Eight seconds. Hold your breath. Grip the rail. Time stops. Eight seconds is how long the cowboy must stay on the back of the 1,800 pound, seriously annoyed bull madly thrashing beneath him. The buzzer sounds, the champ leaps clear of the flying hooves and tips his hat to a crowd gone wild. Welcome to rodeo, Alberta style.
Countless rodeos take place throughout the province. The granddaddy of them all is the annual Calgary Stampede, the richest rodeo competition in the world with more than $2 million in prizes to be won in calf roping, steer wrestling, bronco and bull riding, and barrel racing. Oh and let's not forget the famed chuckwagon races. There is nothing to compare to the thrill of horses, wagons and outriders thundering down the homestretch, dirt flying, the ground literally shaking under your feet.
The biggest rodeo also means Calgary's biggest party. For 10 days, one million visitors get roped into Stampede fever. So grab your boots and hat, pardner, and cowboy up!