I don’t know how much people in the UK have heard about the recent flooding in Alberta, but it’s been a tragedy for the city of Calgary with freak flooding claiming the lives of four and tens of thousands of residents evacuated from their homes as a state of emergency was declared across the city. Shocking pictures of the famous Saddledome stadium showed the water had risen ten rows deep and the Stampede ground was flooded. Yet within these scenes of devastation, Calgarians have shown themselves to be bold and determined, because unbelievably the Calgary Stampede, the ‘Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth’ has gone ahead and Calgary has declared itself open for business.
Only a few of the planned events have been cancelled – the Saddledome isn’t in any shape to hold concerts right now – but all the traditional fun of the Stampede is still going ahead – and Calgarians need you to visit to show your support. Watch cowboys and livestock being put through their paces in the Stampede Rodeo at the Grandstand, from penning to barrel racing – this show has it all.
Fancy something more sedate? Then check out the ‘dancing’ shire horse shows, where beautiful Clydesdale, Percheron and Shire horses move to the music of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.The food on the Midway is legendary – if it’s deep-fried and on a stick – it’ll be there… and yes, that means deep-fried butter, double-bacon deep-fried corndogs and even chocolate-covered bacon.
If you can’t make it to the event which runs till the 14th July, then show your love and buy a ‘Hell or High Water‘ T-shirt. That’s what I did. Impressively, the t-shirts have raised more than $500,000 so far, which will all go directly to the Canadian Red Cross Alberta Floods Fund.
One last reason to visit the Stampede – as well as those gorgeous cowboys, you may get chance to see Canada’s new heartthrob, Mayor Naheed Nenshi who has won effusive praise from every corner of Canada for the compassionate and take-charge way that he’s handled the crisis. This, from the Globe and Mail explains why: “He worked for 43 straight hours: tweeting, imploring, directing, assisting, cheering on and cheering up residents who saw homes ruined and possessions literally float away. He was cheerleader, director, benevolent scolder. ‘Help your neighbours, he exhorted, be it with a shovel or a ride. Hug your emergency providers.’ His new “home” became the back seat of helicopters or in front of news cameras. He provided updates several times a day – one in the middle of the night. He used Twitter to get the word out. Well-wishers finally started a social media movement to get him to go home and take a nap.”
For full Calgary Stampede listings see the official website (http://calgarystampede.com/) and for the latest on travel across Alberta and the latest news on the recovery efforts across the province, visit the travel update page http://update.travelalberta.com/