Calgary Stampede

Cowboys

It first dawned on me that people from outside our country had some wildly out-of-date notions about Canada on my first ever trip to Europe. It happened when one of my Dutch cousins began asking questions about what life in Canada was like.

Cowgirl

“And the cowboys,” she said. “You have lots of cowboys, right?”

Cowgirls

I hesitated. I was acutely aware that I was about to burst her fantasy bubble.

Cowboy

“Uh, some,” I said. “You mostly see them at the rodeos.” I think an awkward attempt to explain what happens at rodeos followed ― awkward because I had never actually been to a rodeo. I quickly changed the subject.

Barrel Racer

Then again, if you are a couple of Italian tourists visiting Calgary during Stampede Week ― like the ones I met standing beside me at the parade ― it’s easy to go home and think Canada is all about the cowboys.

Bareback Bronc

I suppose there are worse stereotypes out there.

Bareback Bronc 2

The Calgary Stampede (also known as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth) finished up just a week ago. I went this year for my first time ever ― and had a blast.

Bareback Bronc 3

First held in 1912, the Stampede became an annual event in 1923. These days, the rodeo attracts competitors from all over North and South America.

Bullrider

The Treaty 7 First Nations have been an integral part of the Stampede since its beginnings.

First Nations

In addition to the parade (which starts the Stampede off with a bang), the rodeo, and the chuckwagon races, there are lots of animals to see.

Percherons

There’s also a midway, and lots and lots of live music. And pancakes.

And, every year, the Indian Village.

Indian Village

If you’re feeling underdressed, don’t worry. There are plenty of places where you can get your proper Stampede attire. For a price.

Alberta 2016 518

The Calgary Stampede celebrates Alberta’s history, but also its present. Ranching is big business in Alberta half of the country’s beef is raised here.

More Cowboys

I’ve lost touch with those Dutch cousins of mine, so I don’t know if they ever made it to Canada. But if they did, I sure hope they got to see a cowboy or three.

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