Tomorrow is the sneak-a-peek to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth so this week, we thought we'd look at the history of the Stampede and how it came to be. Back in 2012 the Stampede celebrated its centennial anniversary so given that it's a historical and important event for our town, we thought we'd dive into uncovering some interesting facts about it. Take a read and impress your friends when you're waiting in line on the midway tomorrow!
· The first event took place in 1912, however it only lasted 6 days and took place in September, not July. It didn't become an annual event until 1923, which is also the first year that chuck-wagons were introduced in the parade. One-hundred-thousand people attended the first Stampede and it didn't become a 10-day event until 1968. Additionally, in this inaugural event of 1912, the first parade saw over 2000 Aboriginal peoples lead the festivities in full traditional attire.
· The Big Four building on the grounds is named after the first Big Four businessmen who contributed $100,000 each to the first event in 1912. They are A.E. Cross, A.J. MacLean, Pat Burns and George Lane and there are various namesakes found in Calgary after these four men. Without their financial backing for the first Stampede, it would have never happened. A.E. Cross was a brewer in his time, and one of the forefathers of craft brewing in Alberta. He surely would be proud to see that this year on the grounds there are 20 craft breweries showcasing what Alberta’s barley can do!
· The daily grandstand show became an event in 1964 where the first performers were the Calgary Kidettes who eventually evolved to be called the Young Canadians who are still the headlining performers at the Grand Stand Show today.
· The need to showcase Calgary to ranchers and farmers to encourage them to move west in the late 1800's resulted in fairs and exhibitions taking place over the years. From this display of the 'west' and all these annual exhibitions which were well attended, the Stampede grew and evolved into existence.
· And lastly, the Stampede breakfast. This tradition of city-wide pancake breakfasts has become so synonymous with the Stampede that there is even an app created to let you know where breakfasts are happening all over Calgary. The first Stampede breakfast took place in 1923, when a chuck-wagon driver named Jack Morton invited loved ones for free pancakes at a camp site very close to the CPR station close to Calgary's downtown. It was such a hit, it became an annual event.
Feast your hearts out on mini-donuts and all things deep-friend as you enjoy the midway tomorrow! There's so many reasons to celebrate this truly historical event for Calgary!