Except of course, that it is. Today I’ve taken the TRE train an hour West of Dallas to Fort Worth to hit up The Stockyards.When planning my American adventure, I had one pre-requisite in mind for Texas. Gotta get me a rodeo.
After much investigation, this meant a stop off at Fort Worth. Rodeo season in Texas is usually April and early May, meaning I well and truly missed it-my saving grace being that the little town of Fort Worth has something on every Friday and Saturday night at the historic stockyards.
The train drives through the rain, and I get invited to be some guys date at a wedding he’s going to later; but I politely decline. As much as I’d love to be a wedding crasher; I have a RODEO to watch y’all.
I get to my hotel early afternoon, and quickly change into denim and cowboy boots, then head straight for The Stockyards.
I arrive just before 4pm. It’s like going back in time to a snapshot of the Wild West, and sandy stoned fort like buildings make up the yards which started life as a livestock exchange. There’s all manner of cowboy attractions and eateries, a museum and visitors centre, and people are queuing up along the road for the 4pm cattle drive. At five past it begins, and cowboys on horses steer huge longhorn cows from one end of Exchange Avenue to the other.
Following this, punters flock the old Stockyard station to watch a rootin’ tootin’ Wild West gun fight display.
After everybody’s been shot, I get cowboy fever, and climb onto a hefty looking longhorn myself to have my picture taken (I called him Trevor-obvs). Feeling peckish I then then eat a giant steak (possibly Trevor’s brother?) and drink beer before picking up my ticket for the Cow Town Colosseum Rodeo.
Inside the arena the stalls are packed out tonight. A gentleman cowboy on a white horse rides the U.S. flag out, and we all stand and sing the star spangled banner before the show begins.
The show opens with a lasso artist spinning it around him and his steed as he stands atop of it.
Next up, Cowboys compete to capture a calf. They chase it, lasso it’s neck, jump down off their horse, flip the calf WWF style, then tie their hooves. All in under 10 seconds. Mightily impressive.
Bucking Broncos come next, meaning wild horses try and flip their rider off as they cling on furiously. It’s buckaroo in real life as these cowboys go flying to the ground, and I gasp as they nearly get trampled.
I’m especially pleased when the Cowgirls come out, racing around, and I’m overcome with a burning desire to learn to ride horses and wield a rope.
There’s Calf and Mutton Busting-where kids can come into the arena and chase a calf or a ram to liberate a piece of duct tape stuck to their backs. some participants are as young as 5 and are tiny. They’re fearless, but even I wouldn’t fancy my chances at capture. Crazy.
Finally there’s a double lasso event, and more buckaroo-and the Rodeo Clowns flap about wildly-as it’s their job to untie calves and distract the bulls so they don’t kill their thrown riders.
Two hours fly by, and suddenly it’s all over. We peel off into the evening, the smell of manure in the air, and a live band plays us out with some Johnny Cash.
Well, after much planning and anticipation, I’ve lost my rodeo virginity, and I have to say, I mightily enjoyed it. They say you never forget your first time; I certainly won’t be doing-and I go to bed very satisfied indeed.