Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Bringing Out 'Come Hell or High Water'

Monday, July 15, 2013

OLA: Bringing Out 'Come Hell or High Water'

humorous contortionist
wave rider
acrobatic bicyclist
the ravages caused by the flooding...but the Indian Village
of the  Calgary Stampede still stands!
-shirts with these words sold out every day in the Calgary Stampede from July 5 to 14. The phrase was coined in the late 1800s, describing droves of cattle being brought to the railroads when cowboys had to cross even flooding rivers and scorching open prairie. What an appropriate saying for Calgary Stampede 2013! The 'Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth' that brought in 1.4 M international visitors at its best was threatened with cancellation when heavy rainfall caused devastating flood waters to inundate the southwest section of the city and outlying towns.  A massive clean-up with thousands of volunteers got the act together in time for the July 5 opening of the 10-day event.

Carol at The Wild Horses of the Calgary Stampede
Fascinated Enzo
Family Day

After the two free breakfasts and Parade during the first two days, Bill and I scoured the huge fairground in two full days, Family Day and Senior’s Day. July 7 was Family Day and we went with Claudine’s husband Arnold, their seven-year old son Enzo, and Jamie, his nanny and Arnold’s cousin. Everybody had free admission as long as they reached the Stampede before 9 am.  Fortunately, I was able to get up on time!
Arnold and Enzo winning $$$
Immediately, we went to the Stampede Market for the newest gadgets and gizmos.  But it was not Bill or Arnold who got stuck there. Enzo was so fascinated and couldn’t leave the Zoku stand which was selling a colorful popsicle-maker through blast-freezing, producing better taste and healthier options.  But Arnold and Bill did get grill mats and miracle cleaners/sprayers for their cars.

Arnold helping Enzo hit the target
Fancy Burgers at the Cowshack!
Two hours was not enough to cover the entire area but we were all hungry and proceeded to Cowshack which had good burgers and drinks in a shaded and fenced area where we could rest. After lunch Arnold went to the games. In the first he won all of $16 which quickly got swallowed by the next games. There were so many Enzo didn’t know where to run to next. We then had great funnel cakes for snacks.

Calgary Show Band at The Steps
We had time for the Agriculture Shows and found so many interesting and beautiful animals like the miniature horses and the smallest rams and the different breeds of horses. But my left heel started to hurt so Bill and I went to The Steps where every half hour there is a new show.  

Right before the Calgary Show Band performed, Arnold and the gang joined us. Then during the break, Arnold and Jamie went to get a Colossal Onion for all of us to share. Even then, it was difficult to finish.  Soon we witnessed Bendy Em squeeze herself into a foot and a half cube!  Enzo was right in front getting as amazed as Bill and I! And he had his photo op with the contortionist after.

I found my yellow teepee!!!
Senior’s Day

July 9 was Senior's day. The whole day, all seniors, 65 and older have free admission, free breakfast, and free rodeo seats.  This was one time I wanted to be 65 (I have four months to go!).  At 9 am we were right in time for the breakfast and got our tickets for the Rodeo.  I got everything free because when they asked if I was a senior, I said I was (albeit in the US and the Philippines). Then we went to peek at the Indian Village where different tribes of the First Nation were represented in colorful teepees.

Before the Rodeo we were able to catch the noontime show of Bell Ranch's H20 Extreme Show (Some ride horses, we ride waves!). Although the jetski daredevil rides were awesone, Bill and I were especially thrilled with the Russian's water spout show. Luckily, we were one of the last to be led in so our seats were high up in the bleachers, depriving us of the wetness of the occasion.

Pool B steer wrestling in action
But the Rodeo is something else.  The quality of any rodeo is based on the caliber of the competitors, both the men and the animals (horses, steer, and bulls). The Calgary Stampede Rodeo has the world’s richest prize money, over $2 million in prize money. Thus, it attracts the best, mostly from the US (Texas, Oklahoma, etc.), Brazil, Australia, and, of course, Canada.

the Motorcycle Daredevil Intro
Contestants are divided into two pools, the first competing from July 5 to 8, the other from July 9 to 12. The top four winners advance to Showdown Sunday, July 14. The remaining six competitors in each pool compete on Wild Card Saturday, July 13. The top two in each event advance to Showdown Sunday, – Rodeo’s Richest Afternoon with over $1 million to be given away.  The winner in each event gets the Calgary Stampede Championship and $100,000.

Indian Hoop Dance
The four events are 1) bareback horse riding, 2) steer wrestling 3) saddle bronc horse riding, and 4) bull riding, and 5) tie down calf roping. Unbelievable strength, stamina, and determination are required from both the cowboy and the animal. In addition, the rider must get in rhythm with the horse in events one and two in order to properly use spurs and to just stay on! But 2, 3, and 5 are definitely contests of strength and skill! There was also a token ladies’ barrel racing event and, of course, a queen and two princesses were ‘crowned’.  The intro act was a sensational demo of motorcycle daredevil riders while the intermission was an Indian hoop dance.

World Stock Dog Championship
Right after the Rodeo, we went to the World Stock Dog Championship. It was a first-time for Bill and me to witness such a competition. A stock dog and his trainer compete with other tandems for the shortest time for the duo to shepherd a trio of sheep to do the figure 8 at the center of three barrels, to slide through a fenced side bar, and, lastly, to  enter a four-sided fenced-in yard. The fastest time was a lady and her dog who did all that in 117 seconds. Quite a show!

delicious elephant ears!
The last show we watched was at The Steps, an acrobatic bicyclist who spoke English with a heavy French accent but managed to elicit laughter from the crowd. His mastery of bicycling from any position mesmerized the crowd. He surprised us most when he rode a small bike that was, oh, probably less than two feet long. But at his grand finale, he rode a tiny bike that was about a foot long and went through a ring of not very blazing fire.

colossal onion
That was at 6:30 pm so we got some ‘elephant ears’ for dinner and walked through Stampede Market to check out the sections we missed out on, especially the Western Oasis and its Wine and Beer Garden, when we were there on Family Day. This time, we brought home two laundry balls, one for us and one for Claudine’s family, perfect for baby’s cloth diapers which Claudine wants to use after Kai’s first month. We also passed by Family Feud Live on the Corral.

fast-selling t-shirt!
Then off we went home by 8 pm, our feet sore and our backs waiting for the bed to soothe them! The High Water was surely gone although the Saddle Dome was still out of use (shows there like Bruno Mars, Tim McGraw, etc. were cancelled), water still being pumped out of its bottom floor. But it surely did not stop  Stampede!