Surviving the 2015 Calgary Stampede

Here in Calgary it is Stampede season, which means we are about to be inundated by approximately 3.7 billion people who come visit the city for ten days in an effort to relive what they presume to be an accurate rendition of the Old Timey West. Two things happen when the Calgary Stampede goes on: 1) Citizens native to Calgary evacuate the city to the nearby mountains (this is also part of our zombie preparation plan); 2) Those not native to the city arrive. And they all wear cowboy hats, boots, and jeans. And we will resent them and all that they bring to us.

Now, I’ve only lived in Calgary for just over three years. But I understand it. I understand the intense fury, the violent anger that erupts deep within one’s soul every time they get stuck in a traffic jam on Deerfoot because some wildly inappropriately dressed tourists have crashed their car and are attempting to extract their mangled cowboy boots from the wreckage of their vehicle while simultaneously screaming Woo! Stampede, bitches!

I hate it as much as the next person, which is why I think I is time we all sit down and come up with a list of must-do’s and musn’t-even-attempts for both the locals and the tourists who have decided to eat as many scorpion pizzas as possible before riding the Zipper on the midway.

Taking Part in the 2015 Calgary Stampede: Tourists

  1. Okay, you’re here. We will all do our very best to accept that.
  2. Just because you can start drinking early and later than normal doesn’t mean that you should. Practice some self-restraint, if only for your health. We’ve had a heatwave recently, and no one, least of all any of us locals, wants to read about you keeling over in a pool of your own filth due to alcohol poisoning.
  3. If you have to drink excessively, please drink water too.
  4. Please don’t harass Calgary Police Services for doing their job. I get it, your buddy was just goofing around when he was tossing empty beer cans over the bridge, but it still isn’t right nor is it legal. If the police are arresting him, it’s because he was acting like a mighty morphin’ power douche. He could use a few hours in the drunk tank.
  5. Be nice to those volunteering at the Stampede. Yes, it is hot. Yes, it is crowded, and yes, maybe you totally can’t even right now, but neither can we, so just take a deep breath and relax.
  6. Yes, there is crappy beer on for cheap. Drink up that Kokanee and that Bud Light Lime if you want! But while you’re here, I recommend trying out some of our local flavors! Big Rock Brewery is become renowned across the world, and Village Brewing is a fantastic craft brewery! Trust me, you’ll enjoy the overall experience a lot more if you spend a couple extra bucks on a quality brew.
  7. Please don’t make cowboy or Ol West jokes. We’re heard them all, and none of them are funny.
  8. If you have to dress up, don’t go overboard. A hat just makes sense; it protects you from the sun. You don’t need the boots and the cowboy hat and the plaid shirt tied in such a way to emphasize your boobs (ladies, this goes for you too), and you don’t need to speak like you are from Texas. We sure as shit don’t.
  9. If we look unimpressed with you, it is only because we are. You are the twentieth person to comment about something ‘Western’ related today, and we are slowly dying inside. It’s best just to move on and forget about us.
  10. Please don’t comment on how we are dressed up in western clothes in our place of work. We don’t need to be reminded of this humiliating experience. True story. My husband works at a bank, and even he has to dress up.
  11. Did I mention not over doing it on the drinking? I feel like this is a really important point. I can‘t emphasize it enough. Don’t get alcohol poisoning.
  12. If you are here from PETA: Okay, we understand. A lot of people have issues with the rodeo aspects. Please don’t take it out on everyone going to the Stampede. Some of us are just there for the soft serve in the phallic cone.
  13. Be prepared to wait on hot, sweaty C-Trains with the rest of us. It is annoying as hell, and we all know it. There’s no need to complain loudly about it. And while we’re at it, follow basic transit rules. Make room, don’t hog seats with bags, make sure the elderly, pregnant, and disabled all have places to sit.
  14. Look out for each other. People usually go to Stampede in groups, but it is easy to get lost, either because of crowds or because you are completely smashed. Strangers looking after strangers is both heartwarming and an important part of ensuring everyone has a fun time. If you see someone who looks like they are about to keel over, help them get medical attention.
  15. Don’t be a dumb-dumb. Common sense hasn’t ceased to exist just because you are wearing spurs and a rhinestone belt buckle.
  16. Yes, it has been busy at our place of work recently, and yes, we can’t wait until Stampede is over. No, we’re not sure if we’re going to take part in the activities.
  17. Your short-shorts are inappropriate cowboy wear. You can either take this seriously or you can just fanny about, but don’t pretend you’ve found some happy in-between place. You haven’t. And those shorts would kill if you actually rode a horse. I’m talking full on chapped thighs.
  18. Finally, and I really can’t stress this enough. Don’t drink so damn much, unless it is water.

Surviving the 2015 Calgary Stampede: Locals

  1. Can you get out of the city? Then do it. Jasper, Banff, Golden, Radium. Anywhere but here. Go, go, go. You are wasting time reading this. Just go.
  2. You can’t leave? You have to work? Okay, don’t panic. We’ll get you through this. First off, assume that wherever you work is going to make you play along with this nonsense. It’s best to just embrace the gingham skirts, the cowboy hats, and the boots now, before it’s too late.
  3. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. There are plenty of free pancake breakfasts for you to attend. You might as well get all you can out of the next ten days of terror.
  4. Yes, there will be country-western music playing everywhere. I find the best solution to this is to hum the Sailor Moon Theme Song. It’s easily accessible to the other poor sods who are trapped in the same scenario as you.
  5. Suicide pact with your coworkers.
  6. Are you absolutely certain you can’t leave the city? Can you fake an illness or an accident? Your employer would understand.
  7. Personally, I find wildly mocking people below my breath really takes the strain off of the whole experience.
  8. Extra visits to your psychiatrist. Remember: they will be filling up fast!
  9. Consider earplugs and/or horse blinders, just in case.
  10. If you do find yourself trapped in a crowd, proceed to windmill your arms and making a whooping noise. If they don’t get out of your way because you’ve hit them, they will at least avoid you do to possible insanity.

Of course, that might not be enough. That’s why I recommend The Treasure Hunt of Stereotypes. This is a game my husband and I play whenever we have to go to the mall. We came up with a list of stereotypical mall goers and began to tick off them as we saw them. This included: child on leash, teenage girl who can’t even, and depressed husband or father waiting for wife or daughter by change rooms. I have prepared the following preliminary list for your enjoyment, either at the Stampede, at your local mall, or just downtown around 17th Ave or Stephen Ave mall:

  1. Woman with cut off jean shorts that would offend anyone over the age of 70;
  2. Small child clearly forced into wearing cowboy gear, looking unimpressed. Bonus points if crying;
  3. A group of women wearing plaid shirts that have been tied above their belly-button, Daisy Duke-style;
  4. A drunk and sunburned frat boy. Double the points if he is carrying a can of beer;
  5. Someone wearing a pink, bejeweled cowboy hat;
  6. Someone wearing gaudy, bejeweled cowboy boots;
  7. Anyone using the terms ‘y’all’ or really, dropping their ‘g’s’;
  8. Anyone who announces, probably drunkenly, that they are absolutely getting a horse after their experience at the Stampede, because of course they are;
  9. Spontaneous line dancing. Extra points if it is on Stephen Ave;
  10. Someone arrested for chewing tobacco and spitting it everywhere without a care for those around them;
  11. White cowboy hats (you take a shot for each one of these you see. Staff members of the Stampede and/or Calgary do not count.);
  12. Any bar that changes its title to ‘Saloon’;
  13. Inappropriate racial stereotypes;
  14. PETA protesters;
  15. Piles of vomit at the midway;
  16. Country-Western music playing inside a mall or store that does not regularly play it;
  17. Random buskers with guitars or banjos;
  18. An idiot wearing spurs attached to their cowboy boots which you know they bought because they once saw Fieval Goes West and figured it was important to complete their outfit;
  19. Bigoted comments being spouted by drunks, probably at the ‘saloons’;
  20. A Stampede Princess (you lose a point if she isn’t wearing a bejeweled hat or belt buckle);
  21. A small infant, dressed in cowboy gear;
  22. Bolo ties. Bonus points added if the person wearing it is under the age of 45;

There you have it folks. This is, of course, only a basic survival guide. I would still recommend leaving the city or, worst case scenario, going full hermit until this is over and done with. I, for one, will be hiding under my bed until it is safe to come out again.

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