I will never forget my first rodeo: I had just arrived in early June 1980 Calgary and by early July the city was in a real party mood. Every night after I finished work I would catch the bus to the Stampede grounds, my compact cassette film camera in hand busily recording the events… and forever frustrated about the poor quality of the images…
I had the privilege of attending some of the finals, watching it from inside a climate controlled booth. It left me somewhat underwhelmed and I never quite understood the fascination with rodeo competitions… until I had an opportunity to attend the oldest continuous rodeo event, the Wood Mountain Stampede and Rodeo (established in 1890) with a photographer friend in mid July. Wood Mountain is a 2 1/2 hour drive from where we live. The countryside is very different from the Moose Jaw area. With rolling hills and pasture land I have put this landscape already on my places-to-return-to list. The Stampede grounds are located inside the regional park with an attractive campground that was taking full advantage of its overflow spaces. Parking appeared to be at a premium!
We positioned ourselves near the action just beside the announcer and time keeper’s booth, ate dust and dirt a few times during the afternoon for an unobstructed view of animals and participants with only the fences between us. I think I now understand the fascination with stampedes and rodeos… photography puts it all into perspective (excuse the pun).
On our ride home we witnessed some of the magnificent skies illuminated by lighting in the south and the setting sun in the west. Ahhhh, another glorious day on the prairies came to an end!