Calling all rodeo lovers! The Calgary Stampede, an annual event in Calgary, Alberta Canada, boasts one of the world’s largest and most famous rodeos. Every year in July, over one million visitors flock to enjoy ten days of concerts, exhibitions, a parade, and yes, a rodeo.
The big event has roots all the way back in 1884, when Calgary officially became a town of a mere 500 people. They founded the Calgary and District Agricultural Society and two year later, held their first fair. In 1888, the Society bought 94 acres of land near Elbow River and promptly built a race track, cattle sheds, and a building for exhibitions.
Calgary really took off when in 1912, an American named Guy Weadick picked the town for his rodeo and festival, which he named the Stampede. He intended it to be a one-time event but after World War I, he came back to hold the Victory Stampede to honor the soldiers’ return home. In 1923, the rodeo became an annual fixture when it joined forces with the Calgary Industrial Exhibition and became the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.
Despite its popularity, the Calgary Stampede has a dark side. The animal-centered sports frequently go bad, resulting in the deaths of animals. Politicians and animal welfare groups alike are urging the city to at least ban chuckwagon racing, which has resulted in the deaths of fifty horses between 1986 and 2013. Calgary Stampede officials argue that they work closely with animal groups like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and while each animal death is a tragedy, the race does allow horses that would otherwise be put to sleep to have something to do. It remains to be seen whether chuckwagon racing or other rodeo events will eventually be phased out of the Calgary Stampede.
Photos: Chavalit Likitratcharoen, Steve Estvanik, Clive Watkins / Shutterstock