Horses and Cowboys on 9th Avenue? Must be the Calgary Stampede Parade!

For those of us who are native to Calgary waking up just as the sun is breaking through on the horizon is not unusual. We’re used to working with folks in the East who are two hours ahead of us so we do it (but maybe don’t like it all that much).

Of course, there is one morning when thousands of us (Calgarians by birth, people who have moved here and made Calgary their home and even folks who are just visiting) happily wipe the sleep from our eyes and head into downtown with assorted blankets, folding chairs, and wagons for the kids to help kick off the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Calgary Stampede!


For the second year in a row, I’ve been fortunate to be included in the Stampede Parade social media area and it’s been terrific. They really know how to take care of their volunteers. Our group never had to worry about getting overheated or dehydrated with our hosts bringing around refreshments and icy cold water as the morning went on. A big shout out to the folks who set this all up and hosted us in the 34°C heat (that’s about 94°F for my American readers).


Can you imagine riding the entire 4.8 km route in these beautiful but heavy outfits and headdresses sported by members of the Stony Nakoda Nation?! It takes about two hours for the parade to pass by any one spot on the route so you can imagine how long these fellows will be in the saddle today.

I love how members from our First Nations are always involved with the Stampede and parade. They are an important part of our heritage in this area. They populated these prairies long before the cowboys and our first Calgary Stampede in 1912.


What would our parade be without these gorgeous beasts who will be entertaining visitors to Draft Horse Town for the next 10 days. It’s amazing to see them work right up close. If you haven’t been there yet you should add this spot to your list.


Not sure if any of you were at the parade or caught it on TV but this fellow was looking a little suspicious…I think he may have been looking for a train to rob (there were several of them running on the tracks right behind us). Thank goodness there were also members of the RCMP on hand to entertain us and keep us all safe.

Don’t you just love a marching band? I think we have some of the best in the world right here in Calgary (but I may be a bit partial since I’ve had daughters and friends in all of the Stampede bands over the years).

This group not only marches but they dance and say howdy too!

Did you know…

The Calgary Stampede Showband has been invited to perform in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena California in January 2019? This will be their fourth trip. I saw them in the 2012 Parade, they were fantastic! (It was fun to see them march and play at Disneyland that year as well.)

There is just so much to see and enjoy at the Stampede Parade. And when you know what time some of these folks got up in the morning just to participate, your 4:30 am alarm seems like sleeping in.

The folks from Remington Carriage Museum in Cardston (a few hours south of here) had to get ready and packed up the night before since they had to be on the road by 2:00 am to arrive at Fort Calgary (the starting point of the parade) on time. All of that tack is set for each horse (and is heavy to boot).

I’m pretty sure these lovely members of the Stampede Royalty were up pretty early getting things ready as well.

Then there are the carriages and buggies to polish (not to mention all of those hooves that need to be shined).


And the Shriners in their little cars, always a hit with the kids (at least they can buff them up with some Turtle Wax and not worry about them rolling in the grass before the parade).


No Calgary Stampede Parade would be complete without a visit from Bonhomme Carnaval – he’s the mascot for Carnaval de Quebec (one of our sister cities). I sure hope he has air conditioning on that float!

Did you know…

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show? That’s the same number of years that champion chuckwagon driver (and guest judge for this year’s parade) Kelly Sutherland raced professionally before retiring this year. that’s quite a legacy!

Spending the morning of the first Friday after Canada Day (it’s easy to remember the date that way) watching the Stampede Parade live and in person is a family tradition for us and we love to meet folks from out of town who travel to see our little rodeo. If you don’t have the Stampede on your bucket list you should add it, you won’t be disappointed.

Now I’ll close off with a photo of one of the most important entries in the entire parade…a street sweeper (no parade with this many horses can do without several!)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.