July 14, 2021

A Stampede Parade like no other

Five fun facts about this year’s parade, plus photos from behind the scenes
Calgary Stampede parade
Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

After COVID-19 forced it to take last year off, the Calgary Stampede is once again in full swing following its parade on July 9.

The Stampede Parade looked a little different this year for one thing, it never left Stampede Park and was televised rather than passing by thousands of spectators but the spirit of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth was as strong as ever.

We spoke to parade expert Teri McKinnon, honorary life director with the Stampede, who says parade volunteers tried their best to replicate the experience that many know and love in this year’s virtual parade.

“The parade has always been a gathering place in the heart of downtown for the community to launch our signature event,” says McKinnon.

What was different this year?

The 2021 Stampede Parade was downsized to accommodate enhanced safety measures, and McKinnon says there were a few things that made this parade different and memorable from past presentations:

  1. Usually, approximately 400,000 people turn up in person to watch the parade along the route through downtown.

    Since the parade was virtual this year, viewers experienced it on local television, YouTube and Amazon Prime.
  2. On average, more than 2 million people watch the parade on television.

    This was the only way to watch the parade this year, and more than 60,000 people watched on YouTube alone. Watch the parade if you missed it.
  3. An estimated 4,000 people and more than 700 horses from more than 160 parade entries usually participate.

    The Stampede limited the number of entries to 25 this year, with a maximum of 25 volunteers per entry. That adds up to a maximum of 625 people participating in the parade — a fraction of a normal year.
  4. The parade route is normally 4.8 kilometres in length and takes approximately two hours to pass by any one point.

    This year, the route was restricted to Stampede Park and only one kilometre was televised. This shortened the amount of time an entry was on television to a couple of minutes since the parade only lasted for 45 minutes.
  5. Some spectators play “Stampede Bingo with some help from the horses.

    This popular interactive game involves drawing chalk square grids at intersections along the parade route, with participants betting on where passing horses will poop. Of course, this was not possible this time around, but, with approximately two tons of manure deposited on the parade route in a normal year, make sure to pack your chalk for the next in-person parade.

UCalgary was fortunate to be included in this year's parade and our volunteers were excited to be part of a this historically different parade. Check out these behind-the-scenes photos. 

The 2021 Calgary Stampede returns July 9 to 18 – volunteers and employees look forward to welcoming you back for a safe celebration. As a proud partner of the Calgary Stampede, UCalgary will feature opportunities to get in the spirit throughout the week.