The Rodeo begins with a bang in Calgary fireworks followed by a band concert. The last note of the national anthem is still hanging in the air when the first bucking bronco is released from the chute, and the event that brings throngs to Stampede City every year is off to a rip-roaring start. Events at "The Best Outdoor Show on Earth" include Wild Cow Milking, Saddle Bronc Riding, Bareback Riding, Calf Roping, Barrel Racing, and Steer Wrestling. Trained horse acts and clowns fill in the gaps between competitions. As exciting as all of these events are, the most amazing is kept for last. Nobody leaves the grandstand before the Bull Riders have burst onto the scene. The picture above fails to convey the remarkable ability of the rider in this unlikely sport. Is it really reasonable to expect a person of ordinary size to stay aboard two thousand pounds of angry pot roast? But stay aboard they do, and the riders who do it well earn livings off their ability. The bull riding purse at this year's Stampede is worth CN$50,000.
Reigning over this year's Stampede are Queen Kari Hames and Princesses Jody Hooker and Shilo Johanson, pictured above. They represent the Stampede at more than 200 functions during the year, but the most important is the one over which they presided today, the Stampede Rodeo.