By: Scott Strasser

Along with live music and fireworks, the July 1 festivities at Mitford Park feature plenty of games and activities tailored to younger kids. Photo by Wyatt Biggart/For Rocky View Publishing

The culture and history of Rocky View County is the focus of this year’s Canada Day festivities throughout the area, thanks to events happening July 1 at Cochrane’s Mitford Park and Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

“Every year it’s a bit different and we try to change up the theme a little bit, so people who have been before can come experience something new,” said Kailey Leonzio, event co-ordinator for the Cochrane and Area Events Society’s (CAES) second annual Canada Day festivities at Mitford Park.

This year features culture and local clubs, according to Leonzio. A highlight of the event will be a rugby showcase match between the Bow Valley Grizzlies and a squad representing the British Army.

“[The rugby game] will be a great way to showcase this club in Cochrane that I think a lot of people don’t know about,” she said. “The fact it’s against the British Army [is cool], as there are a lot of British people in Cochrane.”

Musical performances from the Smoking Aces, Jason Cote & Rolling Thunder, the Nova Scotiables and JR Kaquitts Band will be hosted on three separate stages, she said, and local members of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation will also perform a cultural dance.

While parents enjoy the live entertainment, a host of other activities will appeal to younger attendees. Carnival-style games and stations will include pony rides, face painting, bumper balls, lawn tag and a magician.

Leonzio predicts a dunk tank will likely be one of the event’s most popular attractions.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m obviously hoping it’s going to be a hot day,” she said.

In the evening, Calgary rock band Daring Greatly takes the stage as the headline act, and Canada Day fireworks are scheduled to go off at 11 p.m.

Leonzio said the event offers something for everyone to enjoy, noting even those who leave town for the long weekend should be able to catch the tail end of the festivities.

“The entertainment kind of builds as the day goes on, so we’re hoping to see lots of people come out, whether they’re from town or the surrounding areas,” she said, adding the event typically attracts anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 people.

This year incorporates a charity aspect, she added – attendees are encouraged to bring donations for Camp Jubilee, a local camp for Girl Guides of Canada members in Cochrane.

“They lost their playground at that camp in the 2013 floods, and they’re hoping to rebuild it,” Leonzio said. “We just want to collect donations to help them out with that.”

Those looking for a different way to celebrate can head to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park for a guided walk, where attendees can learn more about the area’s rich and abundant history.

“It’s a great way to be outdoors in an active, recreational scenario, while also getting a hands-on education,” said Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation Public Program and Outreach Co-ordinator Nathan Foy. “You leave with a little more appreciation of what’s around you, or what was there in the past.”

Park steward Alan Sitter will lead the tour from 10 a.m. to noon, he said, providing information about the site’s natural and human history. And, since the walk will take place in the morning, Foy added, participants will have a better chance of glimpsing some of the park’s residents.

“We don’t like baking in the sun for too long, and the animals are the same,” he said. “Normally, it’s when the temperatures are a little cooler – 15 to 18 degrees is the sweet spot – when we see the most wildlife out.”

Only 15 spots are available, on a first-come-first-served basis. Registration can be done early at

Foy suggests bringing a camera, as well as water, snacks, sunscreen and a hat, as the event will be taking place rain or shine.