Fort Worth proudly wears the title of Cowtown – After the Civil War there were millions of longhorn cattle roaming the Texas plains. Most of the country’s economy was devastated these Longhorns were a value resource for Texas. For over two decades, Longhorns were rounded up and driven north to Kansas to be railed across the country. During this period over six million longhorns made the three month journey north – each head commanded about $40.00 in the Northeast. Fort Worth benefited greatly as it was the last place for drovers to purchase supplies prior to their 500 mile journey north. These cowboys use the, now historic, Chisholm Trail (which will be a subject for a future entry) to drive the cattle overland to Kansas.
The first Stock Show took place in March of 1896. The second on October 12-13 of the same year. It was opened by the first Stock Show Parade. In 1901 it was renamed: Texas Fat Stock Show. The first rodeo event occurred in 1904 when Bill Pickett “The Dusty Demon” demonstrated his bulldogging (steer wrestling) act. Pickett invented bulldogging when an angry cow tried to gore his horse – according to Bill, he jumped on the cow and twisted its neck until it fell to the ground. This gave birth to one of the most popular events in today rodeo arenas. Bill Pickett is know as Americas first black cowboy and was the first black cowboy elected to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Note: While in Fort Worth be sure and visit the statue of “The Dusty Demon” in the Fort Worth Stockyards.
The rodeo was added to the then Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show in 1918 at the Northside Coliseum becoming the first indoor rodeo event – it was an instant success. The feature events were Ladies’ Bucking Bronco, Junior Steer Riding, Men’s Steer Riding, and Men’s Bucking Bronco. In 1944 the Stock Show was moved to it’s current location, the Will Rogers Memorial Center. That year Gene Autry became the first entertainer to appear at the rodeo. In 1958, the rodeo was the first one in the nation to receive complete live coverage on national TV. It was hosted by Roy Rogers and Dale Evens on NBC-TV.
Over the years, many barns, buildings and exhibit halls have been built on the site. Each year 4-H members show their award winning live stock. The Rodeo remains one of the best in the nation. In 2012 the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo broke an all time attendance record. During it 23 day run more than 1,186,000 folks visited the show. My granddaughter and I were 2 of those people (we have a pink cowgirl hat to prove it).
A visit to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is a must – it is a great time for people of all ages. During a visit you will see prize winning livestock raised by some of the nicest young boy and girls you will ever meet. There are many interesting exhibits, competitions, of course THE RODEO; the ever popular midway, and last but not least – FOOD – corn dogs, turkey legs, funnel cakes, BBQ, nachos, and any thing you could ever think of frying is there!
THE FORT WORTH STOCK SHOW AND RODEO is an event to be share with the whole family.
It’s the broncs and the blood – It’s the steers and the mud – And they call the thing rodeo….RODEO by Larry Bastian