Most people know about the Western Oasis, retreat for Cabernet cowfolks who prefer a civilized glass of wine to mud and beer. In that quiet murmuring space visitors can enjoy the variant colours and textures of the different works on display in the western art show and the western photo gallery. My personal favourite is Bonnie MacRae-Kilb’s work, featured in the Artist Ranch Project, as striking and energetic as the artist herself. That Oasis is a wonderful spot, reminding us that celebrating our western heritage is tied to image and art, which speak for both memory and vision.
The other is Enmax Park, the new Indian village, which combines the best of the old village with a better location, the striking Treaty 7 family teepees set into the crook of the confluence of the Elbow and the Bow. The new setting is lush and well planned, now slightly apart from the hurly burly of the midway and the bustling crowds. The Bannock Booth is busier than ever, and I tasted the best bannock I have ever eaten the other day. The grassy expanse, the picnic area, and the serenity of the new spot all combine with the interpretive programs and dances, and celebrate the powerful cultural heritage of the people who have gifted us this land. The 26 tipis representing the Kainai, Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda, Siksika and Piikani nations are circles of memory and respect, of the ongoing traditions of the land and the indigenous people and their continuous role in our history.
Both are worth visiting, offering a chance to spend a few quiet hours away from the muddy infield, a small circle of stillness and quietude at the heart of Stampede’s celebration.