Having friends, family and clients over for Stampede is a great way to bond in a fun way, unique to Calgary and its heritage It’s a costume party, where everybody has all the key element of the costume: Jeans, and all they need is a western (or just plaid) shirt and some cowboy boots.
The key to organizing a Stampede Party is its decoration: you should have a number of Western-themed decorations, including basics like barn boards, and bales of hay or straw, which you can often rent or buy, as well as accessorizing with riding tack (saddles, harnesses and bridles, hitches, wagons), cowboy paraphernalia, and Western art. Empire Yards DOES NOT sell or rent hay bales or straw bales
Incidentally, the barn boards are just the bark-surface wood stripped from trees in the milling process, and is usually waste wood. The bales come in two varieties (livestock grade, and fireproofed) depending on if you plan to use them for animals or in an enclosed space, and subject to the Calgary Fire Code. Don’t mix the two up, or you will either have a fire, or inadvertently poison animals.
You should also plan some entertainment. You can have a band (usually pricey during Stampede Week), a DJ, or just spin country music CDs from your stereo or MP3s from your computer though good-sized speakers. If planning a band or a DJ, you’ll need to book these a few months in advance. Set aside an area in the garden for dancing, and lay down some flooring, so your lawn doesn’t get trampled. It also a good idea to have some non-musical entertainment, like a Western photo booth, or some lasso/wrangling games for any kids or young-at-heart adults in your guest list.
After decorating, the next task is setting the menu. The easy choice is pancakes for a breakfast/morning event, and barbecue with beans for anything later. If doing pancakes, you may want to rent an electric or propane powered griddle, like they use for Stampede breakfasts around town, and are a lot more efficient (and consistent) than using frying pans on a stove. Barbecue can range from hot dogs & hamburgers up to steaks for individual servings, or cooking a large roast (beef, pork, or game like buffalo, elk or moose) and having someone slice portions to your guests.
Last but not least, are the beverage choices. Good party hosts should always have a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (unless, of course, its an all-kids party, in which case all non-alcoholic). For adults, beers are a good staple (of course, made-in Alberta brands by Big Rock are the preferred beers), but you can also have a punch bowl with a fruity mix, and either a champagne, vodka, tequila, or wine base. Give your concoction an “horrid” cowboy name, that gives the drink some cachet! For large events, you should consider a non-alcoholic punch (and have it clearly marked).
It should also be said, that if guests are drinking at a party, it is up to the host to ensure those that have had too much should not drive themselves home. Arrange taxis for guests, sleeping room in the guest bedroom, or have a designated driver chauffeur them home.
If your party is going late, its good to check with all your neighbours (in every direction, front and back), and make sure they don’t have issues or objections to your party, and set a reasonable end time for outdoor music. Inviting them to your party is good way to reduce third-party noise complaints.