Poster from First Calgary Stampede in 1912
Many people associate Calgary, affectionately nicknamed “Cowtown”, with its annual summer Stampede in the same way that a place like New Orleans is tied to Mardi Gras. The character of those places seems inextricably linked to these major civic festivals. Prior to the area’s post-WWII oil boom, Calgary was predominantly an agricultural area and held a traditional yearly agricultural fair called the Calgary Industrial Exhibition.
The Stampede was conceived in 1912 by an American rodeo promoter, Guy Weadick, as a way to add a cowboy-themed element to the fairly staid farm-focused Exhibition. After some fits and starts the two events combined in 1923, with the Stampede under Weadick’s longtime guidance eventually overshadowing the Exhibition. Ever since, the cowboy theme has stuck with Calgary even though agriculture, farming and ranching are now only a very small part of its economy. This year’s Stampede will take place July 7-16 and, as can be seen on the official Stampede site, will be quite a spectacle with something to offer just about everyone.
Image Credits: Calgary Stampede Archive, University of Calgary