I hate the Calgary Stampede.
I avoid it at all costs.
But certainly not because of its representation of cowboy culture.
It’s the crowds.
Fighting against the masses to try a deep-fried Oreo cookie (which, as it turns out, is revolting).
Watching mothers force their children to stay up late so they can catch a glimpse of fat Mike Reno.
Standing in line to pee.
Kids whining for another ride on the ferris wheel.
Skanks and douchebags falling on their faces in the Bud Light tent because they’re too stupid to know how to handle their liquor.
Maybe that makes me anti-social. I don’t care.
But I have a cowboy hat. I keep one on the off-chance I get invited to a party. Or if there’s one or two bands for which I might brave the crowds and visit the Coca-Cola Stage.
I enjoy a good off-site Stampede party (and I get to go to one this year, thanks to Chelsea!).
I enjoy the notion we have a festival that celebrates Calgary’s history and culture.
They wail ‘that’s not what we’re all about here’ and whine ‘everyone thinks we’re redneck.’
Oh, get over it.
Everyone doesn’t think we’re redneck.
Everyone doesn’t think we’re all cowboys or cowgirls and horses trot down Stephen Avenue regularly dropping their piles of doodoo.
It’s a celebration of our heritage.
My hometown revels in its history. Antigonish, N.S., was founded more than 200 years ago. Our roots run deep with the colours of Scottish and Irish tartans.
Our history is no less violent and no less sordid than the cowboy days of the Wild West.
And yet, our street signs are in English and Gaelic (not French, ha!).
And yet, every year, the bagpipes swirl and kilts are flipped to see if yer wearin anythan undder dar cuz a real Scot dont, ya know?
That doesn’t mean everyone wears a kilt 365 days a year.
That doesn’t mean everyone knows the Highland Dance (I would but we couldn’t afford the lessons and costumes so I got stuck in ballet).
That doesn’t mean we’re drunk and rowdy and smashing steins all the time … ah, wait … I may be wrong on that count.
The cry and hue of those bucking against the ‘stereotypes’ need to be drowned out by those of us who are proud of our heritage, those of us who aren’t afraid of the skeletons in our closet.
Those bucking against the stereotypes need to be reminded this is where we came from. This is who we are. And it doesn’t matter if we’re a bustling, busy metropolis with a beautiful skyline, amazing sunsets, a thriving arts district and a diverse population.
No, wait. Yes, it does matter.
But these are our roots.
It’s like that old saying: if you forget where you came from, you won’t know where you’re going.