All cattle men think about visiting the Calgary stampede, and Charles Wallace of the Woodbourn stud had been doing just that since he started breeding Murray Greys over the forty odd years ago. He had been wanting to see the stampede and all it offered, he thought of huge cattle sheds, large groups of cattle being shown and judged American style, maybe even one of those exciting indecipherable cattle auctions where the auctioneer sounds like an old record player on the wrong speed.

But, in truth, that is not the case. On arriving at the stampede, there was a feeling that Oh dear, this is like the side show alley of any other show in Australia, except bigger. The cattle shed had very good displays of state of the art cattle crushes, calf pulling devices, nutrition, and , BELIEVE it or not, PLASTIC COWS and BULLS. The new cattle shed is being built during this year and will have displays of live cattle at the 2014 stampede, but alas, not this year.

In an interesting twist to the Calgary Stampede this year, tens of thousands of tee shirts were being sold emblazened with, “Come hell or high water” across the front. Just a week before the event a once in a 100 year flood had completely swamped the whole stampede ground, the city and the zoo.

Hotels were closed, some indefinitely, the zoo was flooded with 160 animals to be rehoused somewhere at no notice, the giraffe had to wait neck high in water until they found a home for it the next day, the hippo had a floating pontoon made around it to stop it floating away but it swam over it anyway.

The stampede organisers thought they would have to cancel, but the event puts so much money into the city, they said the show must go on. They called for 600 volunteers and 2500 turned up to help. They cleaned the whole show ground and then replaced the whole stampede track (full racing track size) five feet deep with new material.

The show was ready to go.

It was when the afternoon event began, that the excitement mounted. Thousands of people (all in ten gallon hats) were treated to the most amazing schedule of bull riding, calf roping, bucking horse riding, steer throwing, children’s events — all at top speed. The winner of the calf roping did it in 3.2 seconds.

 

Then at night, there is the highly anticipated chuck wagon races. A team of four horses harnessed to the colourful wagon and a very strong man sitting on a flat piece of wood with his legs out to each side of the wagon for stability. Each group of wagons would start with a figure eight, a man throwing the load in the wagon, mounting his horse and off they would go. The wagons at full tilt and the horses with riders galloping as well. Sometimes the mud would obliterate the colours of the wagon, so it was not easy to see the winner you had chosen, or the dust would do the same. Race after race, then periods of raking and watering the track before another race would be off and running. It was a spectacle worth seeing.

Not only the full size chuck wagon races in the main arena, but miniature chuck wagon races in a huge pavilion.

Large men on miniature wagons with four tiny horses harnessed and very ready to go. Nostrils flared, feet scratching at the dirt and they were off – no rules, no respect, witches hats flying, dust everywhere and round they went.. It was hilarious.

A great three days was had and made even better by hospitality at the International Room at the Stampede. You could sit down, have drink, enjoy some air conditioning, and meet people from other countries; New Zealand, Argentina, Australia and more.

An event highly recommended and make your bookings at home before you go.

 

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