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Calgary Stampede Memories


The CALGARY STAMPEDE brings to mind many exciting moments. For those who have participated in what is deemed “The World’s Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, my musings may be of interest.

If not, MJR’s website offers several Calgary Stampede covers from the 1930’s for your perusal.  
However, before I begin to ramble or “giddy up” and get wind & dust in your eye, I am reminded of a placard which is still posted at Fort Calgary. 
The “fake news” cowpoke rode off with my Grandpa’s horse, on the very first Calgary Stampede (1912). The thief tricked my Grandpa into believing he was going to “show case” his horse, in the Stampede Parade.

The poster (featuring the thief’s photo by DOC MARCELL, who was the official photographer of the 1912 Calgary Stampede) further declares:
“Either pay up the five bucks ($5.00) owed or return the horse”….
This thief was last seen crossing the Canadian border into Montana, with a couple of arrows in his butt. He is easily identifiable so if you see him turn him over to the Law. A Reward for his arrest will be given.

As a kid born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Stampede week was my fantasy dream come true. Every year after the July long weekend, the Calgary Exhibition Board hosted the rodeo of all rodeos!

The festival of all festivals - with cowboys 🤠 from all across Canada and the U.S.A.  Each of them with “silver dollars” in their eyes, as they competed in numerous rodeo events for cash.💲💲💲
One old timer, a chuckwagon racer, said:  “I’m going to turn the reins over to my son, he can make a real good living racing chuckwagons.”  (Quoted, late 1940’s early 1950’s.)
Cowboy/cowgirl dress was the trend during the week/ten days. Thousands of tourists from all over the world attended. 

Everyone’s intent was to have a good time, and take in as many events as possible. 
Not just a good time but a GREAT TIME!!! 
I think that statement might have been proffered  by the Alberta Liquor Control Board, considering “beer” 🍺 was downed by “dry dusty” throats quicker than the falls at Niagara. Even the horses were drinking beer. Apparently they “bucked” higher after a pail or two. Whereas the bulls didn’t really give a shit, they drank everything.
You know the term Alberta Liquor Control Board baffles me?  A preferable name would be Alberta “Out-Of-Control” Liquor Board. Don’t you think?
Anyways, back to being a kid 👦🏼 …

As “pennies” were tight in my youth, my mother who was a great seamstress, made my cowboy garb. A gray satin shirt with western fringes, gaucho pants and a two generations old cowboy hat stuffed with tissue paper to make it fit my small head. Some say it’s very small and vacant.
The Singer machine was a humming - foot to the pedal!
And, damn it, I even had a “cap gun” with Smokey red caps.  I was a Roy Rogers look-a-like I thought, but without Trigger or Bullet at my side. 🤠
I was especially eager for parade day which was on a Monday, back in the day. Up early; catch a bus or two and hit the parade route. 
If you were up early enough you could feast on FREE flap jacks, bacon and pancake,s 🥞 which were “flipped out” faster than you could chow them down. No one went hungry during stampede week.
Square dancers in their western attire, “dosey doed” in the streets to the music of fiddles, banjos, guitars and/or steel guitars, drums and accordions. 
HOWDY PARTNER, and a tip of a 10 gallon cowboy hat made everyone feel welcome.
Parade started at 9:00 am, and by marching time thousands of anxious “lookers” lined the parade route for a glimpse.  All of it was pretty exciting for a kid, and the old timers loved it too.
Musical marching brass bands in precision. Silver batons twirling sky high - then the catch. Did they ever miss? Bag Pipes, Shriners, a vintage Fire Truck and jalopies were all a part of it.
Horse teams with chuckwagons flaunted their sponsored logos. Buffalo & carts rolled on by, RCMP in full parade uniform (some marching, some mounted on horse back soon to perform their world famous Musical Ride).
Indigenous people showing their proud heritage, wearing colourful head dresses with feathers fluttering in the wind and beaded animal skins. Many were riding bare back on palomino ponies. 
The stage was set, as later, ritual dances were performed and colourful blankets would be laid out and communal bead work displayed. This all took place either at the First Nation Village or Big Four building located on the exhibition grounds.
More parade. Clowns were energetic, cheerful and interactive, tossing candies and trinkets to kids. 
Decorated floats were staggered throughout the parade. Talented and creative people spent countless hours putting magnificent displays of artistry together.

The elaborate tableaus were pulled by tractor, truck, car or horses which were also camouflaged in floral decor.

Competition for the prestigious “first prize” float, was fierce. 
No one left disappointed.  
Next week - celebrities, dignitaries. (VIPS) and what did Bob Hope say to Red Adair?

In the interim I’m back in the saddle again.

MJR lists new items twice a week on our website:   Friday’s 3:00 pm (MST)
and Tuesdays 9:00 am (MST) check us out.

Take care,
John bucci

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