By Tasha McDonald
When I was first told I’d be attending The Greeley Stampede I wasn’t sure what to think.
While my expectations consisted of typical western movies I was forced to endure as a child, I was quite excited at the thought of seeing a “real life cowboy” – something that, as a girl from London, I could only imagine.
After setting off in my denim shorts and checked shirt feeling quite the part, I entered into a world of bright lights, rides, country music and most importantly cowboys. It was everything I could have hoped for and more, chaps, cowboy boots, hats, and a great deal of denim.
As I wandered through the various stalls, what struck me most was the range of clothing on offer. From the traditional cowboy hats and boots to Native American headdresses, there was something for every age and interest.
Prices ranging from $8 pink cowboy hats to $200 hand crafted ones; the quality was remarkable, generations of families creating garments that will be worn for years.
As a lover of shoes and boots in particular, I felt it would be criminal not to head home without a pair of genuine cowboy boots– what better place to buy them than a rodeo?
After deliberating for about forty-five minutes on length and colour, the sales assistant asked me how often I ride as I should consider that in my choice of boot? After staring at her blankly for at least 30 seconds I realised she was talking about horse riding. It had never occurred to me that what I had considered “fashion” or “fancy-dress” was still used in everyday life and that the cowboy industry is still very much active in Western American society.
Although a new, exciting and truly surreal experience for me, for the annual Greeley Stampede attendees this is a true tradition, part of their culture and something which they take as seriously as part of their heritage. Aside from my slightly dented bank account and new obsession with cowboys, I can honestly say it was one of the most inspiring and eye-opening evenings I’ve ever had.
Feeling truly immersed in the culture, this was a wonderful opportunity which I can only hope others get the chance to experience.