"Always deep-fried, always delicious" the sign said. Who knew you could deep-fry Oreos, bananas, cookie dough, gherkins and lemonade? It's a Stampede thing.
Without an ounce of country girl in me but wearing the customary white cowgirl hat (clearly marking me as a visitor), I was keen to see if two days at the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, Canada would convince me that deserved its claim as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
With the theme of 'Togetherness', Calgary Stampede is an inclusive affair with the Treaty 7 First Nations people as actively involved as they have been since the first Stampede in 1912. They are, after all, the original cowboys.
The grandstand crowds are treated to fast, thrilling, 'don't blink' rodeo events that are over in seconds but leave you wanting more and in awe of their speed and skill.
Between steer wrestling, carnival rides, BBQ ribs, corn cobs, dog shows, miniature donkeys, the biggest freakin' horses I've ever seen, the Indian village, parades, hats, chuck-wagon racing, army tanks, boot-scooting and Bollywood dancing, there is just enough time to enjoy the twangs of heel-tapping live country music.
So was it the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth? It totally was. When thunderstorms hit and the horizontal rain was falling by the bucketload, the main arena evening stage show went on. The performers sang and danced their heart out, totally drenched, proudly Canadian and had the crowd on their feet as the anthem and fireworks finished the night.
It's a Stampede thing.