The festivities associated with the world’s largest rodeo aren’t limited to the Stampede grounds. Everywhere you turn in Calgary, someone’s throwing a party. And chances are it will be in a parking lot.Throw down a hay bale and some cowboy tchotchkes and you’re ready for a roundup.The Calgary Home + Design Show isn’t until September 19th, but that’s no reason not to have a Stampede party. The way Show Manager Jill Kivett and Amanda Haines of Reformation PR rock their daisy dukes and boots, it makes you think this is not their first rodeo.Before Stampede I had lofty plans of wearing a different cowboy hat for every blog post, but as the days on the dusty road start to blur together, I’m leaning on the ol’ wild rose lid a lot. At this point, I’m more concerned with pacing myself. Early in the day, with those cowprint balloons above my head, I’m exuding a respectable healthiness. Kinda like that yogurt commercial.The smartest strategy to maintain a semblance of sobriety is to eat a big meal. With Gaucho Brazillian BBQ providing the best grub of the week, it wasn’t hard to do.It’s hard to leave when the western wear is this good, but another parking lot was calling my name. My Stampede name. Which I haven’t thought of yet, but I’m sure I’ll come up with a great one next week, once the chucks champs have packed up their wagons. Ran into this purple pardner on the way to Jim Pattison’s party. A brief bicep battle was the only appropriate reaction.Inside, more cowboy accoutrements than I could sling a gun at. Stampede is kind of like Halloween, except everyone is wearing the same costume. Except for that dude in the red plaid shirt who photobombed with aplomb.This cowgirl kindly allowed me to take a picture of her booty.And, in the Wearing a Ten Gallon Hat Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Play Bagpipes category, Calgary’s finest showed up for a little pipe and drums. Highland dancing officers proved there’s more ways to bust a move than the two-step.Bye bye, Amber Big Plume, from Tsuu T’ina Nation, the 2013 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. Gotta git to the next!This sake glass is where it started to get sloppy. Maybe it was because I took a break from the parking lots to get some sushi at Zen8. But more likely it was because the sushi corralled me toward the VIP suites at the biggest parking lot party of them all. Giddyup!Happy Stampede indeed. During this marathon 10-day event that turns all Calgarians into cattle drivers, rodeo champions or barrel-racing princesses, all chutes seem to lead to the Cowboys Tent. Which led me to Outrider Steve Sirianni, who, being from Vegas, moonlights as Executive Director of Slots at the Monte Carlo Casino. I’m feeling lucky!
Time flies when you’re evacuated! The Calgary Stampede is well underway, in keeping with their “Come Hell or High Water” pledge, and continues til Sunday. It had to happen. It’s like the New Orleans Saints winning the Superbowl after Katrina, although the timing was on hyper fast forward. Even though some of us in the dark, damp and powerless neighborhoods may be wondering if city inspectors have forsaken us for deep-fried butter on the midway, all we can do is trade our rubber boots for cowboy boots — mud be damned!Stampede starts with a good set of boots. Hopefully this cowgirl got back to the farm before the downpour that set off more flash floods. It’s been a rainy start to the rowdy roundup.Okay, okay, I’ll lighten up. Just because bartenders like this make it easy. The pose was his idea, btw. Meanwhile, can you spot the two clues that this photo was taken in Canada? Hint: look at the money, honey. And the sign for bladder relief.The famed Cowboys Tent, on the edge of the Stampede Grounds, was a veritable style corral.Check out the cowgirl cannister clutch.The devil is in the details. Or at Stampede, is it the corporate presence? Because this buckaroo didn’t win his buckle at the rodeo.Bumped into Conservative Cowboy Lindsay Blackett, who has made the leap from culture to construction. Somewhere along the way he must have stopped at a politically correct dude ranch. I predict a public service comeback.Then the music got louder and leather-encased toes started tapping.Tulle and tall boots are a license to twirl.Ten gallon hats as far as the eye could see. Totally depending on how far your eyes could focus.Boot scootin’ through crushed Corona cans.It’s official. It’s a party! Lace shirt, Guess. Little black dress, Bebe. Belt, strategic cowboy-meets-Indian combo. Happy Stampede!