A Toronto Gal Goes West For The Calgary Stampede

For the past week I’ve been sporting my cowboy boots, daisy dukes, and cowboy hat while running around Calgary for the Stampede. For a city girl, the Stampede can be quite a trip; from the animals everywhere to the cowboys who seem to line every corner, the whole experience was a little crazy and I kept wondering where I could find a salad in place of the steak and carnival food that became my staple for the week.

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn

What I didn’t know about the Stampede, though, was that the fashion would blow me away. Canadian designer Paul Hardy created the CS Mercantile Collection for the Calgary Stampede this year. The beautiful line brings together western fashion and modern flare and the result is a stunning collection that is as Canadian as it is couture. I love when urban and rural meet. My favourite summer look is my cowboy boots and a sundress, so for me Paul Hardy was the perfect designer to take on this particular design challenge.

On Sunday I managed to check out the rodeo, and while I learned that I can’t really watch a bucking bull without getting a little sad I was thoroughly impressed with the barrel racers. In barrel racing a rider does that: races around barrels in an attempt to achieve the fastest time. I loved this part of the rodeo because it gave me the opportunity to really see the connection between the rider and her horse – it’s beautiful and incredible to watch.

Photo Credit: Mike Ridewood

During my time in Calgary I spent almost every night at Nashville North or Cowboys. Both bars are on the Stampede grounds and offer a wild time filled with two-stepping, a rowdy house band, and a smell that one should never experience sober. I didn’t go for the drinks so much as the dancing. I love two-stepping and I love watching couples swinging and dipping as the music plays. When I dip, you dip, we all dip!

If you ever get the opportunity to leave Toronto for a couple of days and go embrace your country roots at the Calgary Stampede, I highly recommend it. Just make sure your liver is prepared and maybe don’t eat all of the red meat you’re offered – and avoid the deep fried Oreos… you only “think” you want those.

Will you be heading out west for the Calgary Stampede next year? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.

Shannon Hunter

Shannon is a twenty-something social media manager and freelance writer living and loving in Toronto. She's written about everything from relationships and dating to events and travel. Happiest when she's writing and within reach of a glass of red; Shan dreams of spending her days writing novels on a beach in Mexico.