Ever since the first rodeo, events have been left to true cowboys and cowgirls. Bull riding, bronc busting, bareback, roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing all require competitors to train and compete year-round.
In the past, city folk have only had the pleasure of watching a cowboy's year of hard work pay off or go up in smoke from the safety of the stands. But now, Canadian city-slickers can get their moment in the rodeo ring by playing a hand of cowboy poker. Thanks to the evolution of extreme sports, they can even run with the bulls.
Cowboy poker--another rodeo event--is not for everyone. You need nerves of steel to sit at a poker table with three other players while a bull runs loose in the ring around you. If the adrenaline pumping in your veins doesn't allow you to sit still for too long, try your luck running with the bulls, the latest addition to the Strathmore Rodeo. Originating in Spain, the running of the bulls is for people who believe they can outrun the several thousand pound beast not far behind.
Pamplona, Spain plays host to the annual "Fiesta de San Fermin." Every morning throughout this nine day festival, a handful of bulls are herded a mile through the town to the coliseum where they are slaughtered by a matador later that night.
However, these bulls aren't anything like the ones that ran in Strathmore over the August long weekend. The bulls used in Strathmore are to those in Pamplona as a house cat is to a wild cougar. The bulls that run in Spain are fighters and will kill runners if they get the chance. It's almost as if they know this is the last day of their lives and want to bring as many people down with them as they can.
Strathmore, which hosts Canada's third largest rodeo, is the first Canadian city to run the bulls. On Aug. 2 and 3, runners took their chances on the pointy end of 30 bulls that were let loose, while over 5,000 blood-lusting spectators jammed the seats to see a number of runners gored. But unlike Pamplona, the running took place in the rodeo ring with easy-to-jump fences resulting in no injuries.
"These were some haggard bulls man, I mean nasty," declared Dexter Smith after his close call.
"It's the beer and the mud / It's the dust and blood / It's the roar of the Sunday crowd." Garth Brooks really knew the spirit of the rodeo when he wrote that song, and it tells the true story of the Strathmore Rodeo for this year. On one day alone, more beer was sold than the five days of last year's rodeo altogether. This figure wasn't supposed to include the runners but I'm sure they took something for their pre-run jitters just like their red-wine guzzling brethren in Pamplona.