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Monday, August 13, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Turning Left for the Hospitality of the People of Glenwood, Alberta

Chance Encounters


Our first experience with Glenwood was one of disappointment. We missed an opportunity.

We were running low on gas when we left Waterton National Park last summer and were hoping to find a small town with a gas station on our way north. Firstly, we headed for Hill Spring. Nothing. Then we aimed for Glenwood. Neither rewarded us with gas. We should have headed for Pincher Creek, but we love seeing small, tiny towns. Without gas, unfortunately, we missed our chance to get to know Glenwood.


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We were under stress all the way until we made it to Fort Macleod. If we had a little more time and paid a bit more attention, we would have been surprised and rewarded by the unique characters of both these Southern Alberta towns. Instead, we sped through Hill Spring and missed our left turn to Glenwood.

Our next encounter with the people of Glenwood and Hill Spring happened when we received a chance invitation to join them for their Pioneer Days Celebrations the weekend of 20 July 2018. What a surprise! This time we didn't miss the turn. We turned left on our way back from Waterton.

During our visit, the people of Glenwood took in the Two Cowboys and made us part of their families. We had breakfast at Tina's Cafe, Polony at Van & Dan's General Store. Lost an Ice Cream eating contest at the Pioneer Parlour & Cheese Factory Museum and watched fireworks that outdid some of the best we've seen.

We've discovered massive RV parks in the twin river beds that surround the towns and danced at the Great Canadian Barn Dance until our feet hurt. In Hill Spring we ate ice cream again at the Hill Spring Trading Co. and we joined in the parade after a delicious pancake breakfast. After the show, it was a roast beef picnic! What a trip!

Observations


Here in lies the lesson.  If you take it slow and make time to look around, meet some of the people and learn more about the history and the attractions of a destination, you will be wholesomely rewarded as a traveller.

Because we did, Glenwood and its people are now one of our go-to places in Southwestern Alberta, and we hope we can encourage you to make it yours.

The small towns are where you will find the interesting people, the unique experiences and the best hospitality. They are the real travel gems you encounter on the road.

Unfortunately, they are the folk that misses out on the big destination marketing budgets, so no one ever gets to hear about them, and only a fortunate few get to experience what they have to offer. The world is a less attractive place without stories of Glenwood and Hill Spring.

You will not see a video of a Millennial blond's hair waving rhythmically with the prairie grass while horses thunder and gallop through the river beds surrounding Glenwood or Hill Spring. What you will see when you make the trip is folk riding their horses through town. Blond Millenials sitting on the porch eating ice cream with their families, and friendly people waving at passers-by. They will go out of their way to convince you of the quality of their polony and give you the first taste of their freshly baked doughnuts before opening time.


These are places whose stories should be told. The world should know more about them, and we are set on doing the job. With your support as our audience, we will bring you more Glenwoods, Hill Springs, and who knows where else...

Hendrik van Wyk 
Travelling Cowboy

 We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode to promote a local business or event.             

Photos


Glenwood

The Beginning

The Originals

Ice Cream Baron

We Were There!

Traveling Cowboys

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Old School Values and Fun at the Only Great Canadian Barn Dance, Alberta, Canada

Dance More


The Saturday Night Dance used to be an essential town event that brought the community together. Young and old came to share a meal, dance, meet new people, catch up on local news, and have some good old-fashioned fun and laughter. It was good exercise too.

Unfortunately, like the Drive-in and the Roadhouse Diner, the Saturday Night Dance also disappeared from our towns. 


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One cannot precisely pinpoint when and why this happened. It just stopped, and somehow no one seems to be missing it. Maybe it ended because people became distracted by other forms of entertainment like Television, the Internet and Social Media.

If you ask Trevor Kunkel from one of the last Saturday Night Dance hold-outs, The Great Canadain Barn Dance, he blames the introduction of alcohol to these events. "Everybody had a good time and families participated until alcohol was introduced. People started to misbehave. Before you knew it, parents stopped coming. Older folks stayed away, and people found other ways to be entertained", says Trevor.

He may have a point, because the Great Canadian Barn Dance is in a dry county in Southwestern Alberta and he is now the second generation of hosts that still caters to dancers from, and visitors to the area. Saturday evenings is dance night and has been for several decades now. Friday evenings are for dinner shows, and the rest of the Summer calendar is filled with events and workshops for teaching old fashion dancing and music.

The Great Canadian Barn Dance is, quite possibly, the only campground you'll find where the whole family can camp, dance, enjoy recreational activities, and take in live entertainment all in one scenic location. It caters to music for all ages. You can join in complimentary dance lessons, and with no liquor allowed at the dance, it's an event the whole family can enjoy, the way it used to be.

Observations


We stumbled upon this gem in desperation for a Southwestern Alberta camping spot in 2017. Waterton Lakes National Park's campground was full. We needed a place to park in the area, and Google pointed the way to the Barn.

Apparently, it all started with a barn. Instead of the Kunkels taking to the road every Summer, playing for audiences across the Province, they sought a way to draw the patrons to them. It all started with hosting a dance at the Barn. That was 25 years ago. Since then, every Spring to Fall music rung out over the Prairie, and the people continued to come.

Now we have an annual appointment with the Barn too. The first time we arrived we were immediately welcomed to the Barn Dance family with roast beef, corn and mashed potatoes. Before we knew it, we were doing the two-step, the waltz, the line dance and the polka.

I am not sure what exactly draws us to make our annual pilgrimage to the Great Canadian Barn Dance. It could be the location, the food, the music, the dancing, or it could merely be the old-school values that draw everyone in to have fun together, young and old, like we used to.

People should dance more.  Start at the Barn and keep dancing. We did!

Hendrik van Wyk 
Dancing Cowboy

 We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode to promote a local business or event.             

Photos


Mustering

Dance Place

Old West

The Barn

Roast Beef!

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