Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ride 'Em Cowboy

Magnet # 287:  Calgary Cowboy Photo

Material:  Metal, Paper, Mylar Shell

Purchased By:  Tammy

The Calgary Stampede opens tomorrow in Alberta's largest city. This event dates back all the way to 1912 and lasts ten days in all. It features the largest and most famous rodeo in the world.  Around one million spectators will flock to Stampede Park to take in the activities, which also include a parade, concerts, and exhibitions.  And with more than $2 million in prizes, it draws in some of the best competitors from around the continent. If you're a rodeo fan, this is where you'll want to be!

The beginnings of the Calgary Stampede started back in 1884, when the Calgary District Agricultural Society was created in the hopes of encouraging more Canadian farmers and ranchers to head out west.  Two years later, the organization held a fair and a respectable amount of the town joined in and land was bought for future exhibitions.  However, when hard times hit the economy, the land ended up in the hands of the city, who leased it to the Western Pacific Exhibition Company.  They held their own agricultural and industrial fair there in 1899, which only grew bigger with each passing year.  By 1908, the Canadian Government had joined in, choosing Calgary to host its Dominion Exhibition.  A great deal of preparation and funds went into the event, which included a parade, horse racing, and a rodeo.  It proved to be a success and one of the participants, Guy Weadick, an American trick roper, returned in 1912 to create an event that more resembled the Wild West shows he had been in for many years.  Assisted by local businessmen, he held the first Calgary Stampede in a newly created rodeo arena and it was another success.  It wouldn't be held again until 1919 to celebrate the return of World War I veterans.  When interest waned in the 1920s, the stampede was combined with the exhibition and residents were encouraged to wear western clothing in 1924 and it proved to be a hit.  From then on, the Calgary Stampede has held annually, becoming more popular with each passing year.  Celebrities and royalty such as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and even Queen Elizabeth II began to join in the festivities, which went on the be held at the new Stampede Corral, Western Canada's largest indoor arena.  This event is now a very important part of life in Calgary and every year its citizens bring out their western wear and hold barbecue and pancake breakfasts all over the city.

While I've never been to the Calgary Stampede and I don't think I'll ever be able to make it, I've had my own rodeo experience of sorts here in Savannah.  We used to have a bar here, and I guess it was a sort of country western venue (no, I'm not a fan of country).  Anyway, I was out there one night with friends and I noticed they had a mechanical bull.  When I learned it wasn't free to ride, I made a comment that would come back to bite me - that if it were free, I'd try it out.  Well, one of my friends decided that she would go ahead and pay on my behalf, making it so that I could either chicken out and back down or ride the mechanical bull.  I chose the later, even though I really didn't want to.  And as I don't drink alcohol, I have nothing else to blame the decision on.  Luckily, I made it very clear to the guy operating the bull that I had never tried it out before and was pretty wary of it.  I got up on the monstrosity, did one up and one down, and nearly fell off.  At least he turned it off at that point.  But he did let me know that he had it on just about the lowest setting possible.  One person got a shot of me flying through the air and I still have a copy of it to remind me of the experience.  I didn't have any fun doing it and my arm was sore for a couple of days, but I was proud of myself for not backing down.  And yet I realize that there are those who ride mechanical bulls - and real ones - and love it.  I imagine the Calgary Stampede will be filled with those daredevils and I wish them the best in the coming days.  Just getting a taste of what they do was more than enough for me - I can't imagine just how tough they're going to have it soon enough, but I hope they all have a fun time up in the air.

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