I grew up in the Texas of Canada.
Where I come from, the guys wear steel-toed boots, thick plaid coats and Wrangler jeans with a skoal ring. Girls let their hair down in loose ringlets and learn to ride horses before they can walk. Weathered farmers sit outside surveying their fields, spitting chewing tobacco into rusted beer cans and stroking steel-string guitars while incessantly complaining about the weather.
In Northern Alberta, we are country. It’s only fitting that the stampedes and rodeos that surround the miles of flat land I call home are rough, dirty and authentic.
I’ve been to my fair share of country shindigs, so I feel equipped to direct tourists and travellers to the best. Here are eleven rodeos and stampedes in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan that you shouldn’t miss this summer:
Williams Lake Stampede
Dates: June 29 – July 2, 2017
What better way to celebrate Canada Day than cheering on the top cowboys, bull riders and barrel racers at the Williams Lake Stampede? This year marks the 91st annual rodeo in Williams Lake, with events including bull riding, saddle bronc, bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping and their signature mountain race.
Fort St. John Rodeo
Dates: July 22 & 23, 2017
After not being hosted for 12 years, the Fort St. John Rodeo is back! There will be at least four youth events, and adult events including tie-down and team roping, steer riding and breakaway. With a dance and beer gardens to follow, the revamped Fort St. John rodeo has received keen interest and support from local and nearby communities.
Cranbrook Professional Rodeo
Dates: August 28 – 20, 2017
Top cowboys and cowgirls will be competing at the 31st annual Cranbrook Pro Rodeo. Fans can quench their thirst at the beer gardens and fill their bellies with classic concession food. Don’t miss the rodeo dance on Saturday night. Sunday is Children’s Day.
Government of Alberta
Dates: June 27 – July 3, 2017
Come out to watch classic and unique events like ladies barrel racing, bareback riding and kids wild pony racing. There are impressive cash prizes up for grabs and endless entertainment including stage shows, fireworks, a talent show and a 3-mile long parade. If that’s not enough, you’ll find 85 vendors selling fresh, local produce at the Ponoka’s Farmers Market in the Arena Complex.
Calgary StampedeCanadian Tourism Commission
Dates: July 7 – 16, 2017
The most well-known rodeo in Canada is crowded, rowdy and country. While in my opinion, it is more commercialized than authentic—it’s full of more visiting city-slickers in brand-new plaid and polished boots than actual rough-and-tough cowboys—it is an experience all in its own. You have to go at least once.
Teepee Creek Stampede
Dates: July 13 – 16, 2017
If you’re looking to get muddy, drink beers with cowboys and get spun around and flipped while dancing with bull riders, Teepee Creek Stampede is for you. This down-and-dirty country event brings out local country folk that compete in bull riding, chuck wagons and two-stepping to live country music in the rustic red Community Hall, which was built in the late-1930s.
Bonnyville Pro Rodeo
Bonnyville Pro Rodeo,
Dates: July 27 – 30, 2017
This little town of 5,000 kicks things up with the Bonnyville Professional Rodeo and Chucks. Events include a dance, midway, pancake breakfast, chili cook-off and kid’s day.
Donna Howton @dsquarephotography
Dates: August 4 – 7, 2017
A little bit of Spain comes to Alberta with Strathmore Stampede's “Running with the Bulls” event. Participants take the plunge to show off their bravery by signing up to run alongside three rounds of wild, bucking bulls. Afterward, chuckwagon races take over the show.
Camrose Bulls for Breakfast at BVJ
Dates: August 3 – 6, 2017
What pairs better than pancakes and bulls for breakfast? Pancakes, bulls and pro riders, of course! Big Valley Jamboree, one of Alberta’s biggest country music festivals, puts on a show with trick riders, show horses and feisty bulls Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning at 10 a.m.
Last Mountain Rodeo
Dates: July 1- 2, 2017
Location: Strasbourg Ball Grounds
Come down for the parade July 1st at 11a.m. and stay for barrel racing, the food booth and beer gardens on-site July 2nd. It’s a fun weekend full of family-friendly events.
Wood Mountain Stampede
Dates: July 7 – 9, 2017
The 128th annual Wood Mountain Stampede is Canada’s oldest continuous rodeo. Since 1890, cowboys have been riding bulls, racing horses and team roping here. On Friday and Saturday evening, adults can enjoy a cabaret with live music featuring Navajo.
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