The Messy Aftermath of the Calgary Stampede

Pity the souls that clean up after western Canada's biggest party.

|
Jul 14 2015, 6:40pm

The tarmac of the grandstand after day nine

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

You've all seen the pictures: cowboy hats. Girls on mechanical bulls. Deep-fried treats that will be pure evil when they leave your body. A 20-year-old man hunched over, puking in an alley. That's the Calgary Stampede that we all know and love.

But what happens when the party dies?

Rather than photographing everyone's indiscretions and hangover-inducing nights, I grabbed my camera and headed out to the midway and grandstand to take a look at the underdogs of the ten-day event: the clean-up crew.

Gates close at midnight.

Carnival games are independently owned and the crew is hired by the owner. The Plate Breaking game can make anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000 in one day.

Richard has spent 28 years as a carnival worker. Paid on commission, he works the Plate Breaking game and works just 54 days a year. This is his only job.

Andrew has nine years as a carnival worker.

Nga is working her first Stampede.

John is, as he put it, the "lead hoser."

A crew of about 50 clean the Grandstand from 11 PM to 7 AM.

With garbage cans every ten feet, it's a long night for these guys.

Jolen, clean-up crew.

Every night Nashville North is sanitized from top to bottom.

Nashville North sees about 7,500 people a day.

Midway food. There is a composting program for all the food vendors, but the Calgary Stampede is a long way from being a green event.

Early-morning patrol on the midway.

Stories