Stampedian for Beginners

Ah, the Calgary Stampede! Inhale and take a deep breath of fried foods, various animal manure, booze breath and bodily fluids (human).

Before I step too far into sacred territory, I humbly acknowledge that I am not a “born and raised” Calgarian. Anyone else who is not a “born and raised” Calgarian knows that “born and raised ” Calgarians LOVE to tell people that were “born and raised” in Calgary. So much so that I can usually predict the use of this overused phrase and beat them to the chase. They are a proud people. Respect.

Me: So, did you grow up in Calgary?
Calgarian: Yup! Bor….
Me: Born and raised! Right?
Calgarian: Hmph!

It’s entertaining.
For me.

Today I was inspired to write some kind of “Helen’s Guide to the Calgary Stampede” when I realized I was speaking Stampedian to someone who, really, had no idea what it was all about. I thought it would be helpful to clarify some terminology or ways in which we use said terminology (mostly just variations on the word Stampede). It all started when my future guest asked, “What’s Stampede”? For the record, this question came after a lengthy conversation about the rodeo, so I was rather shocked that he had no idea he would actually be attending the rodeo at Stampede. Clearly I was not doing my job.

“What’s Stampede?”
The Calgary Stampede, or Stampede for short, is The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Stampede is a season. It is a time of year, like Christmas. In this sense, the word Stampede refers to the overall ten-day Western extravaganza! People decorate, businesses throw annual parties and everyone (everyone!) dresses in seasonal clothing. It is ten days of city wide events and celebrations. Free pancake breakfasts!

“Going to Stampede”
Here, the use of the word Stampede specifically refers to the location of the Stampede grounds. Home base. While Stampede is everywhere throughout the city, the grounds are the headquarters. This where you can eat all the crazy new food (Unicorn White Hot Chocolate or Deep Fried Jell-O anyone?), play games or ride rides at the midway, watch the rodeo, the chuckwagon races and the grand stand show (if you have tickets), check out the free shows at the Coca-Cola stage…the grounds are the main Stampede hub. But, even if you do not go to Stampede (aka. the grounds), that doesn’t mean you aren’t going Stampeding.

“Going stampeding”
I think it’s safe to say that going stampeding refers almost exclusively to how adults stampede (v.). It’s not the same as going to Stampede. Going stampeding might involve a visit to the grounds, but it most definitely involves some dancing, some drinking, some late nights and a good ol’ time. Stampede is everywhere, so you tend to go off the grounds in search of a bar or two… or three, when going stampeding. And you definitely have to get duded up.

“Get duded up”
Yet another term I used with my future tourist friend, not realizing he wouldn’t understand what the heck I was saying. To get duded up is basically to have a western makeover; a cowboy or cowgirl makeover. With the right accessories, you can take almost any “regular” outfit and dude it up. It’s the Stampedian term for “getting ready”. It’s like bedazzling for Calgarians. But where oh where would you ever get such items of clothing?

Lammle’s. Most likely Lammle’s.

Yup. We have specific Western wear clothing stores here. And these are not lame ass kitschy shops…this is the real deal. But as long as you have some jeans and a plaid shirt (in a pinch, any button down shirt will work) you should blend in just fine. If you’re feeling self-conscious, get yourself a hat.

Confusingly, this usually refers to a place; the famous Stampede bar. Not an actual cowboy. That’s all I will say about Cowboys, you should form your own opinion.

Does that just about cover the basics of Stampedian? Any born and raised Calgarians have anything to add? What do you think? Can you dude it up and go stampeding?


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