Where it all began.
The tiny town of Raymond, Alberta, proudly bills itself as the home of the first stampede ever held in Canada. Founded on a patch of bare prairie by a Utah industrialist, the town was named for his son, Raymond Knight. It became a bustling hive of activity, and even had an opera house. Ray Knight provided most of the money, the stock, and the vision for the first rodeo.The animals came from his vast ranchlands near the Montana border. Cowboys from the surrounding ranches were invited to participate in saddle bronc riding and steer roping. To house what he dubbed a “stampede,” Knight built Canada’s first permanent rodeo grounds featuring a single bucking chute and a covered grandstand. Ray didn’t just organize the stampede either. He also won the steer roping competition. The second Raymond Stampede, in 1903, was the first professional rodeo in Canada – with official rules, entry fees, and prize money. It’s still going strong every Canada Day long weekend. The first Calgary Stampede wasn’t held until 1912, when Guy Weadick produced a “Frontier Days and Cowboy Championship Contest.” In 1919, Weadick returned to produce the second Stampede, dubbed the “Victory Stampede” to commemorate the end of World War I. As you may know, the Calgary Stampede is also still held each summer. Come hell or high water.
You might be surprised to discover that rodeo events happen far beyond summer. The first bullriding event of the year takes place in March in Claresholm, thankfully indoors!
Rodeos, bullriding, and chuckwagon races of both the big and mini kind are held up and down the Cowboy Trail. From the Raymond Stampede in the far south, to Millarville, Cochrane and Rocky Mountain House, all the way to Mayerthorpe at the northern end of Highway #22.
Some rodeos focus on unique aspects – like all-native rodeos, or the annual Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association event.
Rodeos this summer along the Cowboy Trail:
HIGH RIVER: Little Britches Rodeo hragsociety.ca
Monday, May 19, Victoria Day.
ALDER FLATS: Rodeo May 23-25. alderflats.ca.
Features a full day of events from cowboy breakfast and morning parade to evening barbecue and dance. Rodeo starts at noon.
MAYERTHORPE: Indoor Rodeo: May 23-25 (Read more about Mayerthorpe here)
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE: June 4-8 (Read more about Rocky Mountain House here)
WATER VALLEY: Stampede June 6-8
SUNDRE Pro Rodeo, June 19-22 (Read more about Sundre here)
HIGH RIVER: pro chucks and the Guy Weadick Rodeo
June 19-22, 2014. For tickets call 403-652-3336
RAYMOND STAMPEDE: July 1
CALGARY STAMPEDE July 4-13
BUCK LAKE: Stampede July 11-13. The 52nd year.
The DOGPOUND Rodeo is over a hundred years old! July 16
LONGVIEW: July 18-20 (Read more about Longview here)
TSUU T’INA Pow Wow and Rodeo, Bragg Creek, July 24-27
The MILLARVILLE Racing & Agricultural Society’s rodeo will be held August 1-3. millarvilleracetrack.com/millarville-events/rodeo/
BAR U RANCH – Old Time Ranch Rodeo, Sunday, August 10
CARDSTON: has both its rodeo and the mini-chuckwagon championships in August. Rodeo August 10-11 and minichucks August 16-17.
PINCHER CREEK, AB – August 15-17
COCHRANE: August 30-September 2. This year includes the PeeWee barrels and breakaway finals. (Read more about Chochrane here)
CAROLINE May 16-19 Big Horn Stampede (Read more about Caroline here)