Not very long ago, I had the chance to chat again with someone I haven’t seen for a very long time. Actually, it was beginning to feel like forever. Anxiety had crept into my brain.
Are you alright?
It was a relief, then, when I spotted him heading my way down the Calgary Stampede Corral concourse on a Saturday night – a tad smaller than I remembered him – but in fine shape, and smiling.
We were only able to chat for a bit. He was a gentleman as always. Unsurprisingly, a tad overwhelmed, and a bit embarrarrassed with the attention lavished on him. And, concerned. Concerned the Calgary Stampede Wrangler Futurity, the event we were all gathered to witness, was being held up as an auction occurred in his name.
Boy, was that typical. Always worried about the show, that Bill.
Of course, I speak of Bill Collins. Bill and Pearl were two of the very first people I met nearly 20 years ago when I purchased the magazine now known as Western Horse Review. I think dearly of them both. I know I’m hardly alone in that sentiment.
So, the story was we were gathered at the Wrangler Calgary Futurity on the Saturday night of the Futurity. Bill had brought in one of his many lifetime championship saddles to be auctioned off.
Something about a vintage saddle, isn’t there?
A lifetime of rides here.
The proceeds of the auction went to the Bill Collins Youth Scholarship Fund, an initiative he’s been heading for years, and a fund which has provided scholarships to a great many youth heading on to University. It was a beautiful gesture on Bill and Pearl’s part.
Thank you Bill and Pearl!
If you didn’t have a chance to bid on that saddle, there’s still a few of these left.
Divine, isn’t it?
This here fella’s the maker. Recognize him? We haven’t seen him around much this year, either. I caught this shot of him in April at the Mane Event. Back when he was likely still revelling in the glory of the moment. Prior to realizing he actually had to build 100 saddles. One hundred, exquisitely crafted, one-of-a-kind saddles in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the Calgary Stampede in 2012. Built by Vic Bennett himself.
I just hope he’s got some help.
I happen to know there’s only a few of these left. They would make a great Christmas gift. Perhaps a family gift in the name of a ranch or farm, which has had a history of showing livestock at the Calgary Stampede. What an incredible way to honor the legacy both of the Calgary Stampede and your own family.
These saddles retail for $4,995.00. With the Vic Bennett stamp, we know the craftsmanship will be meticulous, right down to the Calgary Stampede brand. The limited-edition saddles will be numbered, signed by Stampede President and Chairman of the Board Mike Casey, and Vic himself, and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
They’ll be presented during a Centennial Saddle Celebration in July 2012.
Check back next week as I present, not one, but two more ideas for great Christmas gifts in my quest to catch up to the real number of weeks left to Christmas.
In the meantime, have a great weekend!