Friday, May 22, 2015


    Cheese Rolling has become an annual event in Stilton and every May Day hundreds of villagers and visitors make their way to the main street to watch the teams battling for the honour of being called the "Stilton Cheese Rolling Champions".

Stilton History and The Cheese

The Bell Inn, where the rolling starts!

Ancient Stilton

    No one knows who lived here first - the earliest finds date from the time of the Roman occupation and are probably associated with the road that runs from London to the army fortress at Lincoln, which the Saxons later called Ermine Street.
    For centuries this road seems to have been little used, the important route was the east-west road, Fen Street and Church Street, which is why our oldest building, the Church of St Mary Magdalene, is found away from the main road that now exists.

    Stilton gets three mentions in the Doomesday Book of 1086 as three landowners, the King, the Bishop of Lincoln and Eustace held land here. The Great North Road had become a busy thoroughfare by the fifteenth century and Stilton was a well-known staging post; at one time there were 14 inns or ale houses for a permanent population of around 500 to 600 people. While most earned their living from farming, an analysis of the 1841 census, taken just before the long distance coach trade all but disappeared to be superseded by the railway, showed that occupations directly connected to the coaches were important too.

Village Pubs &  The Cheese

    All four of the present inns have very ancient origins, even though their buildings have been changed and modernised several times. We owe our famous cheese to the coach trade. Any Stiltonian can relate tales of visitors asking "where is the cheese made?...", only to be told "‘in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire".
    The most widely accepted explanation is that the cheese came down to be sold at one of the coach stops in Stilton, perhaps The Bell or The Angel. As early as 1722 Daniel Defoe (the author of "Robinson Crusoe") ate some here and mentioned that the village was already famous for its cheese. The recipe was passed down through the Beaumont family of Quenby in Leicestershire. By 1830 a former housekeeper at Quenby, Elizabeth Orton, made cheese in her farmhouse. Her daughter married Cooper Thornhill who kept The Bell Inn and he sold the cheese. He was famous (or infamous) as a larger-than-life character who long held the record for riding to London and back.

Modern Stilton

    Today, all Stilton cheese is factory made, but still only in the three counties with milk produced locally. It takes a gallon of milk to make one pound of cheese and a lot of skilled hard work is still needed. Each cheese matures for 3 months after which the blue veins appear naturally as oxygen is allowed to enter through holes pierced by stainless steel needles. A whole cheese weighs 15lb.

One of the officials watching a race

    Stilton’s dependence on the main road has been its undoing twice; in the middle of the nineteenth century when the railway line passed to the east through Holme and Yaxley, and in 1959 when the present A1 Stilton by-pass was opened. The village became a ghost village; The Bell actually closed and fell into disrepair and other businesses also disappeared. In 1962 Tom McDonald of The Talbot and Malcolm Moyer of The Bell, aided and abetted by telephone engineer Fred Linstead who provided a telegraph pole, cheered up their drinkers by organising the first ever Cheese Rolling along a course outside the present Post Office on Easter Monday.

A Little History On The Cheese Roll

How did it start?

    It would be nice to be able to say that the event is "as old as the village" or that it's origins have been lost in "the mists of time" but really no one knows how far back the tradition of rolling the cheeses goes. Midway through the Twentieth Century, when the village had turned into rather a quiet place having been by-passed by the A1 and the inns and businesses had seen a big drop in their trade, a landlord of one of the pubs decided to revive an ancient tradition. Or so he told everyone! He could be seen rolling a Stilton Cheese along the road outside his pub. People came to stand and watch and eventually joined in. And so the sport began - again.

The Rules

    It was originally run on Easter Monday and there was not a lot of uniformity to it to begin with. It seems a piece of wood in the shape of a Stilton Cheese was produced, a starting line drawn up somewhere between the The Stilton Cheese Inn and The Talbot and the finish line was outside The Bell Inn. Brave teams of Stilton men would then vie to roll the cheese to it's finish and, after the ensuing scramble, and many tussles and spills, the team that ended up steering the cheese to the finishing line would win! Nowadays, the starting point is always outside The Bell Inn and The Angel and the finish is a line drawn at the cross roads between the bottom of Fen Street and Church Street. The contestants are teams of 4, either all men or all women and each team member has to roll the cheese at least once during it's flight. It's a knockout competition with quarter's, semi's and a grand final.

Fancy Dress

    Some of the teams wear fancy dress for which there is a good prize and it all adds to the colourful scene. We would like to say that the sport has become more genteel over the years but we still get the tumbles and spills as in former days. The friendly rivalry grows during the competition as each team passes through to the next round so we end up with some very competitive finals!

    The prizes are always the same, a Whole Stilton Cheese and beer for the men and a Whole Stilton Cheese and wine for the ladies. But, of course, the main prizes are to be the winners of the coveted Bell Cup for men or the WI Cup for the ladies and to go down in history as 'Stilton Cheese Rolling Champions'. For more information about next years Cheese Rolling or to obtain an entry form contact the organisers


    There are many locations throughout the world that are considered to be one of the scariest places on Earth. However, there is one road that is approximately 200 miles in length that has many individuals frightened to travel on. This is Highway 666. While the U.S. officially renamed this haunted highway "U.S. Route 491" in 2003, those that have traveled upon it, live near it, and have heard or directly experienced its horrors, continue to refer to it as the ominous 666. There are many different types of unexplained phenomenon that have occurred and continues to occur on this desolate road. Throughout this guide on the scariest places in the U.S., you will learn why it instills fear in so many individuals.

Historical Notes

    Throughout the entire nation of the United States, Highway 666 is considered to be one of the top haunted highways. This particular highway is so large that it is found in 4 individual states-Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Those that know of the terrors of this haunted place also identify it appropriately as the one and only "Devil's Highway". While it is true that there are many urban legends, rumors, and tall tales that are associated with this particular stretch of road, there are also many facts that relate to this road-such as statistics on accidents and even deaths. Those that have experienced complications while traveling on this road claim that the spirits that lurk along it are directly responsible for the issues.

The Evil Spirits

    While there are many stories of ghosts, hauntings, and spirits in general associated with this haunted highway, the stretch of road is best known for the evil spirits that are rumored to lurk on it. The first of the evil spirits that are said to be present on the evil road are what many refer to as the "Hounds of Hell". These are dog like creatures that have a supernatural basis. Many claim that they are able to run as quickly as vehicles are able to drive; they purposely cause traffic accidents, and attack people traveling along the road. In addition to this, there is a story that is often referred to as "Satan's Sedan". It is believed that an evil entity that is spiritual in nature drives a dark, ominous sedan that actually charges vehicles and individuals traveling this haunted highway.
There are many different stories associated with Highway 666. Most individuals associate the evil spirits with this road, but there are other stories surrounding this spectacular and vast haunted highway. Many claim the spirit of a girl wanders the highway while others claim that there is a phantom semi-truck that attacks travelers aggressively. Then, there are stories of skinwalkers as told by Native Americans. Regardless, Highway 666 is considered to be one of the scariest places in the U.S. Do you dare drive this long, ominous road alone? How about at night when you get into some, car trouble? heh! heh! heh! heh! heh!

Thursday, May 21, 2015


   Cheung Chau Bun Festival or Cheung Chau Da Jiu Festival is a traditional Chinese festival on the island of Cheung Chau in Hong Kong. Being held annually, and with therefore the most public exposure, it is by far the most famous of such Da Jiu festivals, with Jiu being a Taoist sacrificial ceremony. Such events are held by mostly rural communities in Hong Kong, either annually or at a set interval of years ranging all the way up to once every 60 years ( the same year in the Chinese astrological calendar). Other places that may share the folk custom include Taiwan, Sichuan, Fujian and Guangdong.
   Cheung Chau's Bun Festival, which draws tens of thousands of local and overseas tourists every year, is staged to mark the Eighth day of the Fourth Moon, in the Chinese calendar (this is usually in early May). It coincides with the local celebration of Buddha's Birthday.

    The Cheung Chau Bun Festival began as a fun and exciting ritual for fishing communities to pray for safety from pirates. Today this religious origin has largely been forgotten, and the festival has mainly become a showcase of traditional Chinese culture
HistoryOne story of the origin of the festival is that in the 18th Century the island of Cheung Chau was devastated by a plague and infiltrated by pirates until local fishermen brought an image of the god Pak Tai to the island. Paraded through the village lanes, the deity drove away evil spirits. Villagers also disguised themselves as different deities and walked around the island to drive away the evil spirits.


    One story of the origin of the festival is that in the 18th Century the island of Cheung Chau was devastated by a plague and infiltrated by pirates until local fishermen brought an image of the god Pak Tai to the island. Paraded through the village lanes, the deity drove away evil spirits. Villagers also disguised themselves as different deities and walked around the island to drive away the evil spirits.



    A notice announces that McDonald's is selling vegetarian burgersEvery year on the 8th day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar, the islanders organise a weeklong thanksgiving, the Cheung Chau Bun Festival usually in April or May. The festival lasts for seven days. On three of these days the entire island goes vegetarian; most of the island's famous seafood restaurants adhere to this tradition. The local McDonald's also takes meat off the menu and instead sells burgers made of mushrooms.

Parade of Floats / Parade-In-The-Air:

    In addition to traditional lion dances and dragon dances, children dressed as legendary and modern heroes are suspended above the crowd on the tips of swords and paper fans. They form the parade-in-the-air and are all secured within steel frames, though they appear to glide through the air. Parents consider it a great honour for their offspring to be part of the parade.
   This fascinating procession is accompanied by the bedlam of musicians loudly beating gongs and drums to scare away evil spirits. It is led by a spectacular image of Pak Tai, the God of Water and Spirit of the North, to whom the island's Temple of the Jade Vacuity is dedicated.


Here are some divinities Cheung Chau people celebrate in the festival:

Pak Tai-
    Since Cheung Chau is traditionally an island of fisherfolk, Pak Tai is its most revered divinity, since it is believed he has the power to confer smooth sailing for the fishing boats as well as providing good catches for their crews. Pious believers recognise him as "Pei Fang Chen Wu Hsuan T'ien Shang Ti" (True Soldier and Superior Divinity of the Deep Heaven of the North).

Tin Hau-
    The second of the significant deities whose images add a supplementary splatter of Oriental holiness to the pageant is the much-revered Tin Hau, Goddess of the Seas and protector of all fishermen and boat people. Celebrated for providing warnings of imminent storms and saving countless lives from wreckage, she is in many ways Pak Tai's competitor for the fondness of the fisherfolk.

Kuan Yin and Hung Hsing-
   Two more gods complete the celestial divinities taking part in the parade: Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy with her tranquil and ever compassionate smile; and Hung Hsing, the terrifying God of the South with his menacing head-dress, unkind face, bushy black beard, and stave at the ready to chastise all enemies.

Bun Snatching

    Steamed buns for the "Bun Mountain", being stamped the crimson characters of the respective district, "Northern Society" shown in a combined way) on the island.The centrepiece of the festival is at Pak Tai Temple where are the "Bun Mountains" or "Bun Towers", three giant 60-feet bamboo towers covered with buns. It is those bun-covered towers that give the festival its name. Historically, young men would race up the tower to get hold of the buns; the higher the bun, the better fortune it was supposed to bring to the holder's family; the race was known as "Bun-snatching". However, during a race in 1978 one of the towers collapsed, injuring more than 100 people. In subsequent years, three designated climbers (one climber to each tower) raced up their respective towers and having cleared the top buns proceeded to strip the towers of their buns as they descended.

    The three "Bun Mountains" are still placed in the area in front of Pak Tai Temple, and are constructed using the traditional fixation method -- bamboo scaffolding.
In 2005, a single tower climbing event in the adjacent sports ground was revived as a race -- with extra safety precautions including proper mountain-climbing tools as well as tutorials for participants (which now include women). A teamwork version of the event was added in 2006.The revised version of "Bun-snatching" as well as the traditional three "Bun Mountains" still have their buns removed from the towers at midnight of the Festival.
    In February 2007, it was further announced that the buns on the single-tower construct will henceforth be made of plastic. During the festival, Chinese operas, lion dances, and religious services also take place on the island.

Burning of Paper Effigies

    At a quarter to midnight a paper effigy of the King of the Ghosts is set ablaze, enormous incense sticks are lit and the buns are harvested and distributed to the villagers, who, pleased to be sharing in this propitious good fortune, rejoice late into the night

Return of Bun-Snatching

    The new "Bun Mountain" used for bun-snatching competitions. The bun-snatching ritual was abandoned by the government due to the 1978 collapse. Still, a large portion of Cheung Chau villagers regard this as part and parcel of their daily life, and the precious culture of Hong Kong to boot. In addition to the villagers' immense urge to resume the ritual, a local cartoon movie "My life as McDull, " recalled the forlorn ceremony, giving a tinge of nostalgia to its audience. As such, the long-awaited ritual was reintroduced on 15 May 2005. Safety measures were intensified: only 12 well-trained athletes selected from preliminary competitions were permitted to climb on one single "Bun Mountain"; instead of bamboo, the framework of the "Bun Mountains" was made up of steel.


 This recipe comes from www.theidearoom.net . Make a batch for freinds and family, and enjoy it on a PB and J sandwich. I just love homemade jams and jellies, they are 100 times better than store bought stuff.
   Not me! My sister made all these beautiful jars of freezer jam this past week. She was kind enough to share her pictures of them with us. Now…this girl can take amazing pictures. Seeing her photography is what inspired me to learn to improve my own.

Anyways, I love freezer jam! If you have never made any, you need to…NOW! It is seriously so easy! I totally prefer freezer jam to cooked jams and especially store bought jams. The only exception for me is apricot jam. Apricot jam is so much better cooked.
My sister has inspired me to make some more freezer jam as I did not make any last year. So next week, this is what I will spend one of my afternoons (during naptime) accomplishing. I can’t wait!!

Here is What You’ll Need:

4 lbs. of Fresh Berries or fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, plums, peaches)
1.5 cups of Sugar (amount will vary according to fruit and pectin used. There are some pectins that can be used to make low-sugar or no sugar versions of jam. Read your directions in the pectin package closely).
1 Pkg. Ball Freezer Jam Pectin
lemon juice (see recipe that comes with Pectin; some need it some don’t)
Freezer-safe canning jars or small tupperware containers.
Wash, stem & slice fruit, then place in a shallow pan.
Use masher to crush berries {consistency will depend on how chunky you like your jam}.
In separate bowl, mix together pectin and sugar.
Add mashed fruit to your mixture and stir for 3 minutes.
Scoop jam into small freezer-safe jars or tupperware containers. Let the jam set for 30 minutes, then store in your freezer or refrigerator. Store in your freezer for up to 1 year, or in refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Recipe makes approximately six 8 oz. jars or twelve 4 oz. jars.
Try mixing a couple of different fruits together for a yummy, unique flavor! A jar of jam makes a great gift for friends, neighbors and especially sisters…hint, hint!

Here is a link to another freezer jam recipe using honey and agar flakes.


some of the moors costumes

    Araquio festival is a celebration traditionally held every May in Nueva Ecija. The festival dates back to the Spanish colonial period and is celebrated with a theatrical/religious presentation similar to Spanish zarzuelas, dramatizing the spread of Christianity in the country and the war between Christians and Muslims.

Some of the Costumes

History and Customs

    The name Araquio is said to have come from "Heraclio", the name of a bishop during the time of Constantine the Great. The first Araquio presentation took place in the town of PeƱaranda, Nueva Ecija over 120 years ago. Before modern musical instruments were available, the bands used instruments made from indigenous materials like bamboo. According to Francisco Vergara Padilla, director of the Araquio group in the barangay of St. Tomas in PeƱaranda, during his grandfather's time they used basins and utensils as substitutes.

    Araquio is usually presented in May, during the feast of the Cross. The date of the feast varies from one town to another. This festival starts with a mass and ends with the elaborate Flores de Mayo celebration. Each performing group is given a day or two to perform in the town plaza, making it a weeklong presentation. Local wealthy families usually make it their spiritual duty to sponsor the festival, sometimes giving no less than fifty thousand pesos.


    Festival performers sing, act and dance while a brass band plays. The choice of songs and choreography varies, but the script has remained the same since the tradition started. It tells of the feud between Muslims and Christians that started over territory. In the play, Christians use the power of the cross, symbolizing their faith, to defeat the Muslims, who later retaliate by stealing the cross. After many battles, the cross is recovered, and the Muslims are Christened.

  Normally, there are 16 performers in each Araquio group. Nine of these play Christians led by Reyna (Queen) Elena and Haring (King) Constantine. The Reyna Elena has two servants, Laida and Blanca. The rest are soldiers named AlbertoArsenio, Rosauro, Fernando and Leonato. The Muslim group, on the other hand, is composed of seven people, led by Ordalisa or Erlisa and the Emperor. Their soldiers are Emir, Dublar, Marmolin, Engras and Sagmar. The male Muslims wear red costumes with feathered headdresses, while the male Christians wear either blue pants and white top or black pants and blue top. The female costumes are similar for both Muslims and Christians, except that the Christian women wear a sash or "banda" while the Muslim women wear feathered headdresses similar to their male counterparts.
    The players stand on an elevated stage, either wood or concrete, during their performance. The presentation also allows for crowd participation. The band plays on and the performers continue their choreography but pause their dialogue to give way to the dancing audience.


    In Irish folklore, the Banshees are known as the ancestral spirits of the Fairy world. Their history extends way back into the dim and mysterious past.
    Banshees are among the oldest Fairy folk of Ireland, associated as strongly as shamrocks and potatoes. Banshees, also known as Bean-Sidhe, were appointed to forewarn members of Irish families of impending death. Her prescence alone brings no harm or evil, but to hear a Banshee in the act of keening is to have witnessed the announcement of the death of a loved one. The Banshee's wail pierces the night and its notes rise and fall like waves over the countryside.
    It is said that Banshees never appear to the one who is to die but to their loved ones. In times gone by she was seen washing human heads, limbs or bloody clothing until the water was dyed with blood.  Over the centuries this image changed. The Banshee now paces the land, wringing her hands and crying. Sometimes she is known as the Lady of Death or the Woman of Peace, for despite her wails she is graced with serenity.
    A Banshee won't cry from just anyone. According to legend, each Banshee mourns for members of one family. Some say only the five oldest Irish families have their own Banshees: the O'Neills, O'Briens, O'Gradys, O'Connors and Kavanaghs.
The Banshee is a solitary Fairy creature who loves the mortal family she is connected to with a fierce, unearthly care and will pace the hills in sorrow when she knows a death is looming.
    She will follow her family's members right across the world-her keening can be heard wherever true Irish are settled, because just like them she never forgets her blood ties. Unseen, she will attend their funerals and her wails mingle with those of the mourners.
Famous tailes of Banshee sightlings are plentiful. One dating back to 114 AD tells of a Banshee attached to the kingly house of O'Brien who haunted the rock of Craglea above Killaloe. Legend has it that Aibhill the Banshee appeared to the aged King Brian Boru before the Battle of Clontard, Which was fought in the same year.
    A recounting from the 18th century concerns a group of children who on an evening walk saw a little old woman sit on a rock beside the road. She began to wail and clap her hands and the children ran away in fear, only to later discover that the old man who lived in the house behind the rock died at that very moment.
    A little girl in the mid-19th century, standing at the window in her house in Cork, saw a figure o the bridge ahead. She heard the Banshee's wails and the figure disappeared but the next morning her grandfather fell as he was walking and hit his head, never to wake up. The same little girl was an old lady by 1900 and one day when she was very ill her daughter heard wailing round and under her bed. The mother didn't see to hear, but sure enough it protended her death.
    A party on a yacht on a Italian lake told its owner they witness a woman with a shock or red hair and a hellish look in her eyes. The owner, Count Nelsini, formally known a O'Neill, became anxious that the Banshee was announcing the death of his wife or daughter, but within two hours he was seized with an angina attack and died.
Descriptions of the Banshee vary but she appears in one of three guises; young woman, stately matron or raddled old hag.
  • A Banshee as a beautiful young girl appears with red-gold hair and a green kirtle and scarlet mantle, traditional dress of Ireland.
  • As matron she is said to be tall and striking, contrasting sharply with the dark of night. She is pale and thin, her eyes red from centuries of crying, her silver-grey hair streaming all the way to the ground as her cobweb-like grey-white cloak clings to her body.
  • In the hag guise she usually wears grey, hooded cloaks or the grave robe of the unshriven dead.  She may appear as a washer-woman or be shrouded in a dark, mist-like cloak.
  • The Banshee can also appear in other forms, such as a stoat, crow or weasel-animals associated in Ireland with witchcraft.
    One of the most notorious tales of a Banshee comes from the memoirs of Lady Fanshaw. Along with her husband, in 1642 she visited a friend in an ancient baronial castle surrounded by a moat. At midnight she was woken suddenly by a ghastly, supernatural scream. Leaping upright in bed, there was a young, handsome woman hovering outside the window in the moonlight. The woman was pale with dishevelled, loose red hair and wearing a dress in the style of the ancient Irish. The apparition stayed for some time and then disappeared with two loud shrieks.
    When morning came, Lady Fanshaw, not without some trepidation, told her host what she had seen. Her friend looked at her gravely and explained that she had seen the family Banshee, the ghost of a woman of inferior rank who married one of his ancestors, but he drowned her in the moat to atone for the shame he had brought on his family. She had come that night, as she always did, to announce a death in the family-one of his relations passed away in her sleep.
    Always appearing as a woman, there is no shortage of legends of Banshee sightings. Stretching back for more than a millennium, the Banshee, continues ringing a death knell for the witness's loved ones.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Image result for calgary stampede 2015 poster

  The Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival held every July in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The ten-day event, which bills itself as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, attracts over one million visitors per year and features the world's largest rodeo, a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuckwagon racing and First Nations exhibitions. Calgary takes on a party atmosphere during Stampede; residents don western wear and events held across the city include ever popular pancake breakfasts and barbecues.
   The Stampede's roots are traced to 1886 when the Calgary and District Agricultural Society held its first fair. American promoter Guy Weadick launched the first rodeo in 1912 though the second was not held until 1919 when the Victory Stampede was organized to honour soldiers returning from World War I.  A 1923 merger with the Calgary Industrial Exhibition created the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede and it has been an annual event since. Over two million people visit Stampede Park annually as events are held throughout the year.
   With over $2 million in prizes, the Stampede is among the richest rodeos in the world and attracts top competitors from across North America.


   The Program for 1912 Calgary Stampede featuring the Big 4: Burns, Lane, Cross, and McLean.  The Calgary and District Agricultural Society was formed in 1884 to promote the town and encourage farmers and ranchers from eastern Canada to move west. The society held its first fair two years later, attracting a quarter of the town's 2,000 residents.  By 1889, it had acquired land on the banks of the Elbow River to host the exhibitions but crop failures, poor weather and a declining economy resulted in the society ceasing operations in 1895. The land passed briefly to future Prime Minister R. B. Bennett who sold it to the city. Naming the area Victoria Park after Queen Victoria, the city leased the land to the newly formed Western Pacific Exhibition Company which introduced a new agricultural and industrial fair in 1898.

   The exhibition grew annually, and in 1908, the Government of Canada announced that Calgary would host the federally funded Dominion Exhibition that year. Seeking to take advantage of the opportunity to promote itself, the city spent C$145,000 to build six new pavilions and a racetrack, held a lavish parade and rodeo, horse racing and trick roping competitions as part of the event. The exhibition was a success, drawing 100,000 people to the fairgrounds over seven days despite an economic recession that afflicted the city of 25,000.

   Guy Weadick, an American trick roper who participated in the Dominion Exhibition as part of the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Real Wild West Show, was drawn back to Calgary in 1912 in the hopes of establishing an event that more closely represented the "wild west" than the shows he was a part of. With the assistance of local livestock agent H.C. McMullen, Weadick convinced businessmen Pat Burns, George Lane, A.J. MacLean, and A.E. Cross to put up $100,000 to guarantee funding for the event. The Big Four, as they came to be known, viewed the Stampede as a final celebration their life as cattlemen. The city built a rodeo arena on the fairgrounds and over 100,000 people attended the six-day event in September 1912 to watch hundreds of cowboys from Western Canada, the United States and Mexico compete for $20,000 in prizes. The Stampede made $120,000 and was hailed as a success. The city was nonetheless not convinced of the viability of the rodeo and it was not held again until 1919 when Weadick was invited to organize the Calgary Victory Stampede to celebrate the city's soldiers returning from World War I.

 Calgary Exhibition and Stampede

   Stampede in-field and the Stampede Showband on the stageThe Calgary Industrial Exhibition continued its annual fair but faced declining attendance into the 1920s. In 1922, it approached Weadick in the hopes he would join his Stampede with the fair and hold both in conjunction. Weadick agreed, and the union created the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.  The combined event was first held in 1923, and Weadick encouraged the city's residents to dress in western clothes for the event and decorate their businesses in the spirit of the wild west.  Civic leaders truly supported the event for the first time; Mayor George Webster followed the suggestion to dress western and allowed downtown roads to be closed for two hours each morning of the six-day event to accommodate street parties.The new sport of Chuckwagon racing was also introduced in 1923 and proved immediately popular. 138,950 people attended and the event earned a profit.  Over 167,000 people attended in 1924 and the success guaranteed that the Stampede and Exhibition would be held together permanently.

   The 1925 silent movie The Calgary Stampede used footage from the rodeo and exposed the event to people across North America. It was the first of at least five movies filmed at the Stampede by 1950. Attendance suffered during the Great Depression but rebounded during World War II. While the Canadian National Exhibition ceased operations during the war, the Stampede remained active and offered the public an escape. Attendance had grown to 240,000 by 1939 – three times the population of Calgary.  Hollywood stars and foreign dignitaries were attracted to the Stampede. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby both served as parade marshals during the 1950s, while Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip made their first of two visits to the Stampede in 1959 as part of their tour of Canada.  The Queen also opened the 1973 Stampede.


   The discovery of Leduc No. 1 in 1946 along with major oil reserves in the Turner Valley area ushered in a period of great growth and prosperity as Calgary was transformed from an agricultural community into the oil and gas capital of Canada.  The city's population nearly doubled between 1949 and 1956, and Calgary's immigrant population not only embraced the Stampede, but encouraged their friends and family in their home towns to do the same. The 1950s represented the golden age of the Calgary Stampede.
   Patsy Rodgers was the first Stampede Queen in 1946 and is seen here as the Parade Marshal in the 2008 Stampede ParadeAttendance records were broken nearly every year in the 1950s, and overall, attendance increased by 200,000 from 1949 to 1959.  The growth necessitated expansion of the exhibition grounds at the same time.  The 7,500 seat Stampede Corral was completed in 1950 as the largest indoor arena in Western Canada.  The board of directors operated the Calgary Stampeders hockey team, which won the Western Hockey League championship in 1954 and helped establish the Corral as the centre of Calgary's sporting world.  During Stampede, acts such as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and Louis Armstrong played the Corral, however the arena's poor acoustics were a frequent concern to organizers and patrons.

   Improvements were made to the grandstand and the race track was rebuilt in 1954.  The Big Four Building, named in honour the Stampede's original patrons, opened in 1959 to serve as the city's largest exhibition hall in the summer, and was converted into a 24-sheet curling facility during the winter.  The improvements failed to alleviate all pressures growth had caused, as despite numerous changes, the Stampede continued to face chronic parking shortages and inability to accommodate demand for tickets to the rodeo and grandstand shows.
   Attendance continued to grow throughout the 1960s and 1970s, topping 500,000 for the first time in 1962 and reaching 654,000 in 1966 prompting organizers to expand the event from six days to nine in 1967 and then to ten one year later.  One million people attended for the first time in 1976. The park, meanwhile, continued to grow. The Round-Up Centre opened in 1979 as the new exhibition hall, and the Olympic Saddledome was completed in 1983. The Saddledome replaced the Corral as the city's top sporting arena, while both facilities hosted hockey and figure skating events at the 1988 Winter Olympics.

   Maintaining the traditional focus on agriculture and western heritage remained a priority for the Stampede as the city grew into a major financial and oil hub in Western Canada. Aggie Days was introduced in 1989 as a means to introduce urban schoolchildren to agriculture and proved immediately popular.  A ten-year expansion plan called Horizon 2000 was released in 1990 detailing plans to grow Stampede Park into a year-round destination for Calgarians, while an updated plan was released in 2004.  Attendance plateued around 1.2 million in recent years, with the current record of 1,262,518 set in 2006.

Stampede Park

    Stampede Grounds as seen from the Calgary Tower. The Saddledome is on the left, and the race track and grandstand in the distance to the right. Stampede Park is located southeast of downtown Calgary in the Beltline District. The park is serviced by Calgary Transit's light rail system as well as neighboring property owners who rent parking spaces during the 10 days of the festival. Permanent structures at the site include the Saddledome and Corral, The Big Four BuildingThe BMO Centre – a convention and exhibition facility, a casino, the Stampede Grandstand, the agriculture building, and a number of facilities that support the exhibition and livestock shows.

   The park remains at its original location, though attempts had been made in the past to relocate.  In 1964, the Stampede Board attempted to purchase former military land in southwest Calgary near Glenmore Trail and 24 Street and relocate the park there. A fully developed plan was released in 1965, and while it had the support of the civic and federal governments, intense opposition from nearby residents quashed the plan. Space concerns remained a constant concern for the Stampede, and plans to push northward into Victoria Park beginning in 1968 began a series of conflicts with the neighborhood and city council.

      Then as the neighborhood fell into steady decline, it was not until 2007 that the final buildings were removed, paving the way for both an expansion of Stampede Park and an urban renewal program for the area. With the land finally secured, the Stampede embarked on a $400-million expansion that is planned to feature a new retail and entertainment district, urban park, a new agricultural arena and potentially a new hotel. The expansion was originally planned to be complete by 2011, but delays and an economic downturn have pushed the expected completion of the project back to 2014.

 Events and Parade

     Parade - Beginning shortly before 9AM on the first Friday, the parade serves as the official opening of Stampede.  Each year features a different parade marshal, chosen to reflect the public's interests at that time. Politicians, athletes, actors and other dignitaries have led the event over the years. The event features dozens of marching bands, 170 floats and hundreds of horses with entrants from around the world, and combines western themes with modern. Cowboys, First Nations dancers, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in their red serges are joined by clowns, bands, political and business leaders. The first Stampede Parade in 1912 was attended by 75,000 people, greater than the city's population at the time. As many as 350,000 people attended the parade in 2009.


 The Stampede rodeo is the largest, and most famous event of its kind in the world. Offering a prize of $100,000 to the winner of each major discipline and $1,000,000 total on championship day, it is also has the richest payout in the world. There are six major disciplines – bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie down roping, saddle bronc and bareback riding – and four novice events – junior steer riding, novice bareback, novice saddle bronc and wild pony racing.

Rangeland Derby/Chuckwagon racing

       Weadick is credited with inventing the sport of Chuckwagon racing in 1923, inspired either by seeing a similar event in 1922 at the Gleichen Stampede or watching impromptu races as he grew up. As it was the first year the Exhibition and Stampede were held together, Weadick wanted to add a new and exciting event. He invited ranchers to enter their chuckwagons and crews to compete for a total of $275 in prize money.
       Chuckwagon races are a popular attraction at the StampedeKnown at the Stampede as the Rangeland Derby, and nicknamed the "half-mile of hell", chuckwagon racing proved immediately popular, and quickly became the Stampede's largest attraction. While just six groups raced in 1923, today's Rangeland Derby consists of 36 teams competing for $1.15 million in prize money.  Races are broadcast nationally by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

    Prior to each Stampede, drivers auction advertising space on their wagons. The first advertisement on the tarp cover of a chuckwagon was made in 1941, Lloyd Nelson became the last person to win the Rangeland Derby without a sponsored wagon in 1956 and the first tarp auction was held in 1979.  The revenue generated by the auctions, over $2 million for the 2010 Stampede, is considered an indicator of the strength of Calgary's economy.

      Though popular, chuckwagon racing is a consistent source of controversy.  Animal rights groups protest the event, arguing that the sport causes undue suffering on the horses.  Racers admit the sport is dangerous, and it is not uncommon for at least one horse to die during each Stampede.  In 1986 and 2002, for instance, six horses each were killed as a result of crashes.  Racers defend their sport amidst the controversy, arguing that the animals are well cared for, and that allowing them to race actually saves the majority from prematurely going to slaughter.


   When the agricultural exhibition was first launched in 1886, Alberta was an overwhelmingly rural province. Today, agricultural producers make less than two percent of the province's population, but the exhibition remains an integral part of the Stampede.  Nearly half of all visitors attend the 50 agricultural programs that are organized by more than 1,000 exhibitors.  In addition to livestock auctions, exhibits and competitions, the Exhibition serves to educate the public about Alberta's ranching and agricultural heritage through events like Agrium Ag-tivity in the City.


Midway on the Stampede Grounds

   The Stampede midway has been operated by Conklin Shows since 1976. The midway is unique within the Stampede, as it is the only aspect of the event operated on a for-profit basis.  It is considered an essential component of the Stampede, but exists separate of the central western themes that dominate all other aspects of it. The midway opens on the Thursday night before Stampede opens and is known as "sneak-a-peek" night.  In addition to the traditional rides and carnival games, the midway features two concert areas - the Coca-Cola Stage and Nashville North, which feature rock/pop and country music respectively, and draw acts from all over North America.
   On July 16, 2010, a midway ride called the Scorpion collapsed at around 8:30 pm. One arm of the carnival ride was said to have collapsed, sending riders to the ground, leaving them with cuts and bruises. 10 were injured, with 6 where taken to hospital for further care.


   The tradition of pancake breakfasts dates back to the 1923 Stampede when a chuckwagon driver by the name of Jack Morton invited passing citizens to join him for his morning meals. That act of hospitality grew over time and today, dozens of companies and community groups hold free pancake breakfasts across the city each day. The largest, by far, is the breakfast hosted at the Chinook Centre shopping mall. Four hundred volunteers are required to feed over 60,000 people who attend the one-day event that enjoyed its 50th anniversary in 2010. Other groups, such as the Calgary Stampede Caravan, feed as many as 120,000 people over the ten days of Stampede. The rising popularity of the barbecue grill in the 1960s and immigrants from the city's population boom at the time brought with it the growth of community and company barbecues throughout the city during Stampede.

 Native Participation

   First Nations peoples had been frequent participants of the Calgary Industrial Exhibition since it was first held in 1886, participating in parades, sporting events and entertaining spectators with native dances. By 1912 however, pressure from agents of the Department of Indian Affairs to suppress their historic traditions and to keep them on their farms nearly ended native participation at the Exhibition. Weadick hoped to include natives as a feature of his Stampede, but Indian Affairs refused, and asked the Duke of Connaught, Canada's Governor General to support their position. The Duke refused, and after Weadick gained the support of political contacts in Ottawa, including future Prime Minister R. B. Bennett, the path was cleared for native participation.

     Six Indian tribes enthusiastically supported the event. Hundreds came to the Stampede, camping in teepees, wearing their finest traditional clothes and proved among the most popular participants of the parade. Tom Three Persons, of the Blood Tribe, emerged as one of the Stampede's first heroes, amazing spectators with a winning performance in the saddle bronc.  Indian Affairs again unsuccessfully sought to ban native participation in 1925, but they have otherwise remained an important part of the Stampede since.

Animal Welfare

   Animal advocacy groups have voiced concern over the Stampede and rodeos in general. The Stampede has countered that they protect the safety of animals, years go by without losses, and they cannot avoid all accidents. After every accident resulting in the death of a human or loss of an animal, the Stampede conducts a review which results in safety modifications.
    In 1986, 12 horses died during the Stampede (most were euthanized because of injuries), making that year the  worst for loss of stock. As a result, the Calgary Stampede implemented major safety changes to make collisions less likely. Between 1995 and 2005 there have been 21 horse deaths at the Calgary Stampede.

     The worst animal accident for a single event related to the Stampede was on July 3, 2005.  Nine horses died after jumping off a bridge and into the Bow River. The accident occurred during the Trail 2005 trail ride from the Stampede's ranch to the city. The incident occurred five days before the beginning of the Stampede. Shortly after the accident, the Calgary Police cleared organizers of any criminal fault, upon finding no wilful intent to cause cruelty.  The Stampede's internal investigation was released in December of the same year and failed to identify the cause. It did rule that the accident was not caused by sudden noise, as was speculated at the time. With its press release, the Stampede indicated they would not try again unless they could ensure safety. Though no future rides were planned, the option to have one in the future was left open.
   In 2009 the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun both refused to run an ad by the Vancouver Humane Society depicting alleged cruelty in the calf roping rodeo event. That same year, four animals were killed at the Stampede when three chuckwagon horses died  and one steer had to be euthanized after incurring a spinal cord injury during the steer wrestling event.
   In 2010, six horses died during competition at the Stampede, the majority due to stress-related injuries. The British League Against Cruel Sports encouraged British travel agencies to boycott the Stampede, and more than 50 members of the United Kingdom's Parliament signed a motion asking the Canadian government to improve the treatment of animals in the rodeo.