Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Agribition 2016

This past week, Tourism Regina hooked me up with a media pass for Agribition.

When I went into the office to pick up my stuff, one of the ladies there asked me if I'd ever been before. I said, "Oh, no. No, no. No. Never."

I didn't mean to be so vocally adamant about it, but let's be real: if you've ever met me, you know I'm not a cowgirl. One of my best friends is a cowgirl, so I know exactly how much I'm not one. And I've always kind of assumed that Agribition is specifically for cowpeople, the same way that Folk Fest is for musicpeople and the same way there's that club in Regina where everyone dresses up like comic book characters.

It's just a place I've never thought to venture before.

When I found out I was going to Agribition, I asked someone to describe to me what it was, exactly, and they said, simply, "It's a beef show." Like I'm supposed to know what a beef show is. I pictured a bunch of cows parading slowly through the Brandt centre, swaying side-to-side and mooing. For six whole days.

I learned two things this week:

1. That's not what Agribition is.
2. You can enjoy Agribition without being a quote unquote cowperson.

When I arrived at the newsroom on day one, a really sweet woman wearing cowboy boots gave me a pamphlet with a bunch of facts on it about Agribition - things like: "attracts 800 international visitors from over 70 different countries," and "$56 million in provincial economic impact."

The pamphlet went on to confirm for me that, yes, the Canadian Western Agribition is a beef show (the best on the continent, it said), but it encompasses agriculture, Indigenous culture, live music, food, and shopping. I could get into that.

So, on Tuesday, I went to my first Agribition event: the jousting tournament. I took Ashley, Robyn, and Sullivan with me, and it was incredible.

You know that feeling you get when you see a celebrity in public or you're at a Death Cab concert and Ben Gibbard finally steps up to the microphone? I had that feeling when the knights rode out into the ring in full armour. Like, I recognize this from movies. Sullivan was equally impressed because one of his favourite cartoons features a dog dressed up as a knight. He said to me, "Mom! Are they going to hit them off the horses with the sticks?"

And I said, "I sure hope so." Is that bad parenting?

Before the tournament, one of the knights rode over to where we were sitting and yelled, "Who will be my fair maiden?" or something similarly dramatic and medieval. A little girl put her hand up and he gave her a rose.

Then, we watched the most intense sport I've ever witnessed live. Full contact jousting is no joke. From the pamphlet: Two knights and two horses will charge at each other...and collide at speeds of 30 mph. The goal is to strike the opponent with the 11 foot lance and unhorse the opposing knight.  

'Unhorse' is such a dignified way to put it. They could've just written bludgeon. I seriously thought someone was going to die in front of me. Armour is also no joke.

The next thing on my Agribition to-do list was find Baba's Food Spot. It's a local food truck that boasts the best perogies in town, and whenever they're in the vicinity, I'm there. Sully and I split a creamy dill rogy box and a drumstick ice cream cake with cute little teddy bear graham crackers in it. It was incredible, as always. That was Wednesday.

On Thursday, I met up with Karlie and we took our kids to see the International Stock Dogs Championship Finals. I'm a total newbie to all of this, so I was just as awed as my two-year-old at the way the handler could communicate almost silently with the dog who then maneuvered its little flock of sheep in a pattern around the ring and into a pen. I mean, I've seen Babe, but it's different in real life. It was adorable and impressive all at once. I'm pretty sure I heard someone exclaim, "Look at those cute little sheep butts!" at some point.

From there, we headed to the food pavilion, where a bunch of local businesses and vendors were handing out free samples of everything from chili and beef jerky to smoothies and pepper jack cheese. We had one of everything. 

And then we hit up the Family Ag and Indigenous Pavilions. Karlie got some shopping in and the kids explored the mini tipi encampment and checked out the animals.

We spent the entire afternoon there, and then we took our respective kids home and headed back for pro rodeo, where we met up with Caroline and Katlynn.

Rodeo: another one of those no-joke sports.

Question: how is it that I can injure myself performing a burpee incorrectly, but these guys can do this:

Either cowboys are not actual people, or they just have rubber bones. Fun to watch, though.

Another wonderful thing about Agribition: MINI DOUGHNUTS. Everywhere.

Also: bull riding. I don't even know what to say about bull riding. I grew up having nightmares about sharks and bears, but what I should've been having nightmares about was bulls. Bulls are terrifying.

That's everything I made it to this year - not exactly a slow cow parade. I'll have to go again next year to hit up all the things I didn't make it to this time - plus jousting again, obviously.