Thousands are in Calgary this week for a taste of cowboy culture — but not nearly as many as last year.
So far, nearly 187,000 people visited the Stampede grounds — that's about 95,000 fewer than last year. However, organizers say attendance shouldn't be compared to the centennial.
"An anomaly was our centennial celebration," said Stampede spokesperson Jennifer Booth. "We're still pretty confident that we're going to have great numbers this year."
The Stampede is a major economic generator for Calgary. It brings in over $170 million for the city and is the highest-grossing festival in Canada, ahead of Ottawa's Winterlude, the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto and the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal.
The grounds were underwater two weeks ago when devastating floods hit southern Alberta and officials quickly got to work, vowing the event would go on "come hell or high water."
Now, after long days of cleaning up flood damage, many local residents say the Stampede is exactly what the city needs.
"It's been great to see Calgary smiling again and actually having something to look forward to and something to work towards," said Calgarian Jamie Taylor. "It's like Christmas — you can't forget Christmas."
With all the hard work going on behind the scenes, Calgarians say that seeing the show come to life makes them proud of their city's spirit.
"We're winners," said Scott Carter. "We persevere and we fight and we battle."
With sunnier weather in the forecast this week, organizers are hoping more people will come out to witness that cowboy spirit first-hand.