Calgary prides itself on being the ‘Heart of the New West’ and is promoted as oozing western spirit and adventure. Stampede is the epitome of this spirit.
July sees the start of the 2010 Stampede. What started off with roots laid in 1886 and stemming from an agricultural show has grown into a full-blown outdoor festival, stage shows, parades and rodeos showing off Calgary’s western heritage. Stampede is even more important to Calgary, with the industry being dominated increasingly by the oil, gas and energy industries and cattle ranching being a memory of the past, this is a way to preserve those good ol’ western traditions. Calgary then – but NOW.
From the start of June the local businesses and shops get in on the act and employ painters to adorn their windows with Stampede displays. There is no doubt that the ‘Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’, as it’s called, is coming to town. Some are exceptionally cheesy with cartoon cows and cowboys/girls proclaiming ‘Howdy Folks!’, you can guaranteed there is some lassoing going on and a goofy horse for good measure. Others are works of temporary art with cowboys looking like true wranglers, rugged and wild, no comedy here, ready to explore the prairies. The horses’ muscle tone defined and powerful, the mountains making a perfect backdrop to the scene. That pretty much sums up the Calgarian view of Stampede, you either take it seriously and don your Stetson to work or take it as an opportunity to party, yell YEE-HA and play along to the Calgary redneck stereotype. I will see if this is all true next month as it’s all hearsay to me at the moment.
Tonight, I snapped my favourite displays in low light (near my coffee shop hidey-hole and Reid’s fancy dress store). BUCKAROO TIME!