We’re a little sad that the Greatest Show on Earth has come to an end, but we’re sure our livers and wallets are rejoicing! Each Stampede is better than the last, and this year was no exception. Here is a round-up of our Stampede 2015 highlights:
1) Cowboys, Cowboys, Cowboys
This year we went to Cowboy’s twice because once is never enough. They play great music of all genres, the stage is easily accessible for dancing and if you’re lucky, a cute bouncer will be your two step partner. We were in line by 3:30 p.m. the first Saturday and only waited about 20 minutes to get in, and on the last Friday we decided to fast pass after the Blake Shelton concert, which was necessary to avoid hours+ long wait times.
Monday nights aren’t usually a party night but when Dallas Smith is in town, exceptions are made. This was our first time visiting Wildhorse and it showed us a great time. They have little bars set up all over the venue, which meant quick and friendly drink service. Dallas Smith put on an awesome show and played a mix of his country hits, along with a few covers. We especially loved one of his guitarists, Darren Savard, who looked like he was having the best time ever at the show, his enthusiasm was contagious!
We had purchased Blake Shelton tickets way back in September (before Jenna even decided to move to Calgary), so it’s safe to say we’d been looking forward to this concert for almost a year, and he did not disappoint. Relying on his country charm, strong vocals, and band, Blake’s set was simple and all about the music. The audience went crazy for his hits like “Austin“, “Boys Round Here“, and “Hillbilly Bone“, and he performed a cover of “Home” by Michael Buble (set to the romantic phone lights in the Saddledome), while commenting that he “feels like Taylor Swift right now”.
We were having such a good time at Nashville North that we (embarrassingly) spent around 10hrs there (they say time flies when you’re having fun). Nashville North has mastered the system of no lines which is ideal because who likes waiting? There weren’t even lineups to get into the women’s washroom (faceplant). They’ve also done a little remodeling from last year, and the venue now includes a spacious outdoor patio section, and a VIP area inside.
We didn’t know Jason Blaine was performing there that night, so that was a sweet surprise. We wiggled our way to the front where JB grabbed Maria’s phone and took a stage selfie.
5) Chuckwagon Races + Midway Eats
We finally made it out to Stampede grounds on Day 10. Better late than never, right? While waiting for the chuckwagon races to start, we explored the various sinful food options at the midway. Our top ‘must-try’ items were donut based: Jalapeno Poutine Mini Donut Bowl, the Glazed Donut Grilled Cheese, and the Mini Donut Popsicle. These were a little disappointing so sharing is the way to go.
On to the Chucks! Energy levels were dropping on Day 10 (not shocking), so we entertained ourselves by each betting on a wagon. It’s thrilling to watch the speed and skill of these chuckwagons, especially when it’s a close race (there were 9 heats with 4 teams). After they wrapped up, we stayed for the Transalta Grandstand Show (included with your chuckwagon ticket, which is a great value). All of us were blown away by it grandeur! There were singers, dancers, gymnasts, acrobats, pyrotechnics, and of course, fireworks at the end. Great way to finish off 10 days of Stampede fun!
*Honourable mention: Ranchman’s!
We ventured out to Ranchman’s twice – once on the first Sunday of Stampede weekend, and again on Thursday July 9th. The Sunday session was pretty quiet, but bonus – no cover. The dance floor picked up around 10:30 p.m. but it wasn’t the typical rowdy cowboy experience. Our Thursday visit was much better, in fact it was arguably Jenna’s favourite Stampede bar experience this year (so much so that we didn’t have time to take any pictures!). Packed around 10 p.m., thankfully there was no line up, but this time there was a $20 cover charge. There were tons of cowboys and line dancers showing us how it’s done, and we had a great time doing the Cadillac Ranch on the dance floor.