You see, my family is not rodeo folk - sure, we owned cows, my sister had a horse, and my dad wore cowboy boots - but that was the extent of it. Rodeos weren't exactly a weekly occurrence for me, but, having grown up in southern Alberta, I suppose it was inevitable that I had some knowledge:
- My grandparents loved the rodeo, and I can remember sitting in their living room watching the competitors.
- Oh, and then there was the time when, at the age of 10, I was smuggled into a small town rodeo in the back of a truck camper. (Ah, yes, I have such interesting memories from the early 80's). Actually, that was the first time I'd heard Garry Lee and Showdown's Rodeo Song - some lyrics stay burned on your brain for a lifetime.
- Then my sister moved into the heart of cowboy country (at least by my standards it was). The small town, with a regular population of about 500, probably doubled in size on their rodeo weekend every year. So many sexy cowboys in one tiny community. (Sigh.)
- And, now I live in Calgary, home of the Calgary Stampede. If ever there was a city enchanted with cowboys and rodeos, it is Calgary - at least for 10 days every July.
Still, I thought a bit of research would be useful to trigger some memories and fill in a few details.
I went to a few rodeo websites first:
- Alberta Rodeo
- The Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
- Central Alberta Rodeo Association
- Calgary Stampede
Then I found some videos on YouTube. Brilliant!
In particular, I found the video below (and a bunch more like it). It shows the "Running of the Bulls", which is an annual event at the Strathmore rodeo. I can't watch the video from start to finish without jumping, putting my hand over my mouth or shutting my eyes once or twice, but it still fascinates me.
After finding this footage, I had, albeit briefly, considered using an event like this in my story. One of the things I learned in a Donald Maass writing workshop was to have characters do, say or think things that are out of character. Having my heroine sign up for this event would certainly be out of character for her... but it was just a little too far out of what would be believable.
So, like any writer, I'll squirrel away information about this event. Who knows? Maybe one of my future characters would like to be charged by a bull.
My next research step will be to confirm a few details with some real cowboys. (Did I mention how much I enjoy research? *grin*)
Would you volunteer to run with the bulls?