The Calgary Stampede is back with its annual tradition of an early release of new and crazy foods on the Midway this summer.
This year, there are more than 50 new foods that Stampede-goers can try, and many of them combine new twists on classic treats from the past and present.
Like, how about the new Chicky’s Chicken Kool-Aid Chicken burger? Or, you can go back in time to your youth for a taste of Dad’s cookies – deep fried variety. If you want to get a little gamey, the Avatara Pizza’s Elkeroni pizza is sure to please.
“This year, we have everything you can imagine from our classics like barbecue, hot dogs, mini donuts,” said Kyle Russell, Director, Stampede Programming.
“And speaking of hot dogs, if you’re a hot dog lover like I am, we got eight new hot dogs this year.”
The goodies don’t stop there, with other taste tempters like the Ketchup and Mustard Ice Cream, the Peanut Butter Pickle Dog and the Jalapeno Cheddar Gut Buster.
Don’t worry though, all your typical favourites – aka mini donuts – will be available this year on the Calgary Stampede grounds. You’ll be able to get hot dogs, corn dogs and your sweet lemonade on the grounds this year as well.
“We like to keep the stampede for all and we know that the Midway food is a great experience for folks that they look forward to every year,” said Russell.
On that list are a few more taste treats – Poutine Colossal Onion, Fruit Loop Funnel Cake, and the Asian Shrimp Chip Nachos.
“When we think of things like our deep-fried fare and some of the more unique offerings, we know it’s an experience. It’s not something that you’re going to eat every day, and it is something that you’re going to come to once a year,” Russell said.
Big this year are some internationally-inspired foods from Mexico, India, and across Asia.
“Well, one of the great things about the Stampede food and the exhibitors that we bring in is that they really look at trends that are prevalent not only in the fare industry, but in the food industry in general, and we have seen a demand for more international offerings,” Russell said.
“We know that the Stampede audience is everybody in Calgary and that we want to have folks coming to Stampede feeling like the Stampede is for them.”
Recipes developed months in advance
Russell pointed to the habanero cherry ice cream taco from V Burger, which draws inspiration from a variety of sources. Among visitors to Wednesday’s taste test preview, it was an instant hit with both Stampede staff and visitors.
“It’s a funny thing. It’s one of these things like, ‘oh, what can we do if that’s fun for Stampede.’ We started something spicy, a dessert that started as a shake like a milkshake, we got a firecracker cinnamon, but we couldn’t figure it out,” said V Burger’s Andrea Harling.
“We came up with these taco shells and thought this could be fun, and then went from the firecracker thing, which is the Pop Rocks in the spice in the sweets, and yeah, that’s kind of just developed into that.”
She said it took them eight months to develop the right formula for the Stampede. A similar time to what other vendors said it took them to develop their offerings.
“The process for new food is quite an intense process. Our exhibitors are creating the food for next year already,” Russell said.
“Every year we challenge our exhibitors to bring something new and unique to Stampede.”
Across the midway food providers, said Russell, there is almost year-round work on creating new products for visitors.
The Calgary Stampede goes ahead this year from July 7-16. For more info on their new food, visit their website.
From the unusual to the one-of-a-kind
Elk is on the menu this year in a big way, offering up a unique food from the Alberta experience that international visitors might not get to otherwise try.
Chris Iturbe, owner of Avatara Pizza is bringing putting elk on pizza in a twist on a traditional favourite.
“We just want to impress the people that are coming down to the Calgary Stampede this year with elk pepperoni, because if you’re coming from Europe, you may not have elk over there,” Iturbe said.
Elk is also playing a part in the Stampede’s most expensive offering this year—a $100 hot dog that combines Waygu beef, elk trim, jalapeño, cheddar cheese into a sausage, which is then marinated in a 2010 Lokoya Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon ($600 per bottle) for 5 days.
Richard Paolini, the owner of Paolini’s Concessions, the master sausage maker behind the dog, said he talked to Willow Park Wines for inspiration.
“It’s a very, very nice wine which complements red meat. What I decided to do was to marinate that meat and that wine for a period of five days and get that just totally infused into the sausage,” Paolini said.
The sausage lies in a bed of charcuterie on a freshly baked ciabatta bun, topped with imported German sauerkraut, banana peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes. Customers also have the option of adding some traditional toppings like mustard after the fact.
He said that he doesn’t know how many of the dogs he will sell, although unlike in previous years where similar priced offerings were made, this one is going to last the entire length of the stampede.
“It is part of the experience, and we will sell quite a few of them, I’m sure.”
DID YOU KNOW:
- More than 2 million donuts are eaten by Calgary Stampede guests
- In 2017, more than 3,475 litres of ketchup and 1,571 litres of mustard were consumed at the Calgary Stampede.
- More than 200,000 pancakes are eaten at local Calgary Stampede breakfasts