The Rodeo Within A Rodeo

This blog entry about the events of Tuesday, July 09, 2013 was originally posted on July 09, 2013.

PART 5 (DAYS 10-11): “I can tell you’re not from around here either, because you don’t have cowboy boots,” I told the friendly stranger in line next to me, wearing sneakers.

“I’m from Montreal,” he admitted.

The Québécois city slicker and I, along with Leigh-Anne and hundreds of others, were lining up for burgers at the free barbecue of the Dogie Do Rodeo, at the ranch of the local Shriner’s Club on the outskirts of downtown Calgary. It was by far Leigh-Anne’s favorite part of Calgary Stampede, a sort of rodeo within a rodeo, and not just because it has an open bar for twelve hours.

Now in its 22nd year, the Dogie Do Rodeo is a fundraising event held by the Canadian Progress Club and Men’s Club to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs, although in 2013 I assume some of the proceeds went to flood relief. All-inclusive tickets for the day-to-night event are $250/person — raising a couple hundred thousand for charity — which is totally worth it when you realize it’s just as much a fun-raiser as much as a fundraiser, more than any event in the official Calgary Stampede festival.

“Let me hear a big Calgary Stampede ‘Yahoo!’” said the emcee with the incredible white mustache.


What sets the Dogie Do Rodeo apart from the other Calgary Stampede events back in town was that it’s open to anyone to participate in, at their own risk, whether they had any cowboy experience or not — most didn’t. (Seriously, they make everyone sign an indemnity waiver before entering the grounds.)

“I don’t know how they insure this,” Leigh-Anne said to me. She had warned me that previous years included people having teeth knocked out, or fingers broken and the like. Last year, a serious injury postponed the program because it took an hour to get some guy out with an ambulance.

Of course, this doesn’t scare most people. Participation happens in the form of teams of four, as long as one of them is a girl. “Any girl with any ranch experience is a commodity,” Leigh-Anne told me. Although she herself was probably a formidable competitor, she played it safe. In fact, the only event she participated in was a keg stand later that day.

Co-ed teams spawned some co-ed team names, like Three Mitch and A Bitch — but the humor didn’t end there. Making a funny team name was sort of an unofficial competition, and there were a bunch of contenders listed on the board, including:

  • Penis Models

  • Tight Butts and Sweaty Nuts
  • Balls Mahoghany
  • Sloppy Frat Girls
  • Score’gasms
  • Team Merica
  • and my favorite, Dickson Cider, which intentionally sounds like “Dicks in Cider” when it’s spoken on the PA system

The “Dicks in Cider” was an especially peculiar team because three of the guys were in cowboy boots and hats, long-sleeves red shirts — and cut-off Daisy Duke shorts.

“They’re never-nudes!” Leigh-Anne told me when she noticed them. (If you’re an Arrested Development fan, you’ll get that. If not, no worries, the team didn’t get it either; they just thought it’d be funny to wear Daisy Dukes.)

WITH UNLIMITED BEER AND MARGARITAS FLOWING — or a blend of the two as “beergaritas” as Leigh-Anne had been drinking all day — we watched the crazy participatory rodeo. After the obligatory singing of the Canadian national anthem and a trick horse exhibition, the teams with the funny names took stage. They competed in events like:

As much as I thought it’d be fun to participate in a team, I didn’t exactly have one, nor did I want to risk injury by livestock so soon before the pending next leg of my trip. However, I did participate in the only event that didn’t involve the unpredictability of animals: the Wrangler Wiggle, in which random Wrangler jeans and work pants were scattered around the sloppy, muddy corral, and contestants had to run around in their underwear to find a pair that fits. Running around the mud in my socks and boxer briefs was a messy affair, and I fortunately managed to find (and keep) a pair of Wrangler work pants that somewhat fit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the pair with the hidden hundred bucks in the pocket.

AFTER THE RODEO EVENTS, the Dogie Do Rodeo is just getting warmed up. The big barn’s doors opened up for the included steak dinner and barn dance, with a full open bar inside. A DJ and live band covered country classics, as well as the ever popular and participatory “Sweet Caroline” (ba ba bum), which was so good (so good, so good, so good, so good). It was in the barn that Leigh-Anne and I made new friends, including Travis, Jesse, and Blair who taught me the drinking game, “Slaps,” which eventually led to a 10-on-10 flip cup tournament with event more friendly strangers dressed up appropriately in cowboy gear.

With all the drunken debauchery, it was no wonder the organizers of Dogie Do Rodeo bussed everyone in and out of the downtown Westin, so no one had to be behind a wheel afterwards.

Other than a small bleeding cut on my left arm, I was relatively uninsured after the day of hilarious mayhem, which was great because I had other destinations to go to. In the middle of the night on my last night in Calgary, I bid a still drunken Leigh-Anne farewell before heading off in a cab to catch an early morning flight to Los Angeles via Phoenix — the first layovers of a long period of transit time to the other side of the world…


“Is there anyone from Québéc here?” the old proud cowboy of an emcee asked the crowd on the mic. There was small representative applause.

“Well, welcome to Canada!”

Next entry: The Brisbane of My Existence

Previous entry: Hell or High Water

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This blog post is one of fifteen travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Cowboys, Duk-Duks, and Kiwis," which chronicled a five-week trip through the Canadian Rockies, followed by Calgary's Stampede rodeo festival, an assignment through different regions of Papua New Guinea, and a wintery jaunt to New Zealand's South island.

Next entry:
The Brisbane of My Existence

Previous entry:
Hell or High Water


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