surprised. I sensed a great respect for the creatures being brought to this event and understood how the cowboys and cowgirls competing are true athletes who dedicate their lives to these sports.

I had a chance to talk to one of them and he explained to me that some of the top athletes discover this world during this very event and at a very young age, some jumping into the saddle as young as 14 years old.

It will take a while to get Country songs out of my head!



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