YAHOOO! What a wonderful opportunity to engage in the Western culture as we celebrated a week of Stampede here in Calgary. Sure, I have attended lots of small town fairs which have various agricultural aspects, last fall attended the International Ploughing Match; an outdoor agricultural and rural expo, and of course had my share of riding the mid-way…but I can honestly say that I have never experienced anything like the Stampede!

As a newcomer to Calgary, I knew the Stampede was significant within the city but I didn’t know I could eat pancakes everyday if I wished, that I would need an entire new wardrobe for the week, and that people yell Yahoo, not Yew-haw! People come together for Stampede, share in conversation and storytelling, and people learn and grow together. I am also very aware that there are aspects of the Stampede that divide us, that enforce stereotypes, and that negatively affect God’s creation. It’s hard not to engage in a week long event that rally’s the city together, and yet, we need to be mindful and ask ourselves how we can help decrease the negative impact.

What I saw though throughout the week, as I listened to the radio, saw pictures online, talked to folks within the congregation, drove through neighbours etc. was community! Over and over again Stampede brought community. People come together and community is built. Individuals were able to put aside differences, and rally together over a common denominator. Folks were able to stand in line for breakfast, and then sit around table sharing in meals together. Conversations between strangers were held on the c-train as they travelled to the grounds, as they sat on the road waiting for the parade to go by or as they learned about agriculture together. Friends enjoyed one another’s company as they stood in line for min-donuts, as they cheered at the chuck wagon races and encouraged one another as they played mid-way games.

As we gathered on Sunday night for a BBQ, the closing night of Stampede, I wasreminded over and over again of community.Only 34 people sent in RSVP’s and almost 70 attended. Tables were rearranged,chairs were added and there was enough room (and food) for all. When we are able to come and be together, to share in conversation, and be together as one community, its amazing what can happen. Let us continue to carry the spirit of Stampede into all our communities as we seek, share, serve and care.

Thanks be to God.

Here are some pictures from the BBQ, thanks to Richard Betts.