Posts Tagged ‘chuckwagons’

Denim, Boots and Big Hat‘s.. yep that’s that Calgary Stampede.

No visit to Calgary in July is complete without making it at least one day to the Stampede.

The first I ever heard about the Calgary Stampede was from my eldest brother when he came to Calgary to visit his then girlfriend (now wife) in the early ’90’s.  I remember him coming home and telling us that while he was visiting he had been asked to go into her work to help ‘build horses‘.  We were a bit stunned.. Horses.. why did they need horses in the bank?  His reply ‘Everyone has them, they go crazy at stampede time’.  Now I know what he is talking about.

From July 1st downtown Calgary becomes a mix of wood and hay bales as every establishment ‘Stampede-ifies’ their buildings in hope to convert their corporate buildings into rustic old ranch stables, outhouses and barns.  And if it’s not wood and hay bales, it’s painted windows depicting a wild wild west or a simple YEE-HAW!!!.

Corporate suits go out the window and wrangler jeans, boots and big hats become the office norm.  Rarely any work is ever done for the 10 days of the Stampede. Corporate functions, staff parties and other entertainment take over the working world and the celebrations begin.

Every morning generally commences with free stampede breakfasts at various street venues around the city (if you wish to wait in line…. enjoy) and of course on day one the Stampede Parade takes centre stage as it passes through the downtown core and onto the stampede grounds.

The full 10 days are action packed.  From walking the park and taking in all the sights, to enjoying the free entertainment at the various stages; hypnotists, bands, dog shows, motorbike riders, to sitting back in the saddledome and watching the Cowboy Up Challenge, Sheep dog trials or Team Cattle Penning. Wondering the Agricultural section and watching the blacksmiths, the shearers and even the Clydesdale teams being prepped and primed for the heavy hitch competitions, or simply to be ‘bedded down for the night’.

And of course you can’t forget the daily bone crunching rodeo where cowboys rope and wrestle steers and attempt to ride a full 8 seconds on bucking bronc’s and spinning bulls, nor the excitement and speed of the nightly chuckwagon races when the pounding of hooves takes over the arena and wagon’s appear to be flying all over the track.  When dinner consist of the best pizza, fried chicken or strangest concoction of foods available on the midway and dessert is that deep-fried cheesecake, snickers or in my case this year, wagon wheel (YUMMO!)

In my time here I have been to the Stampede all three years.  Watched the chuckwagon races every year and witnessed the rodeo nine times (yes nine!.. I may be slightly addicted!!).  I’ve enjoyed it on my own and with new-found friends, but by far I enjoyed it the most when I got to share it with my family and my two beautiful nephews.

The excitement on their faces. The joy in their eyes.  The passion to be ‘just like everyone else’ as they laid out their jeans and shirts  the night before in anticipation of the day ahead.  The morning of as they threaded their belts and fastened their buckles to make sure that they sat ‘just right’ before pulling on their boots and tipping their hats with a ‘howdy partner’.  They were set for the day ahead.

Seeing the amazement in their eyes as they watched in awe (and sometimes pain) the cowboys below us in the world renown Calgary Stampede Rodeo Arena, being thrown from their beasts; to watching the team cattle penning in the Saddledome and hoping and praying that the team working the cattle could beat the clock and be faster than the team before.  They truly have been special moments.

My two favorite Cowboys!

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Get up…go to work….come home….eat…..sleep…AND REPEAT!

Daily routine. Perfect weather. Feeling blah?  Whats the best cure:…Yep, a road trip.

A lot has happened these last few months and somewhere between June 1 and now, summer has almost disappeared without a trace.  Trust me, when you are used to an Australian Mallee summer, 3 months of sun and warmth is slightly disappointing, plus experience has taught me that October usually brings Calgary’s first snow fall.  Yep, that’s just over a month away, somewhere in the vicinity of  40 – 50 days … Jeez, really! Why so quick?

So what better way to make the most of what’s left of summer than to hit the road and get out-of-town.

But go where?

There has been so much that I have seen within a day’s drive from Calgary.  The beautiful rocky mountains (they never disappoint), the rolling green foothills or the dry and arid badlands?  Enter the Cluck, Cluck, Run Chicken Run Race. Yep you read it correctly.  It’s amazing what an internet search will provide.

Ok, ok.. I was looking up local rodeo’s in the area and given that we are almost at the end of Rodeo season I wanted to see if there was anyway that I could get to just ‘one last rodeo’ before the season was done… and luck had it that the Pincher Creek Fair and Rodeo was on and yep.. one of their draw cards.. the Cluck, Cluck, Run Chicken Run Race….

The rules and regulations of the Cluck, Cluck, Run Chicken Run Race

And seriously, with rules like that, I think it this type of event has to be seen to be believed.

Thankfully it doesn’t take much for me to convince my housemate/co-pilot/car servant, Fiona to make a roadie with me (after all she doesn’t drive) and luring our friend Rosie in with the chicken race, we hit the road early Sunday morning with an unknown promise in our sights.

Pincher Creek is about a two and a half hour drive south of Calgary, through those magical foothills of the rocky mountains.  Needless to say a Sunday drive along the Cowboy Trail NEVER disappoints.  After a couple of quick stops for ‘perfect’ photo ops, we arrived at the Pincher Creek Rodeo grounds as Cowboy Church was wrapping up under the shade of the trees.

The Crowsnest River plunges over Lundbreck Falls into the pond below

Wooden stairs leading up from the base of the falls

The arch bridge over the Crowsnest River just meters from the falls

The pond at the base of Lundbreck Falls

The rocks were slippery at the base of the falls and I managed to snap this one while the girls took in the sights with the Arched bridge in the background

Me sitting at the base of Lundbreck Falls, AB

The arena was empty save for a single cowgirl and her horse warming up and getting to know the ‘lay’ of the arena in anticipation of their upcoming barrel racing event.  With the Cluck, Cluck, Run Chicken Run race set to commence at 12:30pm and with that time approaching, we were disappointed to learn that there wasn’t enough chicken entries to run the races on Sunday *insert sad face here*, but apparently, thanks to YouTube, this is the excitement that we missed out on Saturday.

To say that we were disappointed with missing the 1st ever Annual Cluck, Cluck, Run Chicken Run Race would be a bit of an understatement. After all I’m pretty sure that there would not be too many Aussie’s that could claim that they had witnessed such a race and alas, now neither can I.

The Arena sits empty in anticipation of the afternoon’s events

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