Can’t make it to Calgary for the 100th anniversary of the Stampede this July? Well, we may not be able to get you to the big rodeo or on a giant ferris wheel, but what we can do is share some tips to help you throw an awesome Stampede party in your own backyard.

Dress The Part, Boots ‘n all!
For starters, denim, cowboy boots are a given. These days, plaid is everywhere, thanks to all those hipsters across Canada. But this is one occasion where the pattern is definitely appropriate and most clothing stores will have an ample selection. You could also try encouraging guests to rummage through second-hand stores for some Stampede-appropriate apparel. You’ll be rewarded with some truly one-of-a-kind gems to wear for the party. Rhinestone cowboy boots with matching hat anyone?

Wild Western Party Fare
Weather permitting, a Stampede party is best experienced outdoors. Covered patio or picnic tables with red and white patterned cloth is a must. Use large mason jars and an assortment of vintage mismatched plates instead of regular glasses and dinnerware. It’ll give your gathering that “back-in-the-days” feel. Swing by a pet store and grab a couple small bags of hay to sprinkle around the table. Last, but not least, a party is nothing without tunes. A country-centric playlist is strongly recommended. Be sure to include artists such as Shania Twain, Paul Brandt, Brad Paisley, and, of course, Garth Brooks!

Rustle up some Grub!
Barbecue. It’s the classic fare for all things Stampede and sometimes, you just don’t mess with a good thing! To really emulate a Stampeding atmosphere, the smoke billowing (controllably!) from an outdoor grill will do just that. Marinate some steaks and pork chops overnight in a great barbecue sauce for optimum flavour. Wrap some potatoes in tin foil and pop them on the grill as a hearty, not to mention easy, side.
Pulled Pork is another great option. It can be prepped several days ahead. All you need to do come the day of the Stampede party is reheat and serve with some slider buns and creamy coleslaw.

Try making a few different batches of barbecue sauce from scratch. It’s surprising easy. Here are a few suggestions to help put a nice twist on a basic barbecue recipe.

  • Espresso: Toss in some espresso (brewed, not the beans!) to get a rich kick in the sauce
  • Root Beer: Adds a nice touch of sweetness and sassafras root is definitely cowboy-approved.
  • Merlot: A nice red wine will deepen the flavour and appease even the most ‘elite’ cow folks at your party.

Dessert for a Stampede-Style Sweet Tooth
The fairway food stands at the Stampede are known for their ridiculous offerings. This year, deep-fried Kool-Aid and Bacon Funnel Sundae Cake are just two examples of the obscure items you’ll find on the grounds. Now, we’re not saying to make anything that crazy, but if you’re willing to get a little goofy, try making some homemade elephant ears (aka beaver tails) and top them with a ‘healthy’ portion of cotton candy. Good for you? No. Will it taste delicious? Yes!

Barring that, a nice batch of small dessert pancakes, topped with cream cheese icing and berries would be a nice ode to the hundreds of pancake breakfasts that take place in Calgary during the 10-day festival.

What do Cowboys drink?
Back in 1912 when the first Calgary Stampede kicked off, real cowboys and cowgirls drank whiskey from their flasks or enjoyed an ice-cold brew. As nice as a few shots of whiskey are, let’s keep this party a bit more elevated. Stick with go-to cocktail for the evening, like a whiskey sour, and have a cooler stocked full of great micro-brew beers.

Going out with a bang!
We suppose it depends which Canadian city you live in, but every night of the Calgary Stampede closes with a grand fireworks display. We’re not encouraging you to go out and spend $300 on fireworks, but lighting off a few Roman candles into the night sky would be the perfect way to end the evening.