It’s taken 24 seasons, but the Badlands Passion Play recently marked their 150th performance. The afternoon of July 9 saw people take to the hills in Drumheller to the formidable amphitheater where the Passion Play is performed.
Prior to the 4 p.m. show, there was a tailgate party of sorts as the famous Wheatland Band performed under the tent to celebrate a couple 150s: first, the milestone show; secondly, the age of our nation. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Royal Sproule and Lewis Frere onstage (with Travis Friesen to complete the trio), so it was great to hear some of those Lewis & Royal classics again in person. The Wheatland Band is an experience all to themselves, if you are fortunate enough to bask in their musical brilliance.
Now. Onto the big show; the epic show. As a kid, I recall attending the Black Hills Passion Play in Spearfish, SD (that site has long since been closed after 70 years, and revamped as a music venue), so I had some basis to compare the Badlands version to. Plus, I’ve read the book a few times over.
What makes this passion play so intense is the venue. The acoustics in this amphitheater are incredible and the hills allow performers to interact with their audience in an unique way. The landscape is certainly used to full advantage with cast members appearing all over and around the set.
For a three-hour play, the action is fast-paced, and a lot of Biblical ground is covered. The actors are flawless, and sometimes play multiple roles that require quick costume changes. It was hot enough viewing the play, I could only imagine what it was like to perform in the same heat.
Here are some Passion Play Pointers to help plan your visit:
1. Bring a seat cushion. The seating consists of wooden benches, and after sitting for awhile, I was certainly longing for a pillow!
2. Pack lots of water. Especially with the high temperatures, this is vital! The venue does have a concession if you forget, though.
3. Hat and sunscreen. This goes without saying, an afternoon in the sun simply demands this. And bug spray isn’t a bad idea, however, there weren’t any bugs on our visit.
4. Plan ahead for dinner. We were lucky with our visit, having beat the crowd to Boston Pizza by mere minutes. Drumheller eating establishments can get very busy after a show, I’d recommend making reservations if you want a sit-down meal.
Wow, another amazing rodeo parade - and it didn't rain as per tradition! I was on a float getting some pictures of all the fun. I posted an online gallery here - did I see you?
For the second year of the "new route," I think it went quite well. Seems like there are always two seasons here: winter and construction. At least we can mitigate the second one with the different route!
This year's theme was celebrating Canada's 150th birthday, and it was interesting to see the different groups' take on that theme. Overall, it was a colourful, vibrant, and sometimes raucous parade!
This year, after the last float zoomed by, a free bbq lunch was served at Veteran's Park, hosted by Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt. He brought a couple of his peers along with him, provincial PC leader Jason Kenney and Calgary-Greenway MLA Prab Gill.
Looked like the politicians had fun meeting with people and enjoying Brooks hospitality.
My personal pick for Hero of the Rodeo Weekend is Naomi Zacharias from Creepy Monkey Graphics. Our area was hit by a huge storm last Thursday, and even the pine tree outside Naomi's shop fell victim to the incredible winds. This did not stop the tenacious lady, she was super busy with last-minute work (including a shirt I had ordered).
As the clouds threatened to dump some more rain on us last Friday, Creepy Monkey Graphics was abuzz with people picking up orders and float displays. So when I saw Naomi parked along the parade route, I had to get a photo of her. If you were at the parade, you likely saw some of her handiwork!
As the parade wound back into the Old Rodeo Grounds and the floats began to get dismantled, I looked around and thought, "what a fine salute to our country." With all the stuff going on right now in the world, it's so refreshing to enjoy a beautiful summer morning.
Maybe that's what could solve a lot of our problems - just quit arguing and watch a parade; enjoy the atmosphere.
Here's a press release about the Canadian Badlands Tourism Ambassador program. I'm one of the ambassadors for the Newell Region, and it's been so much fun sharing some of the amazing sights and sounds from this area. I've had the chance to meet my fellow ambassadors, and they are very skilled, extremely friendly people. If you have an event or destination you think we should cover, give one of us a call!
Canadian Badlands Announces Social Media Ambassadors
CALGARY (June 5, 2017) — Canadian Badlands Tourism (CBT) is pleased to announce the selection of several social media tourism ambassadors. These ‘Tourism Ambassadors’ are local
social media users, who will use their influence to showcase unique ways to experience the
Canadian Badlands. The crew will attend and promote local events, attractions and experiences
from now until the September long weekend.
“We are more than pleased to have such fine local ambassadors set to tell authentic stories of
this land and its people. By showcasing their experiences on social media others will be inspired
to visit the Canadian Badlands and seek out their own adventures. ” says Barry Morishita,
President of Canadian Badlands Tourism.
A total of 20 Tourism Champions have been selected in the following regions: Special Areas, the
County of Newell and Lethbridge. Here’s a snapshot of the ambassadors for the Newell Region:
Samantha Plett is a mother of two toddlers, wife to a farmer and photographer by passion. She
grew up in the Badlands, and is keen to show tourists the diversity of this region. “From the
prairies to the river to the hoodoos, we have such a variety in our own backyard,” she says. Her
go to on hot summer days is the outdoor swimming pool in Bassano, followed up by date night
Follow Samantha on Instagram @samanthaplettphotography
Rebecca Campbell moved from east to west seven years ago. She now lives in Brooks with her
husband and their three little boys. Her other passions include teaching yoga and meditation,
energy healing, writing and photography. She and her family love exploring Evergreen Park and
Rolling Hills Reservoir. She hopes to encourage tourism to the Canadian Badlands: “So others
can explore the diversity of the landscape and meet the incredibly kind and down to earth
people who live here.”
Connect with Rebecca on Instagram @themindfulmamalife or on her blog
Ryan Kiedrowski is a photographer, dad, husband, and tourism advocate. He loves music, Macs
and Nikon (not necessarily in that order). According to Ryan, the Canadian Badlands is like no
place else on earth. “The vast territory of the Badlands means each community can be quite
different. The land shapes the people, and we have some amazing stories to tell.” Ryan
recommends visitors check out Spin Nightspot for a night out in Brooks. “They have several
themed nights with fantastic house and guest DJs,” he says.
Explore with Ryan on Instagram @rykieimagesevents and on Twitter @DuchessABphoto
Rachel Boekel is a mountain girl living a very rich prairie life as a visual story teller. She works
as a portrait and wedding photographer in Brooks. Rachel is a self confessed sucker for a big
sky, hoodoos, pronghorn antelope and the storms that roll over our fields and lakes. Her tourism
wish is simple. “Everyone should see a sunrise or sunset over the Badlands, or the golden glow
of a canola field in peak bloom. When you stop to listen and look, the landscape is wild and
diverse, and the people are the salt of the earth,” she avows.
Follow Rachel’s adventures on Instagram @rachelboekelphotography
Emily Duncan is into adventure, hockey, photography, writing and spontaneous drives to the
middle of nowhere. Many people have asked Emily why she left her home in the rolling hills of BC and her response is always the same. “I love being able to see forever across our prairies, and yet still be so close to such incredible landscapes like the coulees. I wouldn’t trade living here for the world, and I encourage anyone to come experience the grandeur of our Badlands for themselves.”
Connect with Emily on Instagram @emrosedee and on Twitter @Emrosedee
A spirited sunset chaser, Larae Pierson is is always up for an adventure. By day, she works with entrepreneurs and teams. Off hours, Larae spends time traveling or on the family ranch located north of the Red Deer River. One of her favourite things to do is tuck into juicy steak and weekend soup at the Patricia Hotel, where her Grandad’s brand is etched into one of the tables.
Connect with Larae on Instagram and Twitter @Return2Rural
Join the Party
Locals and tourists are encouraged to join the ambassador’s adventures. Simply follow the
hashtags #CBTAmbassador, #MyBadlands and #visitnewell on Twitter and Instagram to receive
the latest updates, and learn more about local gems in your region.
About Canadian Badlands Tourism
Canadian Badlands Tourism (CBT) is a not-for-profit Alberta Corporation providing a new and
innovative approach to creating an integrated, destination-based tourism industry in South-
Eastern Alberta. CBT is the largest co-operative regional partnership of municipal governments
in Alberta. The shareholders are 59 municipal governments, who recognizing the power of co-
operative efforts to develop and implement strategic regional tourism development plans.
For further details contact:
Newell Regional Tourism Association
Well, hopefully not ALL week, but it sure started off that way! But, rain during Rodeo Week is to be expected around here. Another tradition is the week-long pancake breakfasts being served up free of charge by local businesses.
This morning was the TD Bank Mall merchants, who despite a rainy morning, provided some delicious pancakes & sausages. Of course, the rain dampened their outdoor experience, so the crew hosted diners indoors at Gus' Pizza.
If you're like me and forget where the different breakfasts are each year, here's a list for the rest of the week:
Tuesday - 101.1 The One & Real Country 105.7 + Mall Merchants
Wednesday - No Frills + Bevan & Partners
Thursday - Brooks Motor Products
Friday - City of Brooks + County of Newell (at the Fire Hall)
Saturday - Evangelical Free Church
Sunday - Cowboy Service at the Old Rodeo Grounds (10 a.m.)
All breakfasts are served between 7 and 9 a.m. The lines can get long, so best to be there early!
I've wanted to do a piece on Joe and the boys for awhile, so met with them one morning last week. Also, here's the text from my intro in case you can't understand my marble-mouthed words!
The local barber shop once dominated main streets across small town Canada. Now, like with all things deemed "progress," finding a good barber shop is becoming a more difficult task.
Not in the City of Brooks, though. Joe and his boys are making sure of that.
Joe Ezzedine is the owner of the Downtown Barber Shop, and has been for over two decades. Joining him are sons Ezzy and Jay, plus they now have an apprentice for a whopping four chairs on the go. A visit to the Downton Barber Shop is like a trip back through time – to a simpler age where men found out the latest news over a trim and pontified from the barber's chair.
I've been getting my ears lowered at Joe's shop for over 15 years – back when there wasn't any salt in my hair. Nothing much has changed in the shop during that time, save the expansion the shop received a few years back, effectively doubling it's size and allowing the Ezzedine's to stock hair products.
Perhaps it is this familiarity that roots the Downtown Barber Shop into the very essence of Brooks; the stability that Joe and the boys will be there with a hearty greeting when you walk through the door. The fact that no matter whose chair you sit in, they know exactly what your usual cut is.
It's like a right of passage for a man to bring his son to Joe's shop, inaugurating another member into the community; and that's what going to the Downtown Barber Shop is: community. You're not just another noggin in the chair.
I had so much fun shooting this wedding, and I hope you enjoy this preview. It's an honour to be invited to partake in a client's big day - a responsibility I don't take lightly. It's extra special when you get to document the day of such a fun family.
It always amazes me how far family members travel. There was a large contingent of people from BC, and as far away as Nevada who made the trip to share in this joyous day.
Congratulations, Amanuel and Karen - thanks for the fun day, and may you have many happy years together!
In late February/early March, we traveled to Playas del Coco, Costa Rica for a much-needed rest. During our stay there, we ate at a wonderful diner on the main strip called Le Coq. They serve Lebanese dishes, and we were quite impressed with the food. Then, we found out that the owners were fellow Albertans! I had the chance to meet with one of the owners, and she agreed to have a quick interview about their restaurant.
Jackie and her husband Lionel made a big decision a few years ago to leave the frigid Canadian winters in favour of a more temperate location. They chased their dream to Costa Rica to a blossoming tourist town that attracts many Canadians every year.
Finding fellow Canadians that have moved to Costa Rica is a godsend for newbie tourists. They can suggest the best places to find what you need, and note some spots that you may wish to pass on. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Jackie and Lionel, and hope to meet up with them again on our next adventure!
A crowd watched four large horses and two happy gentlemen seed this year's crop for the Newell Foodgrains Growing Project, just outside Rosemary, AB. this weekend.
In 2013, the seed for this project was planted, so to speak, after a serendipitous meeting with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. This inspired the project in it's current form, and for the past two years, land has been rented in the Rosemary area in an effort to help with the global hunger crisis.
According to statistics, one in eight people around the world go to bed hungry daily. Groups like the Newell Foodgrains Growing Project are rising up to help meet the need. They have three main objectives: to raise awareness of global hunger; raise money to end global hunger; and build community while doing this.
Certainly lofty goals, but the people of Rosemary are a dedicated, hearty bunch. And while the barley will grow thanks to the support of these people, the crop will also prove symbolic of what can be achieved when a group of people join to bolster a worthy cause.
To find out more about the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, visit their website here.
That's right, we're partnering with our friends at Something Borrowed by Dawn to offer a pop-up event this Saturday, May 27 from 1-4 p.m. in Duchess.
Space is limited as these 15-minute sessions are already booking fast! We'll be using some of the cool vintage props that Something Borrowed by Dawn has to offer (I've been wanting to work with Dawn for some time now!), and sessions are only $60, which includes a few digital images.
We're welcoming previous and new clients of RyKie Images & Events, but if you are a returning client, we do have an additional present for you for your walls!
I know this is short notice, and I hope like heck that the weather holds. My studio is currently under attack of storage boxes, so this outdoor setup will work fine!
The newly-minted JBS Canada Centre officially held its grand opening over the weekend. Dignitaries spoke during a special ceremony on May 13, and free activities (including celebrity sports) were held to mark the occasion.
The physical building was the result of many years of development, and around two years of construction. Major additions to the existing structure include a new home for the Brooks Public Library (touted as the best in mid-sized cities across Alberta by Brooks Mayor Barry Morishita), a new fieldhouse with meeting rooms and an attractive mezzanine.
Bow River MP Martin Shields provided those in attendance with a history of the facility. He was mayor when the idea of expansion was first concieved. Mayor Barry Morishita was a Councilor at that time, and both men reflected on how exciting the development has been during their tenure.
The County of Newell was a major component to the project, contributing one million dollars. Reeve Molly Douglass expressed her joy at seeing the construction come to fruition, noting that seeing the new JBS Canada Centre sign "gave her shivers."
That million-dollar number was also what JBS Food Canada Inc. contributed for naming right of the facility. The company (Brooks' largest employer) has been a huge part of the building's success, and employees receive special rates.
The building has been open during construction, and even hosted events in the new facilities. The largest of these so far was the recent Brooks & District Chamber of Commerce's Trade Expo, which utilized both the fieldhouse and curling rink areas. It was a layout many area residents were accustomed to, as the previous trade shows had used the Centennial and Sparrow arenas at the Leisure Centre.
MLA Derek Fildebrandt noted how he likes to sing the praises of Brooks and area to his counterparts in Edmonton, and this facility is another fine bragging point for the area.
The next major sporting event that the JBS Canada Centre will be an integral part of is the Southern Alberta Summer Games in July. Registrations to participate in the Games are now open, and the organizing committee is still looking for volunteers.