The greatest outdoor show on earth

by Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca

I can't cook pancakes. Made from scratch or out of the box, it doesn't matter. I will either burn or undercook them without fail. That's why I look forward to the week and a half in July when I can enjoy all the perfectly cooked pancakes I can eat — and free, to boot.

The phenomenon known as the Calgary Stampede breakfast began during the 1923 event. According to one account, a young chuckwagon driver who camped at the train station would have friends visit him during breakfast, and they would eventually invite visitors to join them.

Miss Alberta Petite helps flip pancakes at the CBC Calgary Stampede breakfast. (Andree Lau/CBC)

Today, the breakfasts are a much-anticipated tradition hosted by corporations and community groups at the same time as the Stampede, which bills itself as the greatest outdoor show on earth.

This year, there are no less than 49 pancake breakfasts between now and July 13.

The majority are handled by the Stampede Caravan Committee, a group of volunteers, who ensure the pancakes are fluffy, the sausages hot, and the coffee plentiful. All this under the sun in front of scorching griddles — and with big smiles.

The breakfasts bring all sorts of people together in the pursuit of free flapjacks and you don't even have to step foot on the Stampede grounds to get a taste of that famous western hospitality.

Cowboy hats are optional.