My husband and I recently had the incredibly delicious opportunity to be “CS Foodie” Judges at The Calgary Stampede. It was so much fun, and due to our category being “BBQ on the bone” it was also so much meat and so much mess!
For those that may not be familiar, the Calgary Stampede has been running for over 100 years, and is a large agricultural event; essentially carnival meets rodeo. It grew from humble beginnings in 1912, attracting double Calgary’s then modest population of 40,000, to set an event record in 2012 at a whopping 1,409,371 attendees! They have the typical carnival food, rides, and games, along with a rodeo, chuckwagons, evening show with fireworks. Along with a plethora of agricultural displays, local vendors, and concerts. This year, I purchased a pass which, for the price of two days admission, admits me to the park all ten days. So far I have been four days, so I’m pretty pleased about that!
So, the important part, the food! Each judging group receives a category; in our case, that meant eight meat items from different barbeque vendors. In addition to what we had, they include grouping such as; international cuisine, vegetarian, BBQ on a bun, and apparently one just for corn dogs, who knew! Although I assured them it would be a great category on its own, a couple sweet treats are judged by each group along with their assigned food type, a welcome end to so much protein.
The four judging criteria were taste, presentation, value for money, and whether you would recommend to others. As we all know, taste is king, so that was worth double the marks of the other three for a total score of 35. Now, I missed who won our category with the cumulative scores, but I will say myself that if you are heading to the grounds, pretty much all the barbeque we tried was delicious!
Here are my top picks;
Winner winner turkey dinner.
This was my number one choice. We tried two smoked turkey legs, but the one from Turkey Drumsticks was far superior in my humble opinion. Seriously saucy, fall-off-the-bone tender, and just the right amount of smoke. It’s pricey at $20, but I think it is worth that, for the novelty, flavour, and, well look at it…it’s huge!
Pterodactyl wing – not made with actual dinosaur.
It may not have been everyone’s favourite in the group because it was just so difficult to eat, but my love of chicken wings coupled with a barbeque sauce that we all were all left raving about, made it something I would recommend trying.
Beef ribs…that I thought were going to be alligator.
I took “Gator BBQ” a little too literally and had been super excited about the alligator ribs. Lucky for me, they were still delicious. We had another set of beef ribs, from Big T’s BBQ, and a lot of my comrades liked them better, but I couldn’t rate them highly because they were not what I wanted in a beef rib. They were smaller, more pale and for a while we were all convinced they were pork, in the end deciding it was just a different cut of meat. We tried a third set of ribs as well, actual pork, but I just didn’t find them all that special, since they’re pretty common.
An actual chicken dinner, and a good one at that!
The picture below was Blazin’ Barbeque, which did a good chicken as well, but the half chicken from Boss Hogs was far more tender, and I preferred the flavour. Unfortunately, between the amount of barbeque sauce all over my hands and the way we tucked into it, it wasn’t overly photogenic.
Lava Whip; I scored this the highest, because ice cream.
Pineapple soft serve with strawberry puree, and cookie crumble. Pure heaven; would (and probably will) eat again! This was a good amount of ice cream for the price, and won me over against the Waffle Taco was too much waffle not enough of the good stuff! Let’s be honest here though; I still ate it.
Thank you SO much to the Calgary Stampede for letting us tag along, it was serious fun, and we ate so much we had to sit in the air conditioned wine garden for over an hour to recover from our meat sweats!