This week is Stampede week in Medicine Hat. It is a celebration of everything that makes this region tick; a celebration that goes to the core of who we really are. Alberta is weathering tough times right now, but it has done so before. To face up to these circumstances we have to be tough, resourceful and ready to do the hard work it takes to get by and survive. You can’t go home and cry about what you don’t have; you have to go out there and do what you can to make a living for yourself and your family.
It is these qualities and attributes the Medicine Hat Stampede celebrates as much as anything else. It’s nice to wax all poetic about the cowboy way and the western lifestyle, to talk about coyotes howling at the moon or getting along little doggies, but, at heart, being a cowboy is about digging down deep to fight weather, land and beast to scrape a living out of the hard prairie grasslands or stony mountain ground. Alberta as a whole can learn a lot from its cow-folk, who continue on generation after generation, changing to meet the necessities of the times and adapting to all that can be thrown at them.
The bronc rider has to hold true for eight seconds no matter which way the beast beneath him turns; no matter how high it jumps; no matter how far it kicks its legs out. It’s the perfect metaphor for Alberta itself: Facing economic uncertainty, weather woes and family pressures in the face of hard times, Alberta, like our cowboys, just has to ride this current storm of circumstances out. It won’t be long until sunny skies return to these endless horizons.
So go out and enjoy Stampede week; watch the rodeo, hit the fairgrounds, take part in the midway. And while there, take a moment to celebrate and pay tribute to the hard-charging spirit of Alberta. A spirit which may be quelled for the moment, but can never be broken.