It is the most rambunctious time of year in my fair city, the Calgary Stampede. Each year over a million people flock into the Calgary Core. Tourists from around the world fly in, specifically for the ten day event. Hundreds of millions in economic impact. It is the ‘Greatest outdoor show on Earth’, the worlds largest rodeo, the fair, the parade, the exhibition, an art show, top level music concerts, the fireworks, the breakfasts. It is a bit of a big deal around here.
As a kid in Calgary, the free breakfasts and the fair was enough for me. I never understood the economical importance or the fame my local fair actually had. Then came the summer of 1992, and one of the biggest events in my early reading career. Spider-Man in Calgary! One of the greatest names in comics, in cartoons, in my little boy world. Spidey, the real Spidey, and by real of course I mean the comic book ‘real’, came to my city, to go to my Stampede. Then shortly after, I believe that same year, another famous comic came to take part in the local festivities, Archie. Those two big names making it to my city helped me realize the Stampede was world famous, and as a kid I loved the fact that my local fair was better than your local fair.
Decades later, living here over two thirds of my life, the Stampede novelty has long worn off on me. I have to shake my head, watching people, who have never been on a horse, spend hundreds of dollars on cowboy apparel that they wear for ten days, look uncomfortable, and ridiculous, then stuff in their closets for the rest of the year. Money has become way too valuable in my adulting life to lose at the fair, and spend four dollars on water. The rodeo, well I have never been a fan, some believe it is animal cruelty, I don’t believe that either; it’s just a sport that I do not like. Despite my outgrowth of the major summer event, I have two new reasons to participate, kid 1 and kid 2.
I did my parental duty Friday, I woke up early, packed snacks, and drove them down to the parade. When you are the kid it is easy to ignore the big crowds, sweltering heat, and rude people. Jenn had to work, so the stress of watching both children was all on me. Then I received that moment of why parents do these things that stress us out. When Zyler and Alex looked upon the parade with their big bright eyes, the excitement and joy of seeing the animals, bands, and clowns. Worth it, do I want to do it next year? Maybe, maybe not, but I am glad I made the effort this year.
This week is also a big event in our little home, the birthday of our little Alex. Yesterday, I took the opportunity and we had a birthday daddy-daughter date. Her first trip to the Stampede, and she loved it. All of that novelty that had worn off on me suddenly had a fresh perspective. Enjoying this event with my little girl was amazing, and we did it all. We pet all the animals, tried the fried foods, rode every ride she could. And I mean every ride, that little girl is fearless, she wanted to go on the biggest, fastest and highest rides that scare off full grown men off. She got to try the rip-off games and was so happy with her cheap stuffed animals. We got to meet the creepy looking characters, of full grown men dressed as Dora or a Teddy Bear. The experience of sharing this with my soon 4 year old daughter brought with it a whole new love of the Stampede. Although, now, I am good for a few years.
I give the Stampede 2016 a 4/5. And would recommend it to the booknerds who are not 100% introverted.
Thanks booknerds, yaaaahooo!