CALGARY - The Calgary Stampede drew record-breaking crowds for its 100th anniversary, with more than 1.4 million guests passing through the gates during the 10-day western festival.
That smashes the previous record set in 2006 by nearly 147,000 and it beats last year's numbers by about 235,000.
"I think there's a lot of people who wanted to join in the celebration of our centennial, people who wanted to say that 'we were there' and take part in it," said Stampede spokesman Doug Fraser.
With the slogan "the greatest outdoor show on earth," much of the Stampede's success depends on Mother Nature's whims. This year, she co-operated, with Calgary enjoying hot, sunny weather most of the week.
"People weren't afraid to come down. It was warm the entire time, except for maybe the last day. But it turned out to be just a phenomenal time," said Fraser.
As for what the Stampede has in store for 2013 — Fraser says "stay tuned."
"We are right now in a celebratory mode where we're certainly basking in the glow of our centennial," he said.
"We're all going to take some time off for the next few weeks. But come September, we're getting right back at it. We're going to be starting to plan 2013 and you can rest assured that 2013 will be as good or better than 2012."
The Stampede drew the usual protests from animal activists who say the rodeo and chuckwagon events are cruel. Three horses died in a chuckwagon crash on Thursday and a fourth was injured.