What a Whip!
When I think of the Calgary Stampede it has brings back lots of wonderful memories and puts a huge cowgirl smile on my face. I was born and raised in Calgary and as a young girl the excitement of the summer was the smell of the Stampede in town.
Our family owned and operated the Noble Cafe which was in the heart of the downtown festivities. We always welcomed the many Treaty 7 First Nations members with their beautiful bead work and decorated horses and we were all entertained with their drumming and dancing. I remember being in awe watching them and just wanting to join in. This was the start of the ever growing and very popular Stampede Parade. Afterwards it was time to take in all the sights and sounds of the Royal American Shows! Like the Midway today, but just on a smaller scale my parents would save up coins for me to play games like the Nickel Diggers. I would drop my coins into the machine and if I was lucky the claw would pick up a cellophane package of 5 nickels. Another game I remember playing is The Name where you would place your bets on shelves and give the gentlemen the first initial of your name, and he would try and guess your name. With my name being Evanthia my parents would always place their bets on the top shelves and we would always walk away a winner!
There was a show open for families to attend; this particular year my mom took me to attend I was dressed in the best cowgirl outfit my mom could find for me. If I still had that outfit from 1958 my granddaughters would love it, and probably wear it to the Stampede as well. This was the Lash LaRue Show, he was a cowboy legend. My mom got us there early enough to get front row seats and I was amazed, this was the same man I had seen on poster advertised around Calgary. He was a tall cowboy, with black buckskins and a bull whip! Well the show got started and maybe it was my little white buckskin jacket and white cowboy boots, but I was picked to go on stage so he could demonstrate his accuracy with his bullwhip. I was shaking, the tent was packed and I had to go on stage in front of a large cheering crowd, my mom was so excited she pushed me on stage. I stood still as could be, he asked me to put a cigarette in my mouth and with his 10” bull whip sliced the cigarette leaving about an inch in my mouth, I was terrified. What was my mother thinking?!
Over the years of attending the Calgary Stampede, I enjoy visiting the displays in the Round-Up Centre (now BMO Centre), playing Bingo, watching the Rodeo and Grandstand Show, purchasing those still famous candy apples and of course making my way down the Midway like I did as a young girl. But what I most enjoy is making my way over to the Indian Village and revisiting the sights of the beautiful headdresses and dancers, celebrating the most important part of The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth - the history.
I have not missed a single year of Stampede, it was a highlight of my childhood and it continued to be a highlight of my children’s childhood and now grandchildren’s. Even though we now live out of town we still plan on the Calgary Stampede as part of our summer plans. This year I will be attended the Centennial Stampede with my 90-year-old mother (yes, that same mom that pushed me on stage 54 years ago), and my six-month-old granddaughter. Generations of fun, excitement and many mini donuts!
Evanthia Bosworth, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta