By Stan Ashbee
Westwind Weekly News
Chautauqua 2019 is coming! An annual event based on four pillars: cultural arts, religion (or spiritual exploration), education and recreation. This year, Nelson noted, Chautauqua will be held on different days instead of all the events happening on one day.
It all starts this Saturday with Chautauqua Saddle Up in Stirling, said Sandra Nelson, overall event chair.
“This is our fourth year,” she noted. “The Saddle Up program is all about horses and it’s at our Silver Saddle Arena in Stirling. It starts at 10 a.m. with a Colt Starting Demonstration.”
According to Nelson, the first activity is taking an unhandled colt and a trainer and just showing what you can do with that colt in an hour.
Then, Nelson said, there’s a 30-Day Colt Starting Challenge activity at 11:30 a.m. “We have five trainers that have had colts for 30 days and then they come and show what those horses can do.”
At 1:30 p.m., Nelson added, the horses will be auctioned off. “And then there’s a bit of entertainment at 2 p.m. with Native American Hoop Dancing.
At 2:30 p.m. there will be a Ranch Rodeo, she said. “And that Ranch Rodeo is featuring southern Alberta working cowboys.”
A Ranch Rodeo, Nelson explained, is cattle penning and it’s not bucking horses and that kind of thing.
Nelson said Saddle Up will also feature wagon rides, a petting zoo and other family-friendly entertainment.
Another event, Chautauqua’s Got Talent, will be held on June 29 at the Stirling School at 6 p.m.
“We advertised and solicited competitors for that back in April and May. We’ve selected the Top 25 and they will compete on June 29,” said Nelson.
“Then the judges will choose the Top 10 and that Top 10 will compete for the prize money in Raymond on July 1.” The Raymond portion of the event will be held at the Victoria Sports Park. There will also be a small admission charge for the events.
For more information about the event visit online at albertachq.ca.
In the fall, Nelson said, other Chautauqua events will be planned.
Nelson said mayors and council members from the communities of Stirling, Raymond, Magrath and Cardston keep in touch about shared points of interest. “In that, one of them was ‘How could we develop tourism in this area?’ Then it was the idea that came up — ‘Maybe we can do this end of the 1800s and early 1900s — where people gathered and there was all kind of entertainment that could happen there that was under the big tent’ kind of idea. Where they could rub shoulders with family and friends and be entertained,” she said.
“We just wanted to have a community celebration that was a tradition of enlightening classes and demonstrations and workshops and things that would appeal to wide-range of interests and ages.”
It’s been a great opportunity, Nelson added. “Historically, the pillars of Chautauqua have been about uniting communities and families. Any time people come together to have fun together, they’re good experiences that happen.”
It also gave people outside of the region an opportunity to experience some country culture. “That doesn’t happen. Our busy lives, it’s a little difficult sometimes.
Another portion of the annual event is Chautauqua Live, where historical plays and music have been written to tell the tales of early Magrath and Cardston. This year, Nelson said, the story is based on some stories from Raymond and the live feature will be presented in the fall.