Hannah’s Stampede blog
Come hell or high water
The recent flooding had Calgarians questioning whether or not their beloved Stampede would happen this year.
To counteract that concern, the theme “Come Hell or High Water” has been plastered all over social media websites to gain support from across Canada and the local sense of Calgarian pride seems to be more contagious than ever before.
I have never been more proud to be from this amazing city so I had to question why the grounds seemingly were empty the first night of Stampede? Well rain, and lots of it. Calgary was hit with the worst natural disaster in its history and I feel I can speak for a lot of Calgarians when I say I’m sick of the rain.
When I went down to the Stampede grounds late afternoon on the first day I was soaking wet and my spirits dampened, until I saw my friends skipping and jumping into puddles acting like children with the biggest smiles on their faces.
I then decided I wasn’t going to let a downpour ruin my night of country fun and deep fried food. My friends and I walked through the empty admission gates in search of something warm to clog our arteries. A few deep fried Oreos and some coffee later, we decided to check out one of the beer gardens which was also vacant due to the weather.
The few groups of people braving the rain were huddled under umbrellas cursing their wet clothes. My friends and I decided to just have fun and embrace the rain since we were already soaking wet and grabbed a few beers and found the ideal spot to watch Dean Brody play on the Coca Cola Stage.
Waves of people started to show up to cheer on the famous country singer and the grounds finally started to get busy. The rain had finally stopped for a time.
After the show, I grabbed my friends and we left the beer garden to explore what the 2013 Stampede had to offer. I’ve been to the Stampede every year since I moved to Calgary and I wanted to switch things up from just eating fried food, going on rides and checking out the agriculture centre.
When we were finally away from the Coke stage, the crowds of people dwindled and there was no lines at any of the stands. My eye caught the Henna display and I dragged my friends in to check it out. A two minute Henna piece later and some small talk and I found out about some of the new shows and features the Stampede has this year.
We walked along the aisles of games and food all the while taking in the carnie culture. And then it started to rain — again. Keeping up the mentality of not caring if we got wet, we continued to enjoy walking around and talking to workers while people scrambled into the BMO centre to stay dry. I personally enjoyed being able to actually take in the bright lights and read the menus on the food trucks for once.
You miss a lot when you’re running about trying to get to shows, hiding from the weather or get mixed in with the massive crowds that usually line the Stampede grounds. I never noticed how much I missed during the 15 years I’ve been going to the Stampede.
Another bonus of the now empty grounds is being able to watch the fireworks in peace. Normally I’m worried about drunken, angry, tired mobs of people either trying to get home or trying to get somewhere and pushing around to get by. Not this night.
For the first time I stayed to watch the midnight fireworks with my friends on the perfect spot on the grounds — up the stairs on the Saddledome on the left there is the perfect spot to view the back of the Grandstand show where the colourful explosions can be seen perfectly.
Normally my experience with the Stampede is full of drunk guys grabbing me to dance, waiting in long lineups and getting yelled at for being in someone’s way, but this time was different. For a moment I could forget about the flooding, and feel a sense of peace which resulted in the best Stampede experience I’ve had in a long time. I got to be with my friends and meet new people and overall have a great time because everyone else was too worried about getting soaked by the rain.
In my honest opinion, I rather the rain for my Stampede experience than deal with the hot, dry Calgarian summer. It gives me the chance to slow down and take in the greatest outdoor show on earth, not just rush around trying to accomplish the stereotypical Stampede day of waiting in line spiting the massive hoards of people.