I have so many fond memories of rodeo weekend growing up in Tisdale. Spring was always in the air and there is nothing like some warmth and sunshine to put a sparkle on any event. The town was always hopping. There are always visitors from out of town and a surplus of locals all gathered at the RECplex. Tisdale has an incredible facility for a town of around 3500 people. The rink is attached to the curling rink with a huge shared lobby. Also attached to that facility is the elementary and secondary school and the rink lobby has access to the elementary school gym. Between the rink cleared out to house the rodeo and the gym and curling rink filled up with trade show booths, there is an abundance of action. I can even remember the smell cotton candy mixed with livestock that would hit you the moment you stepped foot into the building. That was the smell of the Tisdale Rambler Rodeo.
My family always went to the rodeo. The event is put on by the Ramblers (the sr. hockey team) and since my dad played Rambler hockey for over 20 years and always put a booth in the trade show (Dad’s beef jerky may have been the most sought after item at the trade show!), we pretty much lived at the Recplex the entire weekend.
I haven’t been to the rodeo in years. April is final exam time at the university and I may have only made it home for one or two after I graduated from high school. I then moved away to begin my teaching career and along the way forgot how much I love Tisdale’s signature event.
After Hugh lost out of his hockey playoffs this year, Hugh and I made a last minute call to hop in the van and bust home for the rodeo. Lucky for us, my brother is currently a Rambler and was the go-to guy for 3 day event (The Rambler who organized the event had to be out of town and left Luke in charge – pretty risky, Carson ;-)). Luke secured us tickets for the Saturday night Rodeo and helped us get Calder a place in the Mutton Bustin’ Event.
The Friday before we left I was getting excited. It wasn't the "Thank the Lord this week is over" kind of excitement. It was the kind of excitement that comes with anticipation. I could not contain my giddiness with my afternoon class and spilled the news about the thrilling weekend we had planned. They might not have shared in my excitement, but it didn't bother me one bit. I. Was. Pumped.
Friday night after we arrived in Tisdale, Hugh and I put the boys to bed (with some assistance from Grandma Fritshaw) and headed to the beer gardens. We had a fun night of drinking beer and socializing. Hugh and I mostly chatted with each other, save a few great conversations with, my brother and some hockey players and their wives. I knew quite a few people there, but very few I felt comfortable bellying up to the bar and tying one on with! Next year I am gathering a pose (Aimee, Ader, Andrea to name a few) and making some plans!
On Saturday after Boone’s morning nap (and mom and dad's extended sleep in), we took off downtown. One of my most memorable teammates of all time and friend, Andrea, recently opened a café in town specializing in cupcakes and all things delicious, called The Sweet Cup. I ordered a Chai Tea Latte (yum, yum, yum), had a tour of her amazing establishment and we headed off to Pearson’s. Grandma promised Calder a toy! Shocking! We continued on with a walk around the trade show at the RECplex. We were barely in the door when I ran into my best friend from high school, Aimee, and her family. It was so great to see her. Luke had a booth, so we eventually made our way over. Again, we felt a bit on the special side since we had a home base and a place to stash our coats and excess baggage! We enjoyed taco in a bag and poutine for lunch while we watched the heavy horse pull!
Saturday evening was the main event. Rodeo & Mutton Bustin’. As a kid dad always let us come around the back side of the arena and sit in the players box for the Rodeo. We had special access to that spot because my dad was a Rambler, but in recent years this spot has been opened up for anyone with rush seating. In an attempt to recreate my childhood, I made Hugh arrive an hour early to secure this special spot. At one point I had to shoo off some kids who stood in front of us, and at another point I had to purposefully ignore some people who were trying to weasel in, but we managed to secure the best seats in the house.
The rodeo was like any other rodeo. The sound system in the RECplex isn't great, but because we were by the sound booth we could hear quite well. The rodeo clown was pretty funny and used a ton of adult humour - But we weren't there for the show - we were there for the competition - primarily, Mutton Bustin'! For those of you who have no clue what this is, picture the chute the bull riders come out of. Now picture a miniature version of this that would fit a sheep. Now picture a large man setting a small child on this sheep. The child grabs the sheep around the neck and the chute gets opened. Ride 'em cowboy! Jes, Luke, and I all have our own Mutton Bustin' stories, but I will just share Calder's today.
Calder was pumped. There were about 8 kids from the ages of 3 - 5. I think the maximum weight is 60 pounds. Calder would have been one of the bigger kids at 42 pounds. I am glad he was bigger. The younger, smaller kids seemed more scared and definitely weren't as strong to hang on. Calder was the last to go. He grabbed around the sheep's neck and had a good grip (I witnessed everything, because I was standing on the rail behind the chute - thanks to our prime seats!). Calder was having trouble getting his legs wrapped around the back of the sheep, so his butt kept falling off to the side. The guy placing him on tried to prop him up and when Calder slipped to the side again, the rodeo clown grabbed on to the back of his pants and held him on the sheep while the it raced around the arena (The clown had been doing this for some of the other kids). When Calder was done, he stood up and shot both hands in the air! After it was over we asked him how it was. We thought he would be super pumped. Calder said it was, "good." I'm not sure if it wasn't his thing, or if he was annoyed that the clown helped him when he didn't want help! My guess is the latter!
All-in-all the rodeo was an awesome experience. I am thrilled to have rediscovered it and added to the list of Hamilton Family Traditions!