I love the Calgary Stampede. There, I said it. Calgarians are definitely torn when it comes to the idea of the Stampede. There are the ones who either flee the city or hole up in their houses for the whole month of July versus those who throw on their cowboy hats and mosey on down to the nearest pancake breakfast. I am proudly the later of the two.
There is no denying that I have always been a cowboy culture junkie and, trust me, the kitchier the better. Bring on the horses, the belt buckles, and rancher’s brands.
Heck, I even own a painting with a cowboy in it and am actually disappointed that I only have the one. I do, however, have a fantastic pinhole photograph of the Stampede Grounds by Calgary-based photographer Dianne Bos (see image above) so I guess I’m not doing too badly.
So, needless to say, when the Stampede rolls into town I always get a little excited. It is the one time during the year that the whole city comes together to celebrate its history. We did actually have cowboys here at one time, you know. It’s true… we did.
When I went for a jog this past Friday (around the various piles of horse poo, I must add… where else but Calgary!), I accidently came across the annual Stampede parade. There were families in cowboy gear, the famous Clydesdales, and the Calgary police squad on horseback. People had picnic coolers and matching cowboy shirts – it was a party in the making!
I felt for that moment that I was really part of something bigger than myself… and that big something touched on the mandate of ACE Communities. It was then that I realized that the combined Stampede activities, much like ACE, really did use recreation and culture to bring community together.
The Calgary Stampede is truly one of the times in the year that we have a valid excuse to come together with our neighbours, our families, and our friends… and wear Stetsons. It’s a time for block parties (been to one in my neighbourhood already), stampede breakfasts (I’ve hit three so far) and fun times on the Stampede Grounds. I even have a date planned with my mom, the Stampede corral, and a veggie corn dog if I can find one.
When else in the year can you actually wish someone a ‘Happy Stampede’ and receive a greeting back? For good or for evil, Calgarians are all in this together. So I say let’s use these together time to celebrate our history and to build community. And if a cowboy painting or two happens to come my way… then yeehaw!
For more of Dianne Bos’s pinhole photos, see: http://www.newzones.com/dynamic/artist.asp?ArtistID=133&Page=5