One thing on my to-do list was to photograph a rodeo. I had images of me arriving at some dusty arena, surrounded by people wearing cowboy hats saying y'all and drinking Budweiser. Photographing a rodeo was high on my to-photograph list because it was something very alien to me. I have always defined myself as a city person, someone who is familiar with the urban environment. For me the country is a somewhat strange place, green and empty. The people in the country seem strange to me also, they talk with a different accent and seem to have an unhealthy obsession with horses. I had to find out more.
I always thought I would have to take a trip down south to the southern states of the US to see a rodeo, somewhere like Texas. However I quickly learnt that Alberta (where I am currently living) is very much a country state. Turn on the radio in Alberta and you will hear station after station playing country music, all sorts of songs about tractors, growing barley and that girl who works in the field next door. I wasn't expecting such a strong country lifestyle to be present in Canada.
A big event coming up was the Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival celebrating all things country. It seemed like the perfect event to learn about the mysteries of the country lifestyle, and to photograph a rodeo.
The next event after the rodeo involved jumping off a moving horse and trying to take a young bull to the ground. Why? Because country, that is why.
Next event was a women's event, barrel racing. This was the only woman's event I saw at the Stampede.
The next event was bull riding.
Next up was the kid's event.
After the end of the main show, we had the chance to actually meet some animals.
It became apparent to me how important these animals were to the country people. Some people might say some of the events were cruel, but in my opinion it would be naive to form such a judgement, especially if you were a non country folk like me. It is all good and well saying "oh, these events are cruel to the animals" whilst living a lifestyle that doesn't involve animals. These people live and die with their animals. Their lives revolve entirely around them and like one guy said "these animals are our family". I felt like I had learnt a lot from Calgary Stampede about the country lifestyle, but there was still so much more to learn. Maybe when I leave Lake Louise and travel across the prairie lands through Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, I could stop off in a few country villages and experience the country lifestyle for myself. Learning about something is one thing, living it is another.
There blog only covers half my time at the Calgary Stampede. I will post the rest soon.