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'A' is for agriculture, 'Y' is for Yahoo: Children's book on the Calgary Stampede

By The Canadian Press

Published 11:25 PDT, Fri July 16, 2021

CALGARY — "A" is for agriculture, "B" is for broncs, bulls and barrel racing, and "Y" is for Yahoo!

A new children's book has been released by writer Jennifer Webster and illustrator Karen Coe to capture the spirit of the Calgary Stampede.

It highlights the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth with stories dating back to the first year of the event in 1912.

"I'm very partial to preserving western heritage and teaching the kids about the care that goes into the animals and that sort of thing because I really think a lot of it is being lost and the traditions and the stories still need to be told," Webster told The Canadian Press.

"Honestly, there's some really cool stuff about western lifestyle that I think people might really enjoy."

Webster said the inspiration for the book, called "S is for Stampede," came from her mother who encouraged her to document the event.

She said while younger children might enjoy the illustrations, it's mainly aimed at those between the ages of 8-to-14.

Webster took her idea to Stampede's administrators, who gave it the green light.

She admits finding words for every letter of the alphabet proved to be a bit of a challenge.

"It started with the letters of the alphabet and there were some signature things we wanted to capture, obviously, but there were a couple of letters we had trouble thinking of something that was great to come up with for that page," she said.

"There are obviously ones like chuckwagons."

The letter "E" represents Elbow River Camp, which celebrates Indigenous culture. "W" is for white hats, a locally made Smithbilt cowboy hat given to special guests as an symbol of hospitality by the city.

Coe, who is from Lethbridge, Alta., provided the art for the book. Many of the illustrations were from paintings she had done over the years.

She said filling out the alphabet was difficult.

"There were a few that were a little challenging but not the ones that you would actually think. "X" and "Y" we kind of got those pretty quickly but other letters like "N" we kind of got hung up on," she said with a laugh. "We just put those off until later and then kind of panicked at the end."

"N" it turns out is for neck trick, which is performing daring stunts while on horseback.

Coe said "S is for Stampede" was a labour of love for both her and Webster.

"We all come here as a kid, right? It's got deep roots for many people in Alberta so it was a very exciting project."

– Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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