Canadian Geographic
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Calgary Stampede, The

Western experience

The Calgary Stampede has become internationally renowned for authentic Western spirit. During the 10-day festival, crowds gather for the famous rodeo and chuckwagon races.

Though the sport was still in its infancy, the rodeo was an important part of the first Stampede in 1912. In order to get the West’s best riders and ropers, founder Guy Weadick offered them $20,000 in prize money and drew crowds by promising them an authentic cowboy championship contest.

In the years following, rodeo events evolved from everyday cowboy skills and activities created for their own entertainment. For example, steer wrestling, no longer a contested event, and bull riding were based more on displaying courage and to earn bragging rights than having practical use on the range. However, events like Saddle Bronc Riding and Tie-Down Roping, both still part of the modern day rodeo, were based on actual work performed by cowboys on ranches.

In 1923, Weadick is credited for having invented chuckwagon races, referred to as the Rangeland Derby. They were an instant success and remain a crowd-pleaser today.

Now, these events are still one of the main attractions at the Stampede. More than 20,000 fans flock each day to see the individual competitions including Bull Riding, Barrel Racing, Steer Wrestling, Tie-Down Roping, Saddle Bronc, Bareback Riding and four youth events: Junior Steer Riding, Novice Bareback, Novice Saddle Bronc and Wild Pony Racing. Each of the six major events offers a $100,000 top prize. With $1 million awarded on Championship Sunday alone, the Stampede offers one of the largest cash prizes of any rodeo.

Agriculture events and shows have been a significant part of the Stampede throughout its history, attracting about 40 percent of all visitors each year. The exhibition holds 50 different agricultural programs sponsored by more than 1,000 exhibitors. Many competitions take place in the exhibition, including the Texas-based National Cutting Horse Association’s World Series of Cutting event and the World Championship Blacksmiths’ Competition. Farm and ranching presentations occur throughout the exhibition and provide the public with valuable learning opportunities about Calgary's rich ranching and agricultural history.


This piece allows the user to choose two live action videos and a slideshow. The first video shows the cutting horse competition, a traditional western event, while the second details the progressive animal care program employed by the Calgary Stampede. The slideshow uses historical and contemporary photos to depict the major rodeo competitions held annually at the 10-day event.


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Quiz :

How much was awarded in prizes in the first chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede?