Tag: Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede with Linda Ford

Today our guest is Linda Ford, who is here to give us some background on the rough and rowdy Calgary Stampede.  Linda will also introduce us to her Big Sky series and give away a book to one lucky commentor!

The year is 1912 and the hero of the story is Guy Weadick, a man born in New York. He ran away from his boyhood home to Montana where he learned to ride and rope and talk like a cowboy. Weadick considered himself to be ‘half cowboy and three-quarters showman.’ Along with other performers, he toured with a vaudeville troupe, barnstorming across the country and even performing in England.

Enter our heroine, Flores LaDue, the stage name of Grace Maud Bensell raised in Montevideo, Minnesota next to an Indian Reserve where she learned riding and roping early in life. At a young age, she ran away from home to join the circus.  A talented athlete, she was famous for roping five running horses while lying down on the arena floor. It is said Guy fell in love with her the first time he saw the petite horsewoman (she was less than five feet tall) hanging upside down from her horse while swinging her rope overhead. Flores was a little more reserved about committing to the re

lationship. She was an independent woman with no interest in marriage. Nevertheless, she couldn’t resist the handsome cowboy and they were married five weeks after being together. He was 21, she was 23. They were partners in a way that was unusual for that day and age. Guy treated her as an equal. After her death, Guy had these words place on her tombstone “A Real Partner.”

Back to the story of 1912. Guy was concerned that the cowboy skills of the West were disappearing as the flood of settlers increased. He approached the Canadian Pacific Railway livestock agent with the idea of staging a rodeo to preserve the old west. He talked some local ranchers into financing his venture and thus the Calgary Stampede was born. From the beginning Guy use this boastful brand that has continued to this day, ‘The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth.’ Guy considered Flores the business woman behind this venture. He considered himself the talker—the salesman.

Guy was determined this would be a Big show—$20,000 offered for prizes, 200 imported Mexican longhorn cattle, 300 of the meanest horses, a replica of the notorious Fort Whoop-Up and many other wonderful offerings. He didn’t want to leave out anyone and invited Treaty 7 First Nations to participate. The Stampede opened with a grand parade through the town. Among those watching the performances were the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and daughter, Princess Patricia.

Courtesy of the Calgary Stampede Archives

Top North American cowboy and cowgirl performers came to compete. Mexican Bandit Pancho Villa even sent his best rider.

A number of women contestants participated alongside men in events such as steer roping and bucking horse competition.

One of the most exciting events featured a local bronc rider, a Blood Indian by the name of Tom Three Persons. He drew the bucking horse, Cyclone, a big black gelding that had rarely been ridden. People shook their heads and predicted that poor Tom was done. The horse exploded from the chute and bucked his best but Tom held on and won the most important contest of the show.  The thousands of spectators erupted into a roar of applause.

Several competent trick riders gave Flores La Due stiff competition for the title of World Champion Trick and Fancy Roper but she won the prize in the end.

For some wonderful pictures of the Stampede and the people involved go to http://www.glenbow.org and search Calgary Stampede under the archived photos.
The Calgary Stampede continues to this day—still at tribute to the cowboy skills of the west.

My stories have never included the Calgary Stampede but do honor the cowboy life. My book, Montana Cowboy’s Baby, is out in July. It is the third book in my 6-book Big Sky Country series. It’s a story about a baby left on the doorstep of the hero with a note saying the baby is his. He knows it’s not. This series is set in Montana—in case you didn’t catch that—and features three Marshall young men, their sister and two close friends. Montana Cowboy Daddy was out in Oct. 2016. Montana Cowboy Family was out Jan. 2017. The fourth book—Montana Bride by Christmas—will be released in Oct. 2017. I am really looking forward to that story. It has many sweet elements. At least I think so. I’ve just turned in the fifth book and it’s about Annie Marshall’s friend, Carly, who is prepared to do anything to save her ranch and her home…including marrying a complete stranger.

I will be giving away a copy of Montana Cowboy’s Baby to one of those who comments on this post. (Or one of the earlier titles according to your wish).

“Fair” Eatin’!

When I was writing my latest book, I ended up thinking about food a lot. This isn’t a new thing. Food usually plays a big part in my books, because, well, I like to cook and I like to eat.  🙂
My heroine is a baker – specifically a cupcake baker, and she’s “roped” into making special cupcakes for a charity fundraiser at the Cadence Creek Rodeo.  It did get me thinking about rodeo and fair food and what makes it so good. When I was growing up we had “The Exhibition” and it was an agricultural fair as well as stage shows and a midway. Harness racing instead of rodeo, but similar in that food vendors were everywhere. I was never one for candy apples or cotton candy, but I always loved one particular vendor who sold burgers and fries. The line ups were huge but worth it. Sometimes I’ll smell meat and hot grease somewhere and  immediately think “that smells like Exhibition”. Whether or not the food is fantastic or not, there’s no denying that it’s tied into memory!

When I was in Calgary I hit the Stampede Grounds a few times and the offerings are slightly different but perhaps even more tasty. My two favourites were Beef on a Bun – succulent shaved roast beef piled on a crusty bun – and the ever popular mini-doughnuts that came fresh out of the grease and seemed to melt on your tongue. The last time I was in Calgary, I bought a bag of them at Calaway Park, an amusement park on the west side of town. Delicious.

Those things are all at the Cadence Creek Rodeo, too – but in THE LAST REAL COWBOY I added something else: a chili cook-off. In my latest (still waiting on a title), it’s rodeo season again and the chili contest is a fundraiser for the Butterfly House women’s shelter. My heroine is making cupcakes to go along with that event, and I figured they needed to be something with a little kick. Chocolate Chili cupcakes were the answer, with Cream Cheese Chili Buttercream. Yee haw!

Do you have a favourite “fair” food?

A new meaning to Stampede Royalty!

Yeeehaw! It’s Stampede week once again and Calgary is rockin’ to great food, great music, and great rodeo!

Stampede Royalty usually refers to the Stampede Princesses, but this year the celebration is a little extra special. Because a new Princess is in town with her new husband: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! A lofty title for the couple the world knows best as “Wills and Kate”.  And the gorgeous pair helped kick off the Stampede on Friday!

Upon their arrival in “Cowtown”, they were presented with the equivalent of the keys to the city: the White Hat. Custom made thanks to measurements provided by the palace, the Smithbilts were given to the couple filled with the good wishes of the people of Calgary. They didn’t put them on right away, but later wore them during their Stampede appearances.

I know Catherine gets the majority of the interest as Princess, but I have to say Wills is looking AWFULLY good in his plaid shirt with rolled up sleeves, jeans, and hat. What I love about Will is that he looks great in a suit as a Prince – but just as much at home in his flight suit (man in uniform! Gah!) and now – in cowboy gear (double gah!).

 

 

 

 

And look – here they are with our Prime Minister (also a Calgarian!) watching my favourite Stampede event – Mutton Busting! There’s something so gosh-darned cute about kids on sheep!

 

 

 

But the couple actually arrived in Calgary a bit earlier, taking a helicopter west for a secret night away in a remote cabin in the backcountry around Lake Louise. Reports say that a special “loo” was built in the rustic accommodations just for the occasion. A friend of mine took her kids to the airport to catch a glimpse, and her son (same age as my youngest!) snapped a photo of the couple chatting with the helicopter pilots on the tarmac.

Stampede is always special, but this week it’s a little extra special for that touch of royalty.

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015