Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

My Day at the Stampede

on July 7, 2013

It’s hard to believe that just 2 weeks ago, the Calgary Stampede Grounds were under water, and this week, the Show actuallyCalgary Stampede 101 went on!!

Not that everything is back to normal, and it canNOT be forgotten that many are still displaced (especially in the nearby town of High River), and most are still trying to cope and recover..

But, happy sounds of laughter and shrieking children as they fly across the sky on some way-too-scary ride, and the dingalinging of games people play while theThe Culprity try to win the ultra-stuffed frog that they are then stuck carrying for the rest of the night, and bright shiny lights, and whiffs of donuts and cotton candy and caramel apples, and horses and cows … it all helps.

As you may remember from my last blog, some very wonderful friends gave us their tickets to last night Grandstand Show!

Front and Center (actually, Front and a little off to the side – we had the BEST location for Chuckwagon Races, and a prettMidway Gamesy good view of the Grandstand) – which is especially great, since it’s my first time ever there! (And, Peter’s official “first time” at the Show, too, having spent many teenager years watching the Chuckwagon Races, through a knothole in the fence.)

Our plan was to go early, so we could meander around the Midway area, and munch on “Those Little Donuts” and corndogs, but then we realized:

We are puppy sitting a 7 month old dachshund (Dash) and we have a one year old (Lucy), and it didn’t seem … reasonable… to leave Coco (8 years old) in charge… so some other very wonderful friends agreed to come over and puppy sit…

To make that worth their while, we decided to provide them with a steak and lobster/crab dinner… Eventually, it became clear that… we wanted Steak and Crab/Lobster more than we wanted corndogs… Sooooo, we stayed home instead.Those Little Donuts

So! we made a mad dash to the Stampede Grounds, screeched to a halt at the Mini Donut shop, short line up, grabbed our donuts.. (by the way, they weren’t THOSE Little Donuts, but they were REEEEALLY good anyway…)
Donuts in the Making

and ran, and screeched to a halt at the Stampede Marching Band, which happened to be playing “Carry On”, by FUN, which has been adopted by Calgary as “Their Song”, especially the Chorus of “If you’re lost and alone, Or sinking like a stone, Carry on, May your past be the sound, Of your feet upon the ground, Carry on… We are shining stars… we are who we are… We will find our way home… Carry on… Carry on…”"Calgary's Finest"

Finally, we found our seats for the evening. By the way, it was POURING rain earlier and we were afraid we weren’t going to make it, but then the sun came out and the sky was completely blue, just in time to kick off with the Chuckwagon Races (officially called the GMC Rangeland Derby).

Now, they give you a demonstration and tell you what to expect, and what the rules are, and … I’m sure that was SUPER Interesting! AND, I kinda wished I paid attention (without paying attention, you get a good idea what’s going on, so don’t panic if you miss the instruction period, too), BUT, well… I was… distracted…)

The Chuckwagon Races were 9 heats, and 4 teams each time.  They race each night and then the Grand Winner is determined in the end. (There’s also a nightly winner.)  Then, there’s also some rules about not knocking over barrels and something about the Outrider coming in behind (I think that’s right) the team… Oh, see? I was sort of listening.
DSC02332 DSC02333Barrel down

 Without knowing (most of) the rules, I still had a great time! In fact! It could be even better NOT to know. For example: after the horses and wagons and outriders had thundered by, I’d look back and be surprised to see a barrel down – meanwhile, someone who knew what was going on, would see that right away, and not have that element of surprise!

An Outrider

After the Chuckwagon Races ended (9 heats goes by just like that), I wondered how they could call the little announcer stage, “the Grand Stage” for the Grandstand Show! And then, I saw this coming:The Grand Stage Cometh

The Heebee-Jeebees kicked off the show with a get-the-crowd involved musical and comedy routine, and introduced the next acts.  One of the things I really appreciated about the whole Show is that they set up the stage for the next act while the previous act was still on stage, incorporating the action of switching the stage into the act before.  Very well done – no wait time.

I can’t write a play-by-play, but it was ALL amazing! Enjoyed all of the acts (one was less favorite, but I won’t tell you who, and some were MORE favorite, and I may tell you who! 😀 )

So: the night included:Beijing Acrobats

~ Acrobats and Ballet Dancers from Beijing, China (The program says the Flag Circus and Pole on Globes, but I didn’t actually see Globes, sooo it could be my angle, or maybe that was changed…? However – we DID see an amazing show of dancing and an INCREDIBLE acrobatic act)Beijing Acrobats

Beijing Ballet

DSC02381DSC02382

~ Atherton Twins ~ Andrew and Kevin, who are gymnasts, originally from the U.K., who performed with Cirque du Soleil for the last 13 years.
Atherton TwinsAtherton Twins 2Atherton TwinThe Young Canadians

~ The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede ~ who have performed at the Calgary Stampede for the past 45 years – the youngest was…I forget – really little (I think 7 years old?)- and the oldest is 21.

~ The Alberta Ballet ~ with a little baseball number, performed by Sir Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets“.
Bennie and the Jets
During THAT performance, I was completely distracted by horse skeletons “galloping” across the sky (I d"As they ride across the sky"idn’t get very many good pictures of that, because I switched to video – the pictures look a little awkward, but they were really graceful!), which was the segue into the First Nations’ dances, which are always my favorite, as I’ve mentioned previously.  After that – my pictures all start to blend.

There were two segments of First Nation dancers, but I don’t know which were which (I’M SORRY! but everything was blending so well, and even though they announced it, I was caught up in it all, and didn’t write anything down.)

The groups included Dallas Arcand and Treaty 7 First Nations (Dallas, from the Cree Nation, is famous for his Hoop Dancing) , and also the Spirit Eagle Dancers (who’ve been dancing at the Stampede since it began in 1912.)
Hoop DancersDSC02482
Hoop Dancing to Donovan Seidle
The Hoop Dancing was performed to the music of Donovan Seidle of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (Donovan also had his own segment on the Show too – he’s amazing!)
Calgary Philharmonic, with Donovan Seidle

Like I said, the shows were melting into eachother, so I can’t really remember how Raghav appeared on the stage.  I think his dancers might’ve intermingled with some of the Beijing dancers…

Raghav’s musRaghav and crewic is a fusion of hip-hop and R&B, with a Bollywood background. Very energetic. Very entertaining.

Then one scene became another scene which became another scene and when the smoke cleared, THIS was the stage:

KISS, by the Destroyers

They opened with “Rock and Roll all Night” – they have been playing for almost 20 years (oops – I forgot to mention – I’m talking about THIS band, Destroyer, the most famous and convincing KISS tribute band)  – so convincing that people around me actually thought it was KISS at first.  (I mean, you can’t blame them really – KISS was supposed to be at the Stampede this year, but their venue (the Calgary Saddledome) was flooded out and the concert got cancelled… That would’ve been a GREAT surprise if ALL of them showed up on that stage… huh… that’d be SUPER COOL if they did! They were supposed to be here July 13th… THAT would be the day to go to the Grandstand Show…just in case)
KISS Tribute Band, The DestroyersKISS Tribue Band, The Destroyer

While I was distracted by the fireworks over the KISS/Destroyer stage, Peter said: “Hey! look!” and then something like:Flying piano “Look at that Blue Floating Piano.”

PRIZE for best entrance goes to Marc Martel, who (apparently) resembles Freddie Mercury… although I don’t see it. BUT, he can SING Queen songs and did! I have to confess, at this point… I want to say he sang “We are the Champions” and I’m almost certain he did, but I was SO distracted by the flying piano, I can’t say for sure.  (Peter says, that Yes, it was “We are the Champions“, and he also sang “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (after the piano landed)…
More Flying PianoMarc Martel

Segue, segue, enter Cinderella by sky. When she came, the lady behind me, said (I think she was saying it in awe, but, unfortunately, it got caught in my recording): “She looks like a Barbie Princess Cake.”  WHICH was funny, BUT terrible timing, because it is in my recording of my absolute most favorite song: O Mio Bambino Caro.  (The link is by my FAVORITE Michelle MinkeOpera singer ever (also the only one, other than the Pavarotti, that I actually know), Kiri te Kanawa, but the one performing at the Stampede, is Michelle Minke , of the Calgary Opera ~ her singing was amazing, but I couldn’t find anything on-line, to attach.  I myself, only took a couple of pictures with my cell phone, because I was recording her performance with my camera… Love that song. So beautiful. Sigh.)

And, from there, we moved into the Grand Finale.
Grand Finale
DSC02511 DSC02524 DSC02525 DSC02527
The Show that Must Go On, WILL go on, until next Sunday, July 14th, for the GRAND Grand Finale! and then we wait for Stampede 102.Minions

Our evening wasn’t quite over – as we wandered around downtown Calgary, trying to find a cab, we DID come across this truckload of Minions.  THAT doesn’t happen every day!!!!

See you Wednesday!

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