2016 Best Food on the Midway winners: your eating guide for Final Sunday

Don’t forget to tag your food adventures with #Stampede2016 and #CSFoodie!

The Best BBQ on the Stampede Midway award went to Boss Hogs BBQ for their BBQ Pork Ribs. Perfect for sharing, they’ve won multiple awards across Canada for their take on this summer classic and now they’ve won in Calgary too. Check them out at the Triple B.

Best alternative eat for 2016: Crazy Cones for their Apple Pie Ice Cream Sandwich  Does vanilla ice cream smothered in apple pie filling and caramel sauce encased in a crispy cinnamon sugar crisp sound intriguing? Then you need to try the Apple Pie Ice Cream Sandwich by Crazy Cones. This cool, refreshing and lactose-free dish won Best Alternative Eat on the Stampede Midway. Find it just outside the Big Four Building.

Best Deep Fried 2016 goes to Canadian Beaver Balls Gourmet Doughnut Holes Stampede is a time to indulge and where the calories don’t count. That’s why you need to check out the Canadian Beaver Balls Gourmet Doughnut Holes booth which won Best Deep Fried on the Stampede Midway this year. Deep fried little dough balls are cooked to golden perfection with a variety of toppings, all for a reasonable price.

Best International Goes to Waffles & Chix for their Signature Dish: The Waffles & Chix! A fusion of Southern US tradition with some Canadian sophistication, Waffles & Chix’s signature dish combines southern fried chicken on a Belgian waffle with white gravy and maple syrup in a partnership that would make fans of the current bromance between the leaders of our two nations jealous (and hungry!). That’s why the “Waffles & Chix” won Best International on the Stampede Midway.

2016 Best food on a stick No Stampede Foodie adventure is complete without having something on a stick. From corn dogs to candy apples, foods on sticks are a Stampede staple. This year, the Frosted Flakes Chicken on a Stick by Chicken Tenders won Best Food on a Stick.

2016 Best sweet treat If you’re looking for something to wash down your Frosted Flakes chicken, try the Pineapple Whip Float from Summerland Soft Serve. This fat-free delight won Best Sweet Treat this year.

2016 Best pizza Ideas are like pizza dough: made to be tossed around. Know what else is a good idea? Hitting one of the Rick’s Pizza booths around Stampede Park and trying one of their slices. Derek Wiggan and Frank Beltre from the Calgary Stampeders helped our Midway food judges choose them as having the Best Pizza on the Stampede Midway.

Best Between Buns 2016 goes to R&R Bratwurst for their Bison Bratwurst R&R Bratwurst is a staple of the Stampede Midway. Located near the BMO Centre, all of their meat products are chemical and preservative free and are naturally smoked. Winner of Best International 2014, our Midway food judges for this year have awarded their Bison Bratwurst as the Best Between Buns 2016. Don’t forget the sauerkraut and onions!

Big T’s BBQ and Smokehouse wins Best Fair Fusion Some foods are so far out there that they boggle the mind. Others take established ideas but implement them with a twist. Best Fair Fusion goes to Big T’s BBQ and Smokehouse for their Smoked Chicken and Waffles dish, where instead of using the traditional Belgian-style waffle, their chicken is served in a freshly made waffle cone. With three choices of sauces, this is a savoury dish that you won’t want to miss.

Family Squeezed Lemonade is now a two-time Best Beverage winner! Winner of Best Beverage 2014 for their Mint Mojito, Family Squeezed does it again as they were voted as Best Beverage 2016, this time for their Cantaloupe Lemonade. A new food for Stampede 2016, this beverage features freshly pressed cantaloupe and lemons mixed with lemonade and a bit of sugar. It’s the perfect drink, period.

Best Value on the Stampede Midway goes to Wrap Daddy’s Winner of Best New Food in 2014 for their Spicy Thai Chicken Wrap, all of the wraps at Wrap Daddy’s are good value as they sport large portions that are ideal for sharing (or not, if you’re really hungry), and can all be made gluten free for a nominal fee. That’s why Wrap Daddy’s wraps were awarded Best Value on the Stampede Midway. Be sure to try their Vegetarian Wrap, which features a meatless protein that can fool any carnivores out there.

Reggie’ll Try It: Bang for Your Buck

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Determining what’s good bang-for-your-buck is always difficult, no matter what the discipline. Do you look solely at price, or do you also give consideration to other factors such as quality, amount of product received or ease of use?

One of my favourite places on Park during Stampede time is Weadickville, especially the Weston Bakery. Their $2.50 sausage rolls as well as 2 for $2 cheese sticks and various pepperoni sticks have gotten me through many a Stampede. You can also find $2 waters in Weadickville as well as $2 Frosters from Mac’s. For under $5, you can have yourself a very satisfying lunch. To me, that’s good value.

There’s also value to be had out on the Midway, although with the sheer number of items sold out there, it’s sometimes hard to find the true gems. For today’s #CSFoodie challenge, we were tasked with finding the Best Value on the Midway and were instructed to sample 9-10 items that might fit the bill, many of them previous contenders for various categories this year. The Fried Chicken Poutine from Waffles and Chix ended up walking away with the honours, but what about the rest?

Because good value is subjective, the series of reviews in this edition of Reggie’ll Try It! will be a bit different. Instead of rating the food, I’ll just offer my opinions on why these foods may offer a good bang-for-your-buck and leave it up to you whether or not you agree. Either way, I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments!

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Fried Chicken Poutine by Waffles and Chix (Near the Agrium Western Events Centre)

Waffles and Chix’s Fried Chicken Poutine already earned one honour this year from our CS Foodie group: Best Deep Fried.

After trying it for myself, it’s easy to see why. Fresh cut fries, Alberta cheese, Southern fried chicken with white gravy and maple syrup all combine to create a flavourful Albertan take on an Eastern Canada favourite.

But why did it win again for Best Value? After all, at $10, it’s not exactly the cheapest option on the Midway. Well, for those ten bucks, you get A LOT of food. The portion is generous and it can easily feed 2-4 people. It’s easy to share with a bunch of extra forks (just ask the vendor; they’d be happy to supply them) and in fact, I did just that with random strangers today as I was wandering around the Midway trying to complete today’s objective, asking all of them for their opinions.

Everyone who sampled it during my adventures agreed that it tasted great and that the quality of the product was well worth the $10. And if you split it between 2-4 friends, it essentially brings the cost down to $2.50-5.00 per person, which isn’t bad.

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Shiekh Pizza by Avatara Pizza (Near Nashville North)

There are many options for pizza on the midway, but Avatara Pizza is one of the few places that you can get an entirely gluten free pizza, as well as pizza made with other food sensitivities in mind (they have lactose free, dairy free and vegetarian/vegan options).

Made with 100% organic ingredients, their products are super-healthy for you and come in half or full sizes (11 inches). Because it’s pre-sliced, it’s super easy to share with others as well.

The Shiekh pizza is made with hummus, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, feta cheese, banana peppers, parsley and fresh uncooked tomatoes. For this taste test, my friends and I went with the gluten free option. Flavourful and spicy, it’s a non-meat option for discerning palettes.

Prices vary depending on the size and product, although it’s important to note that the gluten free option costs an extra $2 and is only available in the full-sized option, which is something that needs to be considered before purchasing if you decide to go with one of those options.

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SaltSpring Noodle Bar Small Noodle Box by SaltSpring Noodle Bar (Near the BMO Centre)

Don’t be deceived: Even though we looked at SaltSpring’s small noodle box for this round, you do get a lot of noodles with it and this is a meal that can definitely fill you up. In fact, a few of us were asked to sample their offerings multiple times this week (Best International and Best Alternative Choice), and some of those who began their judging with an item from here first found it difficult to complete the rest of the day’s objectives as they’d start the day off full. 

Available in a variety of flavours (pictured above is the Malaysian Peanut, which combines their tasty satay sauce with peanuts and coconut milk), this dish is also one of the best gluten free options you can get on Park, as they are prepared separately to avoid contamination. Also, with SaltSpring, going with the gluten free option does not cost you any extra. That said, only some flavours are gluten free, so make sure you enquire or notify them in advance if that’s what you’re looking for so they can guide you to make the proper choices.

There’s enough to share with some extra forks or chopsticks (help yourselves as the utensils are displayed at the front of the booth), although the ease of shareability is somewhat compromised due to the small size of the container (have napkins available, just in case).

The small sized noodle box retails for $8 and the large for $10.

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Chicken Schnitzel by R&R (Near the BMO Centre and Coca-Cola Stage)

A staple out on the Midway, the Chicken Schnitzel booth has been around for as long as I can remember.

A seasoned five ounce natural chicken breast is tenderized, breaded and deep fried and then placed on a freshly baked kaiser bun with lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise.

Having sampled it during the quest for Best International, I called it a chicken burger on steroids and I still stand by that statement.

At $7, I consider it one of the cheaper entrees on the midway, as it’s priced competitively against some of the other burgers, sandwiches and wraps available on Park. It’s enough for a meal on its own, and while there’s enough of it to share with friends, it is a little difficult to do so without a knife or other cutting utility, unless you’re all willing to bite off the same piece.

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Deep Fried Pie by Think Sweet Deep Fried Pies (In front of the Big Four Building)

This one won Best Sweet Treat this year, and after trying it myself, it’s easy to see why. Pie crust is stuffed with your choice from a variety of pie fillings (depicted above is blueberry). Deep fried and topped with cinnamon sugar, you have the option of adding soft serve vanilla ice cream on the side.

The portion is large and in my opinion it can be considered a meal on its own. Grab some extra forks, and it’s a dessert that many can enjoy.

The pie itself costs $7 and the optional soft serve ice cream is an extra $2 (bringing it to $9 total if you decide to go that route).

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Deep Fried Philly Cheesesteak by Pickle Petes (Near the Stampede Corral)

It’s a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich with all the traditional fixings such as cream cheese and onions, all deep fried (naturally). It was a contender for Best Deep Fried this year too.

Tender, moist and flavourful, this is a sufficient meal for one person. It was popular when I ordered it, and I had to wait about 10 minutes to receive mine.

At $7, again, it’s one of those entrees that’s priced competitively against other items on the Midway. And while the portion seems small at first glance, you do get A LOT of meat. That said, this one is a little harder to share with others without a knife; forks don’t cut it (literally). 

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Dole Pineapple Whip from Frozen Desserts (Multiple kiosks around Park)

A contender this year for Best Sweet Treat, the Pineapple Whip is another staple on the Midway. Cool, sweet and refreshing, this dessert is fat free. It melts on your tongue and is quite addicting.

It’s available at multiple kiosks on Park and at $4 for a cone or $5 for a cup, it’s priced competitively against some of the other desserts on the Midway, frozen or not. The cup option is easier to share with others using another set of spoons and you do get a lot of the product for the price. It’s my favourite dessert on the Midway next to the mini donuts, and I always make sure to have at least one of these every year.

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Mac and Cheese Wedges by the Bulls-Eye Cookshack (Near Nashville North)

I once had a friend who used to work a part-time job at the Stampede during high school, and she’d always make it a point to have the deep fried mac and cheese wedges for breakfast every day she was on duty. She swore by them, and it was one of her Midway favourites.

Another previous contender for Best Deep Fried this year, it’s a simple dish. They’re bite-sized macaroni and cheese wedges dipped in batter and deep fried. Make no mistake though, the cheesy flavour of the mac and cheese shines through, and it instantly invokes the same feelings of comfort you may have had when eating regular mac and cheese at home as a child growing up.

At $5, you get a lot of portions, and it being finger food, makes it easy to share with others. This was my personal favourite for Best Value out of all the items on this list.

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Wrap Daddy’s Wrap by Wrap Daddy’s (In front of the Big Four Building)

Their gluten free chicken wrap won Best Alternative Choice this year, although the vendor also offers beef and vegetarian options as well. Depicted above is the gluten free beef wrap.

At $10 per wrap, it’s a sizeable portion no matter which option you go with, and the fillings can easily be shared with others using forks (the tortilla on the other hand, a bit more difficult).

The gluten free variants use a different tortilla as well as minor substitutions for some of the other ingredients. That said, each wrap is made to order, so you know you’re not getting anything that’s been sitting under a heat lamp for a while.

Also, it’s important to note that the gluten free option costs an extra $1 as it isn’t easily displayed on the menu.

Reggie’ll Try It: Cool Refreshments!

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Right now, the long range forecast for the rest of Stampede 101 reads nothing but warm temperatures and sunny skies (knock on wood!). That means it’ll get hot down on Park, so what better way to beat the heat than with some cool refreshment from the Stampede Midway?

Today’s #CSFoodie challenge was to find the Best Refreshment on Park. Sugar Creek Kettle Corn Co. won it for their Lemonade Shake Up, but what else can be found on the Midway? Here are my thoughts on some of the things we were asked to look at in this edition of Reggie’ll Try It!

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Fresh Squeezed Lemonade by Fresh Roasted Corn (Across from Nashville North)

The first beverage I tried was this version of fresh squeezed lemonade. True to its name, this drink was made from a freshly squeezed lemon with water, ice and sugar, and a lemon slice included for good measure. It was tart but not overly so, and there were some undissolved sugar granules at the bottom of my cup. Refreshing and exactly what I was expecting from something akin to homemade lemonade.

My verdict:  Four out of five flapjacks.

02-IcedTea

Fresh Brewed Iced Tea by Ice Tea Hut (Near Erlton Gate)

I was privileged to be able to visit Boston last summer for a vacation, and they take their teas down there very seriously. I thought I knew iced tea, but that trip showed me just how naive I was.

So I was excited to be given the opportunity to sample some brewed iced tea here at the Stampede. Each iced tea serving from this vendor comes with a lemon slice as well as a tea bag. According to the vendor, the flavour increases the longer you walk around on Park due to the tea bag, and I was certainly able to taste the difference as I nursed it along on my adventures today. Unfortunately, the majority of the drink’s initial base is made with iced tea mix, so it’s not quite a 100% brewed iced tea.

I still liked it though, so four out of five flapjacks from me.

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Slushie by CandyTime (In front of the Agrium Wester Event Centre)

This one is mainly for the kids. It comes in two flavours: Red Cherry and Blue Raspberry. It’s the same kind of flavouring that you’ll find in some children’s hard candy as well as in cotton candy. I got the Blue Raspberry for this review, but no matter what flavour you get, you’re guaranteed to have a coloured tongue because of it.

I like to consider myself a bit of a slushie connoisseur (those things got me through college) so I was anxious to try this when I saw it on my list. Unfortunately, my sample was a bit crunchy, as the ice granules were quite large. So instead of being able to sip it leisurely, it was more of a slurp, crunch, chew and swallow. Based on experience though, it could have been the batch, but based on what I had today, I’d give it three flapjacks out of five. That said, I guarantee you that the kids wouldn’t mind. Flavourful and sweet, it will beat the heat.

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Pomegranate Passion by Booster Juice (Near the Sling Shot)

Booster Juice is a personal favourite of mine, and is an excellent alternative when looking for healthy drinks on Park. They have a variety of drink options all made with natural ingredients.

I had the Pomegranate Passion (snack size shown), which is made out of pomegranate, strawberries, raspberries and vanilla frozen yogurt.

It was a bit tart, and for a guy like me who has a sweet tooth, it’s hard for me to drink a lot of it at a time. But for those people who love tart and sour, it’ll probably hit the spot. And it’s super healthy for you too.

Verdict:  Four out of five flapjacks.

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Fresh Squeezed Lemonade by Lemon Heaven (All over Park)

Another lemonade that’s freshly squeezed, Lemon Heaven’s version allows for some variety as you have the option to add various flavour shots to your lemonade. You can stick with the classic original lemon flavour, or you can get cherry, lime or iced tea flavours added to it. There is also a diabetic-friendly option available on request.

Each drink comes with the lemonade, plenty of ice and a lemon slice. It certainly hits the spot and you will feel refreshed after drinking it.

I chose to go with the classic lemonade and it was the perfect combination of water, lemons and sugar. Not too tart and not too sweet, but you could still appreciate all the citrus-y goodness from the lemons. Five out of five flapjacks.

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State Fair Lemonade by the Double Bacon Corn Dog booth (Near the Bell Aqua Ranch)

Yet another lemonade variety that you can find on Park, this one is also fresh squeezed and includes a lemon slice along with plenty of ice. Make no mistake though: You visit this booth for the Double Bacon Corn Dog. However, this beverage would make the perfect complement.

Subjectively, there wasn’t much to make this one stand out from all the other lemonades, but it gets the job done. I liked it, so four out of five flapjacks.

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Raspberry Iced Tea by Cheyenne Coffee Co. (In front of the BMO Centre)

Iced tea from a coffee company? You bet! And what’s more: This one is 100% brewed. You can taste that heavy tea flavour and texture with every sip.

You can get it plain or with a shot of raspberry syrup, which is what I did. Like an iced Italian soda, the syrup is pumped into the bottom of the cup and the tea poured over top of it along with plenty of ice. It’s up to you if you want to mix it up or not; I prefer to leave it alone as I like to enjoy the super-sweet flavour of the syrup on first sip.

If you’re a fan of brewed iced tea, this baby’s authentic and you will feel refreshed. Five out of five flapjacks.

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Fruit Shakes by Fruit Shakes (In front of the BMO Centre)

Made with hunks of fruit and lots of ice, this is an all natural fruit shake with no artificial flavourings or additions. You can get a Berry Blast (strawberries with blueberry, blackberry and strawberry puree, banana and ice), Mango Mania (mangos and mango puree, banana and ice), Caribbean Coloda (mangos with pineapple and coconut puree, banana and ice) and Extreme Peach (peaches, mangos with peach puree, banana and ice).

I went with the Mango Mania, and you could certainly taste the mangos. The portion was large, and it’ll definitely cool you down. Great value too.

Five out of five flapjacks.

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Ice Slush by Slush Zone (In front of the BMO Centre)

Unlike the other slushie drink above, this vendor offers a variety of soda flavoured ice drinks akin to the kind that you’d find at your local convenience store.

Mainly Coca-Cola flavours, this vendor is the only place I’ve ever seen in Calgary with a ice slush tap containing Cherry Coca-Cola. For that alone, it makes this booth worth a visit.

I ended up with a Sprite/Cherry Coca-Cola mix, and I have to say, this vendor managed to hit that perfect balance between carbonation, syrup and ice concentration. No heavy ice granules here. No, each sip was smooth as silk and each hit of this icy concoction would melt and dissolve as soon as it hit my tongue. It’s rare to come across ice slush perfection in this city (only a few places do it right, and if you ever manage to stumble upon such a place, make sure to bookmark it), and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this vendor has managed to nail it.

Five out of five flapjacks, and a bonus piece of sausage for having a water mister at the booth as well. Doubly refreshing, especially on a hot summer day.

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Strawberry Lemonade by Rick’s Elephant Ears and Funnel Cakes (In front of the BMO Centre)

There are at least two Elephant Ear booths on Park, but only one of them serves lemonade and that’s Rick’s. The lemonade here is also fresh squeezed, but its claim to fame is the Strawberry flavouring that you can get with it.

Mine was a little heavy on the syrup, so it was sweeter than some of the other lemonades I had to sample today. But me having a sweet tooth, I didn’t mind one bit.

Topped with ice and a lemon slice, it’s the perfect pick-me-up on a hot day. Five out of five flapjacks.

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Lemonade Shake Up by Sugar Creek Kettle Corn Co. (Near the Kids Midway)

The last lemonade drink of the day was the Lemonade Shake Up by Sugar Creek Kettle Corn Co. This lemonade is shaken (not stirred) with your choice of flavouring. What’s more is that it’s made with all natural ingredients and real crushed fruit.

I chose the Saskatoon variant (made with Saskatoon berries), and you can taste the difference in quality. Whereas some of the flavourings from other vendors are sweet and admittedly artificial tasting, you could immediately tell that the sweetening and flavouring in this one is based on real fruit. Great value as well.

I absolutely loved it and want to come back to sample the rest of the flavours. An enthusiastic five out of five flapjacks from me.

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Root Beer by Big Barrel Root Beer (All over Park)

Last but definitely not least is a staple at Stampede. I’m talking about the Root Beer.

Served at many locations on Park, at $2 for the small size, it’s one of the best values on Park outside of Weadickville. Ice cold and refreshing, it’ll definitely hit the spot.

I love root beer and order it any chance I get, so five out of five flapjacks from me.


And that’s it for this edition of Reggie’ll Try It! There are many other options for cool refreshment on Park, and even the options above come in many different flavours and varieties. Lots of choice out there and preferences and tastes vary among each person, so I’m interested in hearing what your favourites are. Feel free to sound off in the comments!

Reggie’ll Try It: Alternative Choices!

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We all know that those who wish to be considered true Stampede Foodies must abandon all fear, shame and hope to fit into last week’s pants if they are to survive the delicious temptations out on the Stampede Midway.

And while it’s true that there are many savoury, succulent and sugar-filled treats out there, did you know that there are also many healthier options as well? Items that are tailored for those who may have food sensitivities or just want to try a lifestyle change with their diets? Things that are not necessarily deep-fried? Shocking, I know.

Today’s #CSFoodie challenge was to find the Best Alternative Choice on the Stampede Midway, and we had to eat our way through a few of the non-traditional (for lack of a better term) options out on the grounds. Wrap Daddy’s ended up taking the official honours for their Gluten Free Chicken Wrap, but what about the other items? Here are my thoughts on some of the things we were asked to sample in this edition of Reggie’ll Try It!

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Gluten Free Vegetarian Pad Thai by SelfSpring Noodle Bar (Across from the BMO Centre)

In general, SelfSpring Noodle Bar offers rice or wheat noodles with your choice of sauce. Their Pad Thai sauce is gluten free and can be made with gluten free noodles, which is all prepared in a separate wok to avoid contamination.

I had the Vegetarian Pad Thai with the gluten free option, and I have to admit, it was a very filling dish (and I just had the small size). Rather than chicken (which is what I’d normally get), there were lots of carrots and broccoli pieces instead. It’s spicy though (and I passed on the extra hot sauce too), so if that’s not typically your thing, then proceed with caution.

My verdict: Four out of five flapjacks.

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Gluten Free Majnon Layla from Avatara Pizza (Near Nashville North)

Fire-roasted organic falafel chips with hummus, bruschetta and parsley. It’s not a pizza, but it does make for a nice, light snack. Perfect for sharing on a hot day, it comes in half or full sizes. And it’s all gluten free.

It’s simple food although it may not be enough to fill you up if you’re famished. A solid three out of five flapjacks from me.

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The Veggie Burger from the Stampede Concessions Booths (In the BMO Centre)

Whenever someone says “concession booth” to me, I flashback to junior high school where we didn’t have a proper cafeteria and instead had a small room that served students anything that could be stuck and heated in a toaster oven.

Stampede Concessions, on the other hand, is an entirely different beast that serves a variety of different foods all year round at various events on Park, all of them tasty and reasonably priced.

The Veggie Burger is quite filling. Lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, red onions, mayonnaise and a vegetable patty come standard on this one, and not being a regular connoisseur of veggie burgers myself, I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this. In fact, I wanted to order another!

Verdict:  Four out of five flapjacks.

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Gluten Free Steak and Salad by Steak Hut (Next to Nashville North)

This wasn’t on Steak Hut’s standard menu, but if you ask nicely, they will serve you a steak and salad, which is completely gluten free. The steak itself is tenderized and seasoned to perfection. That charbroiled steak is served fresh off an open grill and tastes wonderful, complemented well by the cool garden salad.

The above picture literally shows a steak on a salad, but after the photo opportunity, the grill master offered to cut it up. He mentioned that they’ve had discussions on whether or not to make it a standard option, and it’s still up for debate.

Be warned that since this isn’t a standard menu item (yet), you’ll end up paying a little bit extra for it.

I loved it and it earned four out of five flapjacks from me.

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Falafel by NC’s Gourmet Grill (Near the Rotary Dream Home and Nashville North)

Made with seasoned chick pea patties, vegetables, tahini-based sauce and served on a pita, it’s a falafel no matter how you look at it. Served hot and fresh, the portion is hearty and can easily feed one person. A great vegetarian option for those looking for some on Park.

A solid three out of five flapjacks from me.

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Gluten Free Chicken Wrap by Wrap Daddy’s (Near the Big Four Building and Coca-Cola Stage)

Served in a flour tortilla cone with chicken bits, various vegetables and with optional sour creme and fried cheese, this food item has a gluten free option. You can try to devour it all in one go by folding it into itself, but it’s recommended you eat it with the provided fork first. It’s hearty and good enough as a meal on its own.

The fried cheese really makes this dish, as it reminded me of the crusted cheese on top of my mom’s oven-baked lasagna, which was my favourite part.

There’s a lot of drippings with this one, so napkins are highly recommended.

Also note that the gluten free option costs an extra buck.

Five out of five flapjacks.

Vegetarian Wrap by Wrap Daddy’s (Near the Big Four Building and Coca-Cola Stage)

Also by Wrap Daddy’s, the Vegetarian Wrap substitutes the chicken bits from its sibling above with some kind of protein-based meat alternative. In fact, as I had ordered both the chicken and the vegetarian wraps at the same time, I thought they accidentally mixed some chicken bits into this one and became worried for some of my vegetarian friends to whom I really wanted to recommend this to. It tasted too good to be true!

The taste and texture of the “meat” resembled pork or chicken so much that my meat-eater’s heart became quite confused. And conflicted! That said, if human technology has progressed to the point where even this omnivore can’t tell the difference, then I suppose I could be persuaded to try being a vegetarian for a little while myself, as long I was able to continue eating things such as this.

Again, this one can get messy with drippings so make sure to have some napkins available.

A hearty five out of five flapjacks from me.


And there you have it. While it was the Chicken Wrap that won it for Wrap Daddy’s, I would have still been happy if the Vegetarian Wrap had come out on top. Which just goes to show you how solid a menu Wrap Daddy’s has.

This was just a small selection of some of the alternative food choices that are available on Park. There are many, many other options out there that are suitable for those who are lactose intolerant, require diets with reduced sugar, or have other food sensitivities, so give some of them a try the next time you come to visit! If in doubt, make sure to ask your food vendor about the ingredients they use in their offerings and their food preparation methods. They’ll be happy to share and they encourage it.

And if you want to be completely safe, did you know that you can bring your own food to Stampede Park? There’s plenty of green space to enjoy a picnic lunch outdoors (my favourite spots are those near the river banks), and all of the venues on Park like the Stampede Corral, Big Four Building and Grandstand Building allow you to bring your own food to munch on during events (many of them free with admission). Everyone wants to ensure that you have an enjoyable, and most importantly, safe stay during your visit to Stampede.

Reggie’ll Try It: International Flavour Edition!

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For Stampede 101, I’m privileged to be chosen as one of this year’s volunteer Midway Food Judges. As a group, we’re responsible for choosing the “Best” foods out of specific categories from what’s available on the Stampede Midway.

Today, we were tasked with determining “Best International Flavour” for 2013. The Naaco TNT by The Naaco Truck ended up winning the honours this year, but how did the other food fair?

Fellow Stampede blogger Sky’s posted a great recap, but did I agree with the verdict? Disagree? Submitted for your consideration are my thoughts on the matter in this special edition of Reggie’ll Try It! where I put my life on the line so you don’t have to!


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Burrito Grande by Foods of Mexico (In front of the Stampede Corral)

It’s a burrito. Stampede 101 style. Loaded with beef and cheese, it’s everything you could ever want from this Mexican classic. You can choose to top it off with lettuce, tomato, onions and hot jalapeños. It’s filling enough on its own (it is grande size), but I wouldn’t recommend eating a whole one if you have seven other items to eat through like I did.

A solid three out of five flapjacks from me.

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Malaysian Peanut Chicken Noodle Box by SaltSpring Noodle Bar (Across from the BMO Centre)

Soft, chewy and warm, this rice noodle box is perfect for a cold day on Park. Cooked in water and not oil, this dish features their tasty satay sauce with peanuts and coconut milk, which complements each other nicely. It comes in small and large sizes, although for me, the small was filling enough.

My verdict: Four out of five flapjacks.

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Chicken Schnitzel by Chicken Schnitzel (Near the Coca-Cola Stage)

A classic at the Stampede, the Chicken Schnitzel booth has been there for as long as I can remember (and as a born-and-raised Calgarian, that’s a long time!). I’ve never tried it myself though, so I was super excited it was on my list of things to eat.

Boneless chicken thinned with a hammer, coated with flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs, fried all together and sandwiched inside a freshly baked kaiser bun with lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise, this is like a traditional chicken burger on steroids.

Very filling and great value for the price. A solid four out of five flapjacks.

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Chicken Souvlaki on Pita by Greek Food (In front of the Stampede Corral)

Warm, moist and tender chicken pieces make this dish, with a cool dollop of tzatziki sauce on top for good measure. Served in a pita with lettuce, tomato and onions. For those with sensitive palettes, this dish is perfect, as the chicken isn’t overpowering at all.

TIP:  Like most typical wraps, this one can get messy with drippings so napkins are highly recommended.

Four out of five flapjacks.

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Flautas by Los Compadres (Behind the Bell Aqua Ranch)

Pulled pork wrapped in a flour tortilla and deep fried and served on a bed of lettuce and cheese. Biting into one is like a thirsty person in the dessert who happens upon a bright red, juicy cherry tomato and decides to devour it whole. The explosion of juices is flavourful and exquisite, balanced well with the crispy texture of the tortilla. If I could eat nothing but this dish all day, I’d have no complaints.

Five out of five flapjacks for this one.

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Lamb Donair by Skewers Authentic Wraps (In front of the Stampede Corral)

Chunks of seasoned lamb with onions, lettuce and tomato served on a pita. I love donairs, although this one was missing the sweet sauce for some reason. I did find the lamb a bit overpowering though in terms of seasoning, but it will satisfy if you’re looking for something to fill the gap in between the Rodeo and the Evening Show.

This one rates a three out of five flapjacks from me, but I reserve final judgement upon trying it again another day.

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Sesame Chicken Noodle Box by Wok This Way (By the Erlton Gate)

By the time I got to this one on the list, I was feeling stuffed and had to recruit a friend to help me finish it.

This was a weird one. We both agreed that while the noodles balanced the flavourful chunks of breaded and fried sesame chicken well, there wasn’t anything spectacular about this dish that jumped out at us, and we quickly moved onto the remaining dishes. But as we both went back to work and I was compiling my final thoughts on today’s experiences, we both polished this one off without noticing, even though it was already cold (and I had already polished off five full dishes already on my own).

What does that mean? I’m still not sure. But the fact that we finished off this one so late in the day despite a full day’s worth of eating on my end earns it a solid four out of five flapjacks from me. Like a ninja, this one sneaks up on you!

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Naaco TNT by The Naaco Truck (Behind the Bell Aqua Ranch)

Cool, crisp, crunchy, sweet and spicy. Served in a faux-newspaper cone that invokes fond memories from my youth, this is a colourful cornucopia that excites the tastebuds and delights the palette.

Made with crispy noodles, puffed rice, tomatoes, cucumbers and a variety of other vegetables, sauces, spices and herbs, this is the perfect dish for a hot summer day.

TIP: This one can also dribble a bit at the bottom of the cone with drippings, so make sure to have some napkins handy.

A solid, well deserved five out of five flapjacks from me.

And there you have it! In this case, I did agree with the Naaco TNT walking away with this year’s honour of being chosen “Best International Flavour,” but for me, it was a tie between it and Los Compadres’ Flautas for the top prize, and I would have been happy with either of them winning today.

Congrats to all the competitors this year and tune in tomorrow as we’ll be looking at “Best Alternative Food Option!”

My experiences working at a Reception Centre during the first 24 hours

Receiving a briefing from CEMA at the Village Square Leisure Centre Reception Centre
Receiving a briefing from CEMA at the Village Square Leisure Centre Reception Centre

Last Thursday evening, after hearing about all the craziness happening with the river, I did my best to secure equipment at my basement office downtown, moving things to higher ground within the building and helping others to do so as well.

Being a transit user, I wanted to get out of the downtown core as quickly as I could because I didn’t want to get stranded.

I got home at around 8:30 p.m. and was looking forward to bunkering down and waiting out the storm, not knowing what to expect from it at that point.

At about 10 p.m. just as I was getting ready for bed, I received an email from Stampede Volunteer Services asking for 120 volunteers to help work at the various Reception Centres around town in eight hour shifts for the next 72 hours. The first shift was slated to be from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Not having a car and because some of the locations were remote from where I was located, I replied by saying that I’d take any shifts that were available starting the next day. I figured I’d have enough time to plan my route to wherever I would be sent, and an opportunity to rest up for what was looking to be a long day of volunteering.

Then 20 minutes later, I received an email from my committee chair with an urgent request for volunteers at the Reception Centre located at Centre Street Church, which was in the same quadrant as myself (though just barely).

Now fully appreciating the urgent nature of the emergency, I threw on whatever clothes I could find, hopped on my bike and peddled my way there. I had never been to the Centre Street Church before, and so after a couple of wrong turns, I arrived at around 11:45 p.m.

Bonnie trains us in processing evacuees at the Centre Street Church Reception Centre
Bonnie trains us in processing evacuees at the Centre Street Church Reception Centre

I was quickly introduced to Bonnie, who was responsible for training new volunteers on behalf of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA). Our job was to process evacuees who were checking into the Centre.

The purpose was two-fold. First, register them so that if loved ones were searching for them later on, the city and the Red Cross would know where they were and could tell them. Second was to find accommodations for those who were displaced and had nowhere else to go.

The view at 2 a.m. during Night One at the Centre Street Reception Centre
The view at 2 a.m. during Night One at the Centre Street Reception Centre

As the night went on, I learned many things. Many of the city workers who were manning the Reception Centre had already been pulling 8-12 hour shifts there, so the Stampede volunteers were welcome relief. The City folks who arrived early to prepare the venue would be able to go home, take a shower and get some rest before they had to come back and do it all again.

I also learned that our city and our government take care of its citizens. Many people had left their homes with little notice and only with what they could carry. Accomodations were found for anyone who needed somewhere to stay for the duration of the evacuation. They were fed and given vouchers to ensure that they wouldn’t go hungry while the city was under a State of Emergency.

We helped Calgarians of all sorts that night. Those who were well off and those who were not, we didn’t turn away a single soul. We even helped a family of six who were visiting from Quebec and were scheduled to stay at a hotel in an evacuation zone. They had no family here and had nowhere else to go, but we found them a place to stay and ensured that they were taken care of.

The view at 5 a.m. during Night One at the Centre Street Reception Centre
The view at 5 a.m. during Night One at the Centre Street Reception Centre

My shift was supposed to end at 6 a.m. but we were allowed to leave an hour early as we had managed to process everyone who came in that night.

When I arrived home, I found that I couldn’t sleep so I emailed Stampede Volunteer Services asking if any other shifts were available. I ended up assigned at the Village Square Leisure Centre Reception Centre for 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. that same day. I made myself lunch and peddled my way there to do it all over again.

When I emailed again the next day asking for any other shifts, I was told that they were all full, which isn’t surprising considering this is Calgary. So I’ve been spending the last few days wandering around the Inglewood and Mission areas helping people clean out their homes and rebuild. I figure it’s the least I can do since my home is completely safe.

As I await the call to help out on Park to deliver Stampede 101, I can’t help but feel proud that I live in the city that I do.

It was working the graveyard shift that first night and speaking with a wide variety of people there where I gained a great appreciation for the city I live in and the citizens who live in it.

We take care of our own, we take care of the people who visit our great city, and Western Hospitality isn’t just a buzzword or exclusive to those in the Stampede family.

No, Western Hospitality is at the core and fibre of our beings as Calgarians.

Reggie’s Survival Guide to Stampede Park – Advice from a volunteer

With the Centennial officially kicking off tomorrow, all signs point to this being an epic Calgary Stampede.

Loyal Stampede Blog readers know that in previous years, I’ve tried to point out cool or different things to check out on Park.  This year, with so many interesting things going on, it’d take forever to give them all justice, so I figured what I’d do instead is share five tips and tricks I’ve picked up over my six years (and counting!) as a Stampede Volunteer that help make the time I spend on Park even more pleasurable. 

So here we go!

  1. Plan ahead.  There is so much to see and do on Park (and a lot of it is free with admission!), that in my experience, it takes multiple trips just to see it all.  Intelligence is your friend and knowing what to do in advance can ensure you make the most of your time during your stay.  Luckily, there’s a nifty online planner that has everything you need to know about what’s happening on Park.  There are even mobile versions for iOS, Android and Blackberry so you’ll always have that info on hand.
  2. Bring a water bottle.  It can get pretty hot on Park.  It’s important to stay hydrated, and a water bottle can help with that.
  3. Bring a snack.  If you’re planning to spend long hours on Park, you’re going to get hungry.  When the hunger pangs hit and your favourite food vendor is on the other end of the Park, you may not last the trip it’ll take to get there.  So bring a candy bar, a sandwich or something to snack on.  If you have food sensitivities, this is doubly important.  While it’s true that there’s a lot more choice this year when it comes to gluten-free, low sugar and other health conscious foods, if you want to be completely safe, bring your own.  In fact, did you know that you can bring your own food to all the event venues on Park?  It’s a great way to save some money while enjoying some world class entertainment.
  4. Bring some sunscreen. And an umbrella.  Weather is wacky here in Calgary so you need to be prepared for all extremes.  It could be completely sunny one moment, then raining cats and Superdogs the next.  Be prepared.  No one likes being stuck indoors forced to hide from the elements.
  5. Relax.  Sometimes the lineups, the hustle and bustle of so many people milling around, or other factors can drain away some of the enjoyment to be had on Park.  So make sure you schedule time in your day to rest.  If you like the outdoors, there’s plenty of green space on Park.  My favourite is picnicking in the Indian Village.  There’s lots of grass, plenty of space, it’s near the river and there’s usually something entertaining going on during the day.  If air conditioning is more your thing, check out the Western Oasis in the BMO Centre.  Both of these places are great to enjoy that snack and water bottle you brought earlier too.

So there’s my five and I hope you’ll find them helpful.  I’m sure some of my fellow Stampede Bloggers also have some tips and tricks of their own on how they get the most enjoyment out of their trip to the Stampede, and perhaps you’ll read about them here.

But I’m curious:  What advice have you picked up over the years?  Feel free to share them in the comments.  I’d love to hear them!

What’s Happening at Stampede Park: May 21 – 27

Thousands of runners and walkers of all levels in the city are getting set for the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon as it blazes through Stampede Park this week.

Details on that and more here:

  • Scotiabank Calgary Marathon:  Lace up your shoes and join thousands of other runners and walkers for the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon Race Weekend on May 25-27, 2012.  The Scotiabank Calgary Marathon is a challenging, competitive and fun event with a race designed for everyone of any level. Events include the Scotiabank Marathon, Centaur Subaru half marathon, Jugo Juice 10K, AstraZeneca 5K Walk and Run and Scotiabank Kids Marathon.  Stampede Park is the new start and finish venue and for more information, see here.
  • Cultural Nite XIX: The Untold Tales of a Pinoy Culture Club:  The University of Calgary’s Filipino Student’s Association invite you to watch Cultural Nite XIX: The Untold Tales of a Pinoy Culture Club.  This annual student-led theatre production showcases different Filipino folk dances such as Tinikling and Singkil, incorporated in a play written by the club’s own members.  May 26 at 7 p.m. in the Boyce Theatre.  For more information about tickets, see here.

Only 45 days to go until the Calgary Stampede’s centennial!  With festivities and other celebrations happening all over the place throughout the year to help celebrate 100 years of the Calgary Stampede, make sure to sign up to become a Stampede Insider for first-access to exclusive news, contests and other insider information, and be sure to keep an eye on our official Twitter account at @calgarystampede and our official Facebook fan page for giveaways, special announcements, and more! Finally, visit our website and continue to tune into the official Stampede Blog to learn more about all of the things happening here on Park and beyond!

Finally, make sure you check out this week’s Four Corners – presented by BURNCO event happening on Saturday, May 26.  This week, we’ll be at Cardell Place at 11950 Country Village Link NE.  Running from 9 a.m. to noon, there’ll be pancake breakfasts, demonstrations, special activities and more.  With an old-time community fair and interactive games for the kids, it’s like a mini-Stampede festival in your backyard!

What’s Happening at Stampede Park: May 14 – 20

Leading the charge this week at Stampede Park is Nickelback as they hit Calgary on their first North American tour in two years!

Details on that and more here:

Only 52 days to go until the Calgary Stampede’s centennial!  With festivities and other celebrations happening all over the place throughout the year to help celebrate 100 years of the Calgary Stampede, make sure to sign up to become a Stampede Insider for first-access to exclusive news, contests and other insider information, and be sure to keep an eye on our official Twitter account at @calgarystampede and our official Facebook fan page for giveaways, special announcements, and more! Finally, visit our website and continue to tune into the official Stampede Blog to learn more about all of the things happening here on Park and beyond!

Calgary is a Sweet City indeed!

2012 is a milestone year here in Calgary as it marks the centennial year of many organizations around town, including the Calgary Public Library, City of Calgary Recreation, and yes, the Calgary Stampede.  As such, our city has also been designated the Cultural Capital of Canada, and last night, the folks over at Calgary 2012 threw a big bash in the BMO Centre to celebrate!

Entitled the Sweet City Opening Celebration, named after the 2012 theme song for this year, Sweet City Woman by the classic Canadian (and Calgarian!) rock band The Stampeders, the entire city was invited to attend a free concert and party to help kick things off.

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Many groups from all over representing a wide variety of culture were invited to perform and participate, giving Calgarians a taste of the diverse cultural makeup of this city.  Performers included luchadors, performance artists, hip-hop dancers, burlesque troops and so much more.  Mayor Nenshi and Premier Redford were in attendance, and our very own Stampede Royalty were on hand to participate as well.  The headlining act:  A full musical set (with encore!) from none other than The Stampeders themselves.

As a Stampede volunteer and a Calgary 2012 Cultural Ambassador myself, I have to say that 2012 is going to be a BIG year, not just for the Stampede, but for Calgary as well.  We truly are Greatest Together, and if you’d like to learn more about what 2012 has in store for all of Calgary, stay tuned to Calgary 2012 where you can find out everything there is to know about how we’ll be celebrating all aspects of culture in our great city throughout the year.

We’re Greatest Together…Everywhere!

The Calgary Stampede is an organization that operates year-round, and not just 10 days out of the year.

Throughout the year, you can find a Stampede presence at a variety of community and private events, festivals and more, not just in Calgary, but within the province and even outside of it.  Our organization throws many events for the public on our own (for example, the 100 Day Launch Event last March 29 at Olympic Plaza and the Four Corners – presented by BURNCO events happening in the coming weeks in various quadrants of the city), but we also take requests from various groups in the community who would like a Stampede presence at their event to help enhance it.

Today, Stampede volunteers were at the Shaw Campus in NE Calgary helping them pull off their own Stampede breakfast helping their employees celebrate the end of their Fill the Food Banks campaign, a part of their nation-wide Together is Amazing initiative.  As of May 4, Shaw’s managed to collect 718,000 pounds of food and $339,000 to feed the hungry nation-wide.

To celebrate Calgary’s part in the success, employees were able to partake in an old-fashioned Stampede breakfast complete with pancakes and sausage with a small donation to their charity of choice, the Calgary Veteran’s Food Bank.

Here are some more pictures from the event:

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If you’d like to request a Stampede presence at your event, it’s very easy.  Simply fill out this form with the details of your event (for example, date, location and description), and the Stampede assets you’d like to appear.  You can book appearances by the Stampede Queen and Princesses, Indian Princess or Harry the Horse, or you can request volunteers from committees like Downtown Attractions or Promotion to enhance your event with various resources.  While we do try to accommodate as many requests as we can, we also get a lot so the earlier you can get your request in, the better!

And if you’re looking for our next BIG Stampede public community event, you need to check out the Four Corners – presented by BURNCO event happening tomorrow (Saturday, May 12) at the South Fish Creek Recreation Complex at 100 333 Shawville Blvd S.E.  Running from 9 a.m. to noon, there’ll be pancake breakfasts, demonstrations, special activities and more.  With an old-time community fair and interactive games for the kids, it’s like a mini-Stampede festival in your backyard!