Monday, May 09, 2005


It's Cowboys, Indians - et les Français:
My first contact with le country was accidental. While travelling last summer in Lorraine, I saw a banner reading "Marange-Texas Rodeo" and decided to investigate.

Two smiling Frenchmen dressed in 10-gallon hats, cowboy boots and spurs welcomed me to the event. I paid €2 (£1.42), but only because I had showed up in a Peugeot hire car. Anyone riding a Harley-Davidson got in free.
Hold on a sec while I clean my specs!
Inside the fairground, the United States and Texas flags flew proudly as French families disguised as cowboys or Native Americans waited in line for the "Apache Dinner", a fixed menu of chili con carne and corn on the cob topped off with a French twist, a delicate tarte aux fruits rouges.
My specs are fine, but I can't believe my eyes!
As it turned out, the Marange-Rodeo was not a rodeo but rather a celebration of country music and culture. Sporting a cowboy hat and a red bandana around his neck, Yves Muller, the organiser of the annual event, explained that le country is a growing trend around Europe, having started in Germany because of the influence of American military bases there.

"When I started the event six years ago, I thought it would work for a year or two, but it has just kept on growing. Last year we counted 5,000 attendees," said Yves. That's a big crowd for a town such as Auboué, which has a population of only 5,454.

Muller views le country's popularity as a reaction to the times we live in. "French people are looking for ways to escape the stress of our modern, isolated lives and congregate, as a community. Like we used to in France, for example, after the grape-harvesting."

So why don't the French look to revive traditional French community events? "The costumes aren't as much fun," he said. "And even if le country is not technically our culture, we grew up watching Westerns and playing cowboys and Indians. America is our dream, too."
I'll be dipped! Much more by following the link.

[Listening to: Old Dogs - Bobby Bare - Old Dogs (02:55)]