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.
Rodeo professionals come from around the world to compete in bull riding, calf roping, bronco busting and barrel racing at Ponoka, Strathmore, Grande Prairie, Wainwright, Leduc, High River – just to name a few. There’s even a rodeo in Jasper National Park. The granddaddy of them all is the annual Calgary Stampede, The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
The showdown is the annual five-day Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton in November. Stakes are high – prizes often top $1 million. Competition is fierce. With an equal mix of devoted fans and enthralled newcomers, the energy is through the roof.