Culture or what?

I drove Jo to work on Monday morning and the host on the radio was talking about the Calgary Stampede which ended the day before:

 6 horses dead.

Midway collapse, injuring 10 kids.

Attendance down 41,000 from last year…

But all in all it was a success.

Last week some guy called the same radio station and was talking about the increase in divorce proceedings that traditionally follow the Stampede and the rise in STD testing by the Calgary Health Board.

Media stuff.

The Stampede is about real cowboys and cowgirls from all over the world competing in different rodeo disciplines for prizes.

 The Stampede is a local festival that starts with a Stampede Parade and last for 10 days where the cowboys and cowgirls compete and where for the regular folk getting drunk is not only acceptable but encouraged.

Where some women who should not, squeeze their body into last years’ Daisy Dukes, just because.

The Stampede is billed as the ‘Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’. 


You are probably wondering what do I really think about the Stampede.

A little bit about the city first.

Calgary is probably the largest city in North America, area wise and a relatively small population; most of the people work in the city core.

On week day mornings the trains and buses head for the city starting at around 5 am full of sleepy people. The train and buses going in the opposite direction are empty. 

Around noon in Calgary is like someone disturbs an ant’s nest, people moving about in every direction. One of Calgary’s nice features is the +15. Most of the buildings in the core are joined on the second floor so you can get around without having to go outside. Nice place to hang out and look at the people.

The Bow River runs through the center of the city and when the weather is fine the entire downtown population head for the boardwalk along the river for lunch, walking, running, biking and sunning. 

Three things about Calgarians you should know; they are very tall, they work hard and they play hard.

By 1:30pm everyone disappears back into the office towers.  Sometime between then and 7pm the city empties. The trains and busses all head in the suburbs taking the folks home.  Result; a ghost town.

Yes, I like Calgary Stampede spirit.

During Stampede the downtown of Calgary come alive, a completely different city. You can pretty much walk around in the morning and get a free Stampede Breakfast somewhere.  Pancakes, sausages and eggs are the standard and the locals are very friendly with everyone wearing a cowboy hat and boots and ‘yahooing’ at total strangers.

 You can’t help but feel like an extra in a Western Movie.

Oh and woman in Daisy Dukes are everywhere.

Most of the big companies have tents and special Stampede parties and the lunch hour sometime never end with everyone ‘yahooing’.

And women in Daisy Dukes are everywhere. 

The parties go on into the nights and;

Happy women in their Daisy Dukes are everywhere.

In 2009 Jo and I attended the last day of festivities at the Stampede grounds; the finals of the Chuck Wagon races and the closing show. I must admit I just could not get into the spirit; I tried. I even bought and wore my first ever pair of jeans, just for the occasion. My kids thought I had lost it. Maybe it was the baseball cap I was wearing that ruined it for me. You really can’t say ‘yahoo’ wearing a baseball cap, no one takes you serious.

Yes, the Stampede is about real cowboys and cowgirls competing in different rodeo disciplines for prizes, REALLY.

Calgarians love their Stampede and make no excuses for their behaviour.

Is that what CULTURE is?

By contrast, Kittitians love their carnival.

I remember as a teenager growing up in St Kitts, on the crack of dawn on Boxing Day my friends and I would anxiously wait for first sound of the Steel Pan. Because the band would be far away the sound would fade in and out with the wind. Like a ghost calling for you. Once we determine where the sound was coming from, we would be off to join the street dancing, jamming, to the beautiful sound of the Steel Pan.

Women in short shorts and skimpy tops are everywhere.

Some men with their refreshment fuels in hand, it was acceptable and encouraged.

 If you were lucky you would be able to find to a woman in tight shorts and skimpy top and attach yourself to her, front to back, locking hips and rotating them in sync to the music, we call it ‘wuking up’ ; of course you would be grinning from ear to ear as your jealous pals look on in envy.

 In those days the band was not carried on the back of a truck, so when there was a dip in the road everyone would run so that the band could make it back up the incline.  Ha! Ha!, I can close my eyes and still enjoy that experience. 

Sometimes when the band cleared the incline someone else would be attach hip to hip to ‘your’ woman, now you are the one green with envy. You didn’t want to have your girlfriend with you in these situations.

I recall sometime in the 60’s  a local cricket hero slash calypsonian, composed a song to match the ‘wuking up’ that went like this:

“123 roll back let me see,

This is how the Kittitians dance,

Young and old back we must roll,

and let the Garat (Antiguan) bounce go to France”

It was quite a hit in the entire region.

I also remember the clashing of the Steel Pan bands. The bands were regional for example the Boston Tigers, the king of all bands, was from the village, yeah, me to. When two bands from different regions met (I think it was pre arranged) there would be fights.  When the bands separated it was inevitable that someone would be hurt, probably the settling of some score.

That was the beginning of a 7 day long carnival that included a parade and featured clowns, masquerades , moco jumbies, clowns on stilts and my favourite, men dressed and acting like bulls, parading around the town, filling the week long holiday that ended with final street dance, called ‘last lap’ on New Year’s day.

The day after New Year’s Day you felt a sense of emptiness knowing you have to wait for 12 months to relive that experience.

For the most part the tradition still continues today.

I wonder what a Calgarian would think looking at the carnival.


The only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary.

You can take the man from the country but you can’t take the country out of the man.

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