The Best-Kept Secret on Stampede Park: The Calgary Stampede Art Show

Art, music, creative arts and crafts, food and photography combine to celebrate our Western heritage.

It’s both a surprise and a must-see for those who frequent Stampede Park during the 10-day exhibition. The Calgary Stampede Art Show — housed in the Western Oasis in the BMO Centre — is the best-kept secret on Stampede Park. Not only is it an air-conditioned escape on the grounds, it is truly a Stampede for the senses.

Nearly 200 artists, musicians, sculptors, photographers and even chefs come together to share their work in their respective mediums. The tranquil space is calm and cool, and encourages Stampede-goers to slow down and enjoy the beautiful artwork, meet and talk with the artists, and purchase works to take home. Many of the artists have participated for years and have a dedicated following. Some create new pieces to unveil at the show, and savvy collectors know that you need to get down to the show quickly or risk missing a coveted piece. 

Alongside the artists’ studios, the art gallery and Mini Masterpiece Salon Wall should not be missed. These areas allow new and emerging artists a chance to show and sell their work too. The pieces are all original and cover a wide range of styles and mediums.

Stampede guests who just need to take a rest often beeline to the Window on the West stage. Backed by a red barn, local musicians entertain throughout the day. The ever-changing list of performers means it’s a great spot to regularly circle back to.

Also located in the Oasis is the Western Photo Gallery and Photo Competition where photographers have made entries into several categories. They include Western Landscapes and Western Lifestyle & Architecture, and this year features a new creative category. Photographs are also available for sale in the gallery.

The historic Creative Arts & Crafts area was borne out of the tradition of displaying handiworks at the county fair. Showcasing the incredible talents of participants in a variety of artforms ranging from woodworking and sugar art to more traditional handicrafts such as knitting and embroidery, participants compete for cash prizes, bragging rights and in true Stampede style — the coveted red ribbon. And, make sure you look up! Displayed quilts hung up high are also a part of the competition. 

For fans of the culinary arts, the Kitchen Theatre will have a new home this year, in the lower level of the Big Four Building. The new location brings a bigger space, allowing for more demonstrations and the return of some of the ever-popular cooking competitions. 

All in all, the Western Oasis is the reprieve we need. It fills our senses with the stories of our collective past, and the amazing possibilities of where we can go. The colours, the sounds and the space offer a breath of fresh air, not just during Stampede, but for where any of us might be right now. 

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