Richard White, June 11, 2014
After the devastating flood of 2013, the Calgary Stampede had some tough decisions to make as the Board and Management pondered its future. Rather than just fix the place up, the Stampede commenced with its mega-million dollar makeover plan.
Calgarians won’t recognize this year’s Stampede Park. Almost 50% of the outdoor space has been reconfigured and several major new players are participating for the first time!
Nine things to know about Stampede 2014….
The Great FUNtier is the name of the Stampede’s new Kids Zone. It has been moved to the area south of the Saddledome and north of the racetrack. The space, now 25% larger than the old Kids Zone, will allow for more greenery, easier stroller maneuvering and more seating. In addition to the kid’s midway, there will also be a mini Grandstand Stage for live entertainment.
The location is also convenient to the family-oriented agricultural programming at the new Agrium Western Event Centre and the RCMP Musical Ride tent.
Did you know that park admission is free for kids under 6? There is also free admission for children aged 7 to 12 on specially marked Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero in stores now.
The Grandstand Show is getting a makeover by new Creative Director, Dave Pierce who was the Musical Director for Vancouver’s Winter Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies. Pierce, an Emmy Award winner, brings a new vision and energy to Grandstand extravaganza. The theme for this year’s show is “Barnburner.” The opening segment features Tom Glass (one of Alberta famous chuckwagon families) telling his family’s story using a series of mega comic book action figures.
The costumes for Barnburner have been designed by Genvieve Cleary and built by Marco Marco Studio, famous for designing the costumes of Katie Perry and Britney Spears.
The permanent stage is also being completely redesigned by Paul Bates who was responsible for Cirque Du Soleil’s “O” stage. It includes the latest in pyrotechnics and amazing stage effects capacity. The new stage will be one of Canada's most technologically advanced theatrical stages.
The new $62 million Agrium Western Event Centre (AWEC) with its dramatic rotunda entrance designed by Calgary’s Gibbs Gage Architects, is just the beginning of rebuilding Stampede Park. The new building which opened recently adds much needed, year-round event and trade show space as well as a classroom for hands-on school programs. AWEC has already hosted Canada’s largest ever 4H club gathering.
Nashville North has moved “north,” closer to Cowboys Dance Hall tent and the Stampede Casino to create a “party zone” - some have already dubbed it the adult entertainment zone (good clean fun of course)! This could be an interesting precursor to the creation of the year- round Stampede Trail – a pedestrian entertainment-oriented street of retail, restaurants, pubs and clubs along Olympic Way (4th Street SE) linking it with East Village.
“Sneak a Peek!” Paul Hardy has been engaged to procure some uber-chic 2014 Stampede merchandise, some of which is already available at Hardy’s Inglewood studio tucked away at Bay#5, 2510 Alyth Rd. SE. in Calgary's funky Inglewood/Ramsay community.
“Go Big or Go Home” could be the theme of this year’s Stampede with the introduction of the 777-pound burger ($5,000) and the 125-pound hot dog ($1,000). Juicy’s Outlaw Grill is bringing the world’s largest grill (the size of a transportation truck) to this year’s Stampede. This is a first in Canada. Check out the video.
Biggest Pop-up Patio? Triple B (Barbecue, Bulls, Beer) is also making its first visit to Canada creating a patio for you and 999 of your closest friends. With two mechanical bulls on site, it should make for great people-watching.
WWW Food! Every year the Stampede brings some wild, weird and wacky food combinations to Calgary. This year is no exception. The Scorpion Pizza has to be the weirdest, followed closely by Deep Fried Cheezies, Polish Poutine, Porcupine Corn Dog, and Vicious Fish on a Stick.
Did you know the Calgary Stampede is one of North America’s biggest music festivals? For the first time, the Dome is fully booked with shows every night by the likes of Shania Twain, Reba McEntire, Keith Urban and Calgary’s own Paul Brandt. In total Stampede 2014 includes over 340 musical performances at 15 different venues.
2012 was the Stampede's 100th birthday, 2013 was the year of the Great Flood and 2014 will be remembered as the beginning of the new 21st century Calgary Stampede. The Calgary Stampede is truly one of the best annual festivals in the world. It is six major events all wrapped up into one mega extravaganza - Grandstand Show, Rodeo, Chuckwagon Races, Midway, Agricultural Fair and Music Festival.
Stampede Park is not only one of North America's best and oldest urban Agricultural Fair sites, but also one of the largest, busiest and most authentic SHED districts (Sports, Hospitality, Entertainment District) in North America.
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