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Calgary Stampede

5 Places to Light up Your Cowboy Spirit in Calgary

By Anna Rybnickova

Courtesy of Cowboys Nightclub

Calgary Stampede is over but you still crave that western-country vibe? Don’t despair — Calgary isn’t called the Cow-Town for nothing! Whether it’s those bootstompin’ rhythms or the cuisine of the Old West you are after, this city has something for everybody.


Yeah, take your horse to the old town road and park it by the Cowboys Dance Hall & Casino in the heart of the city. The place has a vibrant western energy bursting out of every nook and cranny. The nightclub offers line dancing, live concerts, DJs and theme nights and has a conjoining casino where you can play all the games worthy of a true cowboy.

421 – 12 Ave SE, cowboysnightclub.com; cowboyscasino.ca


Experience for yourself Calgary’s “greatest honky tonk.” This western-style cookhouse has it all — an overflowing bar, a stage and a mechanical bull on which you can test your skills and stamina, not to mention a menu like from the Old Wild West, including burgers, ribs and wings. Put that 10-gallon hat back on and have an ace-high time.

9615 Macleod Trail SE, ranchmans.com


Whether you’re heading to the dance floor in one of the clubs or just want to glam your outfit a little bit, you can pull off a good pair of cowboy boots with basically anything in this town! Alberta Boot Company has been making them since 1978 and since then has outfitted royalty, movie stars, entertainers, celebrities, athletes, public figures, religious leaders and everyone else who is caught in the fascinating air surrounding the Wild West.

50 – 50 Ave SE, albertaboot.com


Have you always wanted to learn those country moves but never got the chance? Well, now’s your time to shine. Professional instructors will teach you the secrets of modern western swing, line dancing and even aerial maneuvers. Get those boots on and get down on the dance floor!

544 42 Avenue SE, outlawdance.com


Since 1919, Smithbilt Hats has been producing the cowboy hats for a wide range of clientele. Their signature “Calgary white hat,” which symbolizes hospitality, is ever-popular in Alberta and has even been worn by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. This accessory is the sign of a true cowboy so why not get it from a traditional business and support a local craft?

1015 – 11 St SE, smithbilthats.com

Courtesy of the Smithbilt Hats

Grandson shakes up Calgary Stampede Coca-Cola Stage


Photo courtesy Warner Music.

Where rock and roll and activism meet, that’s where you’ll find Grandson. The McGill University drop-out who relocated to Los Angeles to pursue music is angry, optimistic and has something to say.

His debut EP, A Modern Tragedy Vol. 1, released last month, is a commentary on corruption, social disenfranchisement and apathy, as much as it is a help line to those grappling with where they stand in the current political climate.

Where Calgary had the chance to catch up with Grandson before his performance on July 10 at the Calgary Stampede Coca-Cola Stage, where he’ll be opening for Our Lady Peace.  

Have you played in Calgary before or is this your first time here? I played in Calgary one time before opening for my dear friends The Glorious Sons; it was one of the first shows that I ever played in Canada where people knew Blood // Water and where there was some familiarity. It was an incredibly exciting time, and with all the support we’ve been getting I can’t wait to come back.

You were born in New Jersey but moved to Toronto when you were quite young. Do you feel Canadian? Or Canadian and American? I absolutely feel a relationship to Canada. To the natural resources there, to the disposition of Canadians; whenever I use the word “out” or “about” in the US I get called out for it. But with everything going on in America I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud to be able to speak on things not just as an outsider but as someone who has the right that every American has to vote, to express their opinions and to be heard.

How did you get started on your music, was it something that you knew you always wanted to pursue? My family are a bunch of musicians, but my sister really excelled academically and I didn’t really know where I fit in. Music just kind of became an outlet for me. At first I would write songs about girls I had a crush on in high school. In [university] I was just going through the motions. Then someone heard a video that had only a couple hundred views and they wanted to bring me down to Los Angeles to try writing for other artists. So within the span of five or six weeks I dropped out of school and found a sublet for my apartment, and all of a sudden I was living on a couch in Los Angeles writing songs.

That seems crazy, to make a decision like that in a span of six weeks. I was 20 at the time and I just really felt like okay, let’s say this doesn’t work, in two years or three years I’ll just go back to school. Grandson for me represented the first time that I was willing to fail at something. I had no money and I was just like, ‘alright, well this is me, this is what I have to say, and if no one likes it well you know f–k ‘em, I like it.’ I think that when you enter a headspace like that in any endeavour in your life, be it a career or a relationship, when you’re really willing to put yourself out there and risk rejection or embarrassment or whatever those uncomfortable feelings are, that’s when I think the universe starts cutting you a break.

What’s the scariest thing about being an artist and making music? The scariest part can be the sense of vertigo as you depart from the safety of normalcy. As I am more public with my opinions, as I am more nomadic in my tour schedule, my life looks so much different than I ever could have imagined it. So of all the scary parts, it’s just the fear of maybe losing yourself in it. 

Your debut EP, A Modern Tragedy Vol. 1 just came out so walk us through the creation of that. What does this body of work mean to you? I actually wrote “6 o’clock” around the time that Trump was elected. I was just sitting on all of this music for a while and I knew that I wanted to make a sort of cohesive state of the union – the union not necessarily being America but just a sort of ‘this is where we’re at’. I feel like there is an incredible gravity to this time. It’s such a critical juncture for democracy and youth culture and for you know, how the f–k are we gonna all learn how to cooperate? And if we’re not then how can we confront these issues without getting too burnt out? Can we escalate and work through some of the systemic failure that is plaguing this society without necessarily burning it all down?

Which is a tough line to walk. It requires a lot of confrontation and humility. You have to be able to listen to everybody’s side. I have a hard time relating to people who feel differently from me and I think that that’s human, but it’s also the sort of problem that plays into the hands of the people who are making decisions that wanna keep us at odds with one another. Songs like “6 o’clock” and “stick up” and even “blood // water” touch on some of those failures and some of those conditions, and then songs like “overdose” and “despicable” talk about the the apathy and the escapism that I think this environment can encourage. For me that was what this process represented, it was a lens into the world that I’m writing in.

You mentioned that these topics can be exhausting to dwell on – what gives you hope? One of the things about touring that I love most is that I get to be confronted by people who are really passionate and who are working on the front lines of issues. I’ve had the opportunity to speak to activists and community organizers and teachers that have been through school shootings. I’ve talked to recovering addicts, I’ve talked to people that are recovering from self-harm, and those sorts of things give me hope and optimism. I think that the young people in this society both in Canada and the United States are more engaged than our parents were. I think that they are more connected to one another and that there are more systems in place for them to organize and mobilize. When I think big in the kind of change I want to make and when I see people respond well to that, that makes me pretty f–king stoked. I think that there is a change coming.

A Guide to Calgary Stampede Events and Attractions


Chuckwagon races at the GMC Rangeland Derby. Photo: courtesy Calgary Stampede

Chuckwagon races at the GMC Rangeland Derby. Photo: courtesy Calgary Stampede

Rodeo is the beating, bucking heart of the Calgary Stampede. More than just a sport, it is homage to the grit and romance of the Wild West. Rodeo champions from around the world test their mettle against the finest livestock, competing in daily roping events, steer wrestling and barrel racing for glory and their share of over $2 million in prize money. (more…)

Wild West Wardrobe: Top 4 Western Outfitters For The Calgary Stampede



Custom-made cowboy hats made the old fashioned way  at Smithbilt Hats. Photo: Jason Dziver

Custom-made cowboy hats made the old fashioned way at Smithbilt Hats. Photo: Jason Dziver

During Stampede season, Calgary street fashion includes everything from business-casual with a bolo tie to head-to-toe cowboy garb. To complete your look, visit some of Calgary’s best-stocked western outfitters. (more…)

Hot Entertainment: Weekend Round-Up

Tonight until 11pm at the Bandstand Stage along Stephen Avenue Walk (between 1 St SE and 1 St SW), CJSW 90.9 FM will be presenting the New West Fest. Local bands will perform while CJSW DJs spin tunes and broadcast live on location.

Also this evening, at 8 pm at the Plaza Theatre in Kensington, the Calgary Folk Music Festival presents a screening of the film Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus with the film’s narrator, gonzo folk musician Jim White, in attendance for a Q&A and acoustic performance. (more…)

Hot Date: The Beach Boys at the Calgary Stampede

The Beach Boys playing the Scotiabank Saddledome for their 50th Anniversary Tour

“Do You Wanna Dance” and experience some “Good Vibrations”? “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” if you could get a ticket for tonight’s Beach Boys concert at the Scotiabank Saddledome? Well you can! Ticketmaster still has some available, but you “Can’t Wait Too Long.”

Sorry about those puns. The legendary 1960s pop music icons have reunited for their 50th anniversary tour (more…)

Hot Dining: Craving a Stampede Treat

Photo: Laura Christensen

If you’re not on the grounds but are looking for a sweet Stampede treat, Crave Cupcakes has two fun feature creations to try this week.

Taking a twist on Calgary’s unique affinity for pancake breakfasts, the Stampede Breakfast is a buttermilk cupcake with maple bacon icing.

The Mini Doughnut is a cupcake version of the midway delicacy and is dusted with the same addictive cinnamon-and-sugar mixture.

Six regular sized cupcakes or a dozen minis run for $17.95.

Crave Cupcakes has four Calgary locations in Kensington, Aspen Landing, Willow Park Village and Crowfoot Terrace.


A Calgary Tradition: Kick Off the Stampede Parade with Pancakes and Coffee

Photo: Tye Carson

Tomorrow, the Calgary Stampede centennial kicks off with the annual downtown Stampede parade. One of the oldest standing Stampede traditions, the parade draws tens of thousands of spectators into the downtown core for a procession of more than 170 floats and entries including horse riders, dance performances and marching bands. (more…)

Stampede Mania: the Calgary Stampede Preview Round-Up

Photo: Sunny Goel


Cowtown’s annual western extravaganza, the so-called Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, which kicks off tomorrow, is in its 100th year and hotter than ever.

Here’s a roundup of our favourite Calgary Stampede features leading up to the event:

  • Fashion Magazine tells us how to be cowboy au courant, from what to wear to which events not to miss, including a peek at a Stampede gown made entirely of pancake breakfast supplies. (Yup, we’re talking plates and napkins!)
  • From the Food Network, a slideshow of top Stampede treats: fried Kool-Aid, jalapeño corn dogs, and Jack Daniels whiskey fudge—yeehaw!
  • Just what is the deal with those white cowboy hats? The Globe and Mail interviews Bryce Nimmo, president of Smithbilt Hats, to find out.
  • Doing the Stampede with little cowpokes in tow? The Calgary Herald has some great tips on where to take the kids.
  • We love Canadian Geographic‘s colourful, interactive Stampede map.
  • And, of course, it wouldn’t be an event without an app. The Calgary Stampede’s official iPhone and iPad app has maps, event descriptions and a schedule-building tool.

Book Now for Calgary Stampede’s Centennial Year


Photo: Naila Jinnah

If you’re planning to attend one of Canada’s largest annual events, the Calgary Stampede, this year, you’d better book your hotel room now, says the CBC. (more…)

Hot Art: Cowboy Art

Newzones Gallery is hosting a traditional Stampede pancake breakfast on July 9 to launch their annual group show, G’ddy Up! The collection of paintings and photographs features images of the contemporary “wild west” as well as iconic cowboy culture by gallery artists Joe Andoe, Cathy Daley, Aron Hill, Joshua Jensen-Nagle, David Robinson and Kevin Sonmor. Jul 9 – Aug 27. —Allison Onyett

150 Portraits Highlanders 2011 by Kevin Sonmor

Canadian Tourism Commission Releases Signature Experiences Collection

Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada. (By Benson Kua)

Ever been asked what are must-see spots by friends visiting from abroad and drawn a blank, or thought about taking a trip to another province but not known what’s on offer besides a city stop?  The Canadian Tourism Commission has released their Signature Experiences Collection. The federally funded program has released an initial list of 48 (undoable in 48 hours, so don’t get any ideas of a Guinness-worthy task) attractions to see, spanning east to west. Aimed at high-end tourists from Europe and Australia, they’re not exactly the waterfalls and whale watching your parents took you on when you were kids.