The Calgary Stampede may be cancelled but there are still ways to celebrate the annual event during the pandemic. 

This year may not be filled with drunk people in cowboy hats stumbling around Nashville North or kids throwing up from going on too many rides, but the organizers of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth have stepped up to keep the Stampede spirit alive by offering drive-thrus, new merchandise, Spotify playlists and fireworks, with other local businesses working to fill the gaps with more food, party packages and unique drinks. 

July 3 marked the first of two large fireworks displays planned at Stampede Park, with the second coming on July 12. 

“It’s hard to imagine a July in Calgary without a Stampede pancake breakfast, mini donuts and other midway treats”

— Dana Peers

“We’ve made the fireworks higher and bigger than they would be regularly as part of the Grandstand show, so ideally if people can see the city skyline, they should be able to see this year’s fireworks,” says Kristina Barnes, communications and media relations manager at the Calgary Stampede. 

As far as food is concerned, the festivities began with a Stampede food truck rally on July 3 and will continue until the 12 at Stampede Park and various other locations around town. This is just one of the ways people will be able to get their corn dog and cotton candy fix this year, courtesy of YYC Food Trucks. 

“It’s hard to imagine a July in Calgary without a Stampede pancake breakfast, mini donuts and other midway treats,” said Dana Peers, Calgary Stampede president in a press release. 

As a result, Stampede Park is also hosting a mini donut drive-thru that began on July 6 and 7 will continue on the 9, 10 and 11, with tickets needing to be purchased online ahead of time. 

Along with all that, Wednesday, July 8 was set to be BMO Kids’ Day with a drive-thru pancake breakfast at Stampede Park.

Various other local businesses have also created their own ways to keep Stampede spirit alive and well during these uncertain times. 

“We really do encourage people to celebrate at home, in their own neighbourhoods and support locally,” says Barnes. 

StampedeCoverThe Calgary Stampede will be holding food truck rallies from July 3 to 12 at Stampede Park and various other locations around the city. Photo courtesy of Francisca Alvarez/

One local business offering up “eats, treats and sweets” to curb the Midway munchies, along with the drive-thrus, is the newly opened Carnival Cafe. Their menu focuses on creative carnival-style food options, available year-round to curb cravings for the other 51 weeks of the year as well. 

“[We] take food, turn it inside out, upside down, making big things small and small things big, and just always make it kind of fun and cool and colourful for the kids, with a bunch of deliciousness packed in,” says Alexander Dunn, co-owner.

From foot long corn dogs – “we call it the Thud, that’s cause that’s the sound it makes when it hits the table” – to deep fried Oreos, Carnival Cafe allows people to enjoy a tasty treat at home by providing delivery through all three major third party delivery services. They also have a large patio for guests to enjoy if they prefer to visit in person. 

For those who choose to have a socially distant backyard Stampede party, the restaurant also offers catering. 

“If anybody was doing special events and they wanted us to come down with the cotton candy machine, or bring a bunch of mini donuts, or corn dogs for an event they’re having at home, we can gladly do that,” says Dunn. 

People planning a get-together were also able to take it to another level with Cowboys Nightclub delivering Stampede spirit in the form of their Cowboys Music Festival Stampede House Party Packages, which have now sold out with Calgarians eager to celebrate. 

“For the first time ever, you can have Cowboys Music Festival in your own backyard with the CMF Stampede House Party Package,” says the nightclub via Instagram post. 

Included in the $200 package is a Cowboys Music Festival pop-up tent, a belt buckle, boot mugs and much more. 

For those looking to celebrate with a unique beverage, Eau Claire Distillery just released their new Stampede Spirit Barrel-Aged Gin, which is available for purchase at their taproom and Calgary Farmers’ Market booth.

Finally, to make up for all of the missed concerts, Country 105 will be presenting the Nashville North House Party for the 10 nights of the Calgary Stampede, which started on July 3 at 6 p.m. 

“We’ve gone from on-stage to on-air with the biggest names in country,” says their website. 

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