The yearly Calgary Stampede is a real cowboy show. The main events happen within a huge arena in which rodeo, chuckwagon races, bull riding and calf roping are performed by the cowboys and cowgirls.
At first, I focussed on these exciting activities but, the longer I was there, the less interesting they became. How many photos does one need of horseback-riding cowboys or wild steaming bulls, even in Calgary? And access is understandably controlled backstage, where I might have caught some of the nailbiting tension before the action.
Fortunately, just outside the stampede arena is a huge fairground that actually proved more interesting to photograph. I saw large Asian families from India, obese people stuffing themselves with junk food, young women showing off in hotpants. It is an interesting cross-section of Canadian society. Then I met these guys (above) having fun at a stall.
For me, this photo represented the stampede: happy people dressed like cowboys. I am not sure whether they were actual cowboys, but they certainly looked the part. It is amazing how fast a cowboy hat transforms you. I had to wear one too, as the cowboy dress code – jeans, shirt, boots and hat – is compulsory for all media. I must say, I loved it.
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