The stampede was quite an event, with the majority of attendees wearing the full cowboy regalia, we felt a bit out of place in our street clothes.
One day was spent examining the horses and cattle; we still can’t get over the size of the Clydesdales, especially after seeing the miniature ponies. We popped into the Big Top to see the cutting horses, for those of you not in the know – it is when a horse and rider separate out one cow from the herd and then work to keep the cow from joining the herd. I have never seen horses move like that before with their rippling muscles hard at work to head off the cow at each turn as tried to works its way back to the safety of the herd. The closest analogy I can draw is that of a dog bowing down as it prepares to run around and play. Bek’s favorite for the day – playing in a ‘sandbox’ filled with canola seeds.
Despite our best intentions, one day at the stampede was so tiring that we took the next day off. But we rallied for the final 2 days of the stampede.
Saturday first thing was Superdogs: dogs of all sizes running obstacle courses and relay races, and showing off their dancing skills. Then it was rodeo time – bareback riding, bucking broncos, barrel racing, calf roping, steer wrestling and the funniest – 6 groups of 3 kids getting dragged on their faces around the arena by a miniature pony while they attempted to jump on its back. It was amazing to watch the horsemanship and abilities of the riders and it made me want to get up on a horse.
And Sunday, the final day of the centennial celebration of the Calgary Stampede, it was pouring rain. Of course only long enough to get us completely saturated as we walked to the grounds. We spent the evening in the grandstands watching the chuckwagon racing and evening show. The chuckwagon event is a bizarre one apparently very popular in Canada with two different leagues and a large fan base. Each race involves four wagons with two ‘outriders’; At the starting horn the outriders throw a barrel into the back of the wagon and mount up to keep pace with the wagon as they weave around 2 barrels tracing nearly a figure 8 before they race out and around the race track . There is so much action with each race that it is impossible to take in all of the detail.
The post-wagon show was a mixed bag. A little disappointing that they had to cut some events from the lineup due to slippery wet conditions, but the remaining events were awesome. Lots of the typical dance and song and a fireworks display that was phenomenal. Really really close to where we were sitting. And after the finale of the fireworks, we discovered that there was a closing ceremony fireworks display. Our heart rates had not even slowed down before they were accelerating again.
And to top it all off, we got to have a reunion with Hayley, a college friend from Australia.