With the Calgary Stampede done for another year, it’s time for us to look back and well, okay some of you should just be proud if you remember anything from this year’s Stampede, but for the rest of us, it’s a good time to both look back and look ahead and see how we can improve on what’s truly become a gargantuan event.

One of the top headlines about Stampede 2015 was that attendance was down, by somewhere around 95,000 people. Not a massive number by Stampede’s standards, but a number that shows that maybe a change might be needed.

There’s likely lots of reasons why numbers were down. I think the heat definitely played a factor, as did the fact that Calgary is going through a bit of thing right now with jobs (in the sense that many have lost them.)  But besides that, I think there’s a bit of a general fatigue with people who’ve been to the Stampede more than a handful of times. So since no one asked me, here’s my completely unsolicited advice on how I’d fix Calgary Stampede 2016.


Ditch the $25 parking!

Who else’s neck is sore from doing a double take when they saw that it cost $25 to park on the Stampede grounds?  Below the cost of parking, there was a small mention that the price of parking goes towards supporting youth and agriculture education programs. And who is going to complain about that? Well, I am, apparently.  $25 just to get to park , plus admission, a typical family has spent almost $100 before they’ve even done a single thing at the Calgary Stampede. And while I’m happy that the profits go to youth programs, if normal Calgarians can’t afford their own Stampede because they are subsequently helping to fund youth programs, then that doesn’t really make sense to me.  Charge a good price, so that not everyone drives down to the grounds, but there has to be a better balance.

Bring on the craft brews!

In my Metro column last week, I said it was time for the Calgary Stampede to finally allow breweries like Big Rock, Village and WildRose on to the grounds.  The demand for Stampede to support local craft brews grows more and more every year and it’s definitely not going away. So why not budge a bit? Why not have a small beer garden in the corner of the grounds?  Labatt is the champion sponsor, let them have the whole park, fine. I’ll still drink it, but every now and then, it would be nice to know that my beer bucks are staying in Calgary.

In fact, more local everything!


For the first time ever, Etsy and a dozen or so local artisans teamed up and had their own section at the BMO centre. This was a really great idea because between the miracle steam mops and whatever the heck those chair vibrators are massaging, heaven knows the BMO centre could use some more local products.  With more than 100,000 people walking through the gates each day, the Stampede has an amazing opportunity to not only be a great showcase for local entrepreneurs, but they can also help them put some money in their likely-empty pockets. Again, it’s great that the Stampede can help so many organizations, but with a few simple tweaks, they can help hundreds of Calgarians just trying to make a living.


Holding out for a pop star!

With no disrespect to Stevie Wonder, when he’s the biggest pop star to visit the Calgary Stampede in two years, then I think we’re missing something. The last two years of Stampede concert line-ups have been amazing…if you’re a country music fan. If not, then you’ve been forced to get your pop-fix from the always crowded and dreadful Coke Stage, and a man can only see Marianna’s Trench so many times. I know that the Calgary Stampede is all about country music, but would it kill organizers to sneak in a Pink, Katy Perry or hell, I’d even take an Iggy Azalea…wait, no scratch that. No ones wants that.


Let everyone see the Young Canadians!

I don’t dare weigh into the chuckwagon debate, at least not today (but things ain’t good lately). But one thing I’ve never understood is that you have to buy a ticket to the chuckwagon races just to see the grandstand show, and if you’ve ever been to either, you know that they are very different, that’s why so many people leave right after the chucks.  But for all those people, there are people who just want to see the Young Canadians and the Grandstand show. Now, I know that somehow organizing tickets for the chucks and a separate grandstand show would be nothing short of a shit-show, but right now, it’s frustrating for people who don’t necessarily support the chuckwagon races but want to see the grandstand show, which for the record was really, really good this year!

What did you think of this year’s Stampede? What would you change?

Mike Morrison


  1. 1 – parking for $25 isn’t that bad. $6 a person for a family of four. If you want to whine about the high price of parking start at city hall. I rent out my parking stall at $300 a month right beside kerby station year round. It is what it is. Also don’t try to fudge the $100 line by omitting the days where children and families get in free – thats just crap.

    2 – when craft brews bring the same level of money to play with the big boys then fine. Until then then they will remain in the realm of the kensington neckbeard community. Very few people truly care about craft at the stampede.

    3- More local everything? Get off your arse and advertise like the mop people. No one is turning away Calgary talent and never have. This is crap and designed to be pure clickbait.

    4- POP stars? for free? No, thats where a % of the admission goes. Better acts cost more money.

    5 – Stop whining about whats wrong and maybe look at whats right. It’s easy to ‘blog’ about things you don’t like but how much free time did you contribute this year (or next) to make a difference?

    After all, talk minus action equals zero. Blogging is all talk and no action.

  2. Finding water IS the worst. The newer buildings all have the automatic taps that only give warm water. There are a few fountains beside the old style portable washrooms though. North end of the Grandstand and kids midway come to mind right away. I bought one lemonade and filled it 6 times. Don’t hold your breath about water stations though. It’s not Folk Fest. They want to cram that Dasani down your throats. As for parking, City Hall is a great option for the evenings and weekends if you don’t mind walking. If you want a real Stampede experience though, join a committee or become a sponsor. All you have to do is work for free for 10 days! But, oh the free stuff. I can’t complain too much though. I do it to myself.

  3. I agree with what someone said about selling passes for several days, or just something to cut down the cost for admission. The price is going up every year and on top of that you have to pay so much for the food. It becomes way too expensive of an outing.

    Also water fill stations would be awesome!

  4. Great points Mike. Live the idea about better local micro brew although I think it the price point would be way too high. If bud costs 8$ on the grounds I can’t imagine what they would charge for a quality loca beer

    Parking I disagree with. The cost (hopefully) incentivizes families and everyone else to hop on a train and use public infrastructure. We also built some spiffy new bike lanes that are mapped almost directly in the grounds

    Brilliant idea about Coke Stage. Blow that thing up and rebuild. Make the venue bigger and attract better acts. The country crowd can have the Dome!

    thanks for the good read, Tim

  5. I love all of these ideas people gave in the comments! In addition, my two cents:

    1. Bring back the fresh fruit/food market in the big four instead of cramming in more drinking space
    2. Explode the etsy booth to me 5 times the size and get rid of some of other commercial vendors
    3. In the artisan show it would be great If you could showcase half of the art to be more contemporary and not “western”. Just like mike said with the music…. Western is ok but if all of it is western with no other choices it gets pretty boring. There are so many awesome artists in calgary! Amp up the awesome in this area so the crowd wants to come.
    4. Agreed with others. Move Indian village to be more prominent, and rename.

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