What's a picturesque hamlet to do to attract visitors to its doorstep? If there's any place in Alberta that punches above its weight, it's Rosebud, (population about 100) nestled in the heart of Wheatland County with the Badlands and Drumheller to the east, and Calgary to the west.
While there are many such quaint spots dotting the map--surrounded by rolling fields of golden wheat, maybe a small river winding through and a hulking grain elevator cutting into the skyline, this sleepy locale has that going for it, but a whole lot more too. Feel like an evening of thought-provoking and engaging professional theatre? What about a cozy stay in an English country manor-type bed and breakfast?
Cory and Kari Eliuk run Banks & Braes B & B in Rosebud, a new-build family home fashioned in the style of an old country manor, with Scottish touches (fabrics, high-end finishes) throughout and impressive woods, artwork and luxurious furnishings all around; the meandering Rosebud River and the Badlands at its doorstep. It's only 25 kilometres to Drumheller from here--and an hour drive to Calgary. The Eliuks open their themed rooms to guests year-round, drawing mostly from the theatre crowd that descends by the hundreds for musicals and plays at the well-known Rosebud Theatre.
"Visitors tend to go west, to Banff and the mountains. If they drive east to Drumheller, they check that off the list and say they've done Alberta," said Cory, whose passion for his home and the entire hamlet is evident as he chats with theatre-goers near show time, offering tours of the four developed and another five work-in-progress bedrooms, and explaining his vision for the elegant, yet cozy guest house. He's just as enthusiastic about presenting the waffles, homemade jams and spreads served up to guests at the morning meal.
"We settled here because we saw the like-minded efforts in the community to keep it growing; expanding the arts focus and ways to draw more visitors to this beautiful place," said Cory.
It's the same way at Rosebud Country Inn, a big, bright and cheery B & B offering an afternoon slice of homemade pie at the cozy Pie Shoppe. We took a quiet moment on a Saturday afternoon visit to enjoy a cup of coffee and pecan pie; the strawberry-rhubarb looked just as tempting.
Rosebud displays its charms to the fullest during theatre season, when a musical or heart-warming play takes over the opera house, steps from the Mercantile and delicious buffet dinner that comes with every show ticket. It's the theatre students that are servers, ticket takers and entertainers here; enthusiastic artists-in-training who are in residence at the Rosebud School of the Arts. Each season of family-friendly shows includes professional productions and student performances, running in all but a couple of winter's coldest months.
While summers in Rosebud include lively outdoor musical entertainment, autumn is enticing too--just in a quieter way. Falling leaves dot the main street and while some venues are shut for the season, visitors can still do a self-guided walking tour of Rosebud's history--arts and sports and the railway, first hotel, butcher shop, post office and community hall.
At the opera house stage this fall, a great family show, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe runs through Dec 23. Almost, Maine; a student-led showcase of nine-short stories set at Christmas is also on the roster. See rosebudtheatre.com for details.
A holiday-time visit with family and friends sounds like a perfectly wonderful way to celebrate the season, doesn't it? And enjoying a show that includes a lovely meal and perhaps, a stay at a cozy, local B & B...what could be better?
Did you know?
Rosebud sits in a sheltered valley in an area that was called Akokiniskway by the Blackfoot people, which translates roughly to "by the river of many roses".