Party like a cowgirl

From deep fried pickles to Spirit of the West

photo by toque & canoe

So where do you begin when you’re looking for a classic Stampede night out?

Stampede-goers have been celebrating “the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” in style for 99 years now. And these days, there’s no shortage of ways to experience this cowboy party.

Want to nosh on prairie oysters (a.k.a. bull testicles)? Check out Buzzards.

Is two-stepping with real cowboys more up your alley? Then head to The Ranchman’s.

Or are you a thrill-seeker? Because free-falling from the Drop of Doom down at the grounds is also an option. (Did it once. Won’t do it again.)

Anyway, here’s a snapshot of what we chose to do this year.

We launched our night on the outdoor patio of Toque’s favourite pub (The Ship and Anchor) with a few cold bevvies, wickedly yummy poutine and savoury, deep-fried dill pickles. (Veggies, ahem, aren’t typical Stampede fare.)

The Ship was jammed with its usual super-friendly crowd – everyone enjoying the Stampede spirit that permeates Cowtown this time every year.

Fuelled up, we made our way to the grounds. People watching. Grabbing bags of hot kettle corn. Then taking in the chuckwagon races where – along with crowds going mad with excitement – we watched teams of horses thunder around the tracks.

We wrapped up our night with the Wildhorse Saloon and a Spirit of the West gig that took us back to beer-sodden university days.

Concert highlight? Watching lead singer John Mann bounce bonelessly around stage as he belted out epic hit “Home for a Rest.”

Happily exhausted and with ears ringing, we took Mann’s advice and went home for a (well-earned) rest.

Next year, the Stampede will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Ask spokesperson Jennifer Booth about plans for the big event and she cracks a coy, cowgirl smile.

“I can’t tell you anything…yet.”

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