Way Out West Fest celebrates and showcases our authentic western heritage

Organizer Ingrid Shulz hopes to bring awareness and appreciation to western heritage art with event, which takes place in and around Inglewood where Calgary’s roots began.

Calgary is often referred to as Cowtown, referencing our geographical position in the prairies, our ranching industry, and, of course, the Calgary Stampede. While there is something to this, historically, the essence of our rich western heritage has been, shall we say, distorted by a nouveau way of looking at our western roots. Ingrid Schulz, owner of western store Cody & Sioux in Inglewood, recognizes this and is looking to change the way we view our western heritage, deciding that a festival celebrating authentic western culture is a good place to start.

The Way Out West Fest, which runs Thursday through Sunday at various locations in the area, aims to be west-centric, showcasing not only our rich western heritage, but our modern west community.

Schulz explains that the idea for the festival began after she had opened her store. “I saw a bigger and bigger disconnect between urban Calgary and an authentic west, so I decided that I would try to do something about it,” she says.

Schulz often holds western-themed events and workshops in her store and was working with local silversmith Scott Hardy to present a workshop when the idea for something greater came to her.

“I went to the Charleston Food and Wine Festival and in the back of my head was this idea, and when I was there everything clicked as to how I could present a festival,” she says. “I came back and I called (Scott) and said, ‘You know, we’re just going to do a festival instead of a workshop,’ and that’s where it came from. It’s all about presenting an authentic west to an urban crowd and getting them excited about it, and hoping to make people take a greater pride in being western.”

Aside from a silversmith workshop, Way Out Fest (WOW Fest) will also offer other workshops, including a sketching workshop with artist Tayte McRae in the style of western artist Charlie Russell, and a unique opportunity to attend a photography workshop at John Scott’s infamous ranch in Longview.

“John Scott is local, known as the wrangler to the stars, and he’s got this amazing ranch out by Longview that is full of movie sets and quonsets full of props – it’s unbelievable,” says Shulz. “Everything that you need for a western film, you go to John Scott’s because he has it al l… so I thought it would be really cool to have a photo workshop out there at the ranch. He’s allowing us to go onto the property and do that, so it’s sort of a really rare opportunity.”

Shulz is particularly looking forward to Cowboy Church which will be held at Inglewood’s Lantern Church. Led by Pastors Ed Top and Bryn Thiessen, a true Cowboy Pastor. It’s sure to be an experience, complete with Cowboy Poetry.

Saturday’s events include a party celebrating western heritage at the newly renovated Smithbilt Hats building featuring local art, historians and music by the T. Buckley Trio.

Shulz looks at this as a community event: “We thought it would be fun to bring in some Western people for that evening, so that there could be a mix of people, of conversation.”

The festival wraps on Sunday evening with a bourbon tasting at Bricks Wine Company, followed by a screening of Marlon Brando’s recently remastered film One Eyed Jacks at Fort Calgary’s Burnswest Theatre.

With most events centred in and around Inglewood, the original location of the Calgary Stockyards and where the roots of Calgary began, Shulz is looking at making Way Out West Fest an annual community event celebrating authentic western culture. Considering how passionate she is about it, there is no doubt that she will succeed.

Way Out West Fest takes place Thursday through Sunday at various locations around Inglewood, as well as a road trip to Longview for the photography workshop. Tickets and information can be found on their website,

Kari Watson is a writer and former Listings Editor of FFWD Weekly, and has continued to bring event listings to Calgary through her website, The Culture Cycle. Contact her at