Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fort Worth Stock Show

Today I attended the city wide gathering of cowboy boots and ten gallon hats. Originally, I wanted to open with a sarcastic statement, but on second thought, it's probably true.

Today I went to the Fort Worth Stock Show with my dad. Located in the heart of the cultural district, the stock show is a three week event where ranchers and agricultural enthusiasts buy and trade and award different animals and their respective owners. And I know that doesn't sound particularly interesting, but from as long as I can remember, it's been an semi-annual event that I've attended as a child. It's been a few years since I've been to the stock show because I've been away at college, but it was odd how well I remembered certain buildings and sections throughout the show grounds. Per tradition, we still parked in the lot across the complex, entered through the crowded goat building past the owners, lanes of cages, countless amount of hay, manure, and of course, goats, where the main hallway is lined with festival foods such as hot dogs, nachos, and freshly squeezed lemonade.

In a lot of respects, the stock show is a family event where kids can learn about Fort Worth's culture and history through educational venues and several rows of live stock and parents can shop for western gear and drink alcohol while their children play on the carnival rides. I hope this post doesn't get flagged; I really do love the stock shows. In fact it would be hard to refute that it's consistently the most memorable part of my childhood. I can still recall fond memories of sitting in one of the main areas watching border collies respond to whistles or gleefully watching horses jump through their courses while eating a cup of warm chili inside a freshly baked bread bowl. It's great. While I was there today, I could still recall the animal arrangements in the petting room with the pigs in the center, calves and other unimpressive livestock on the sides, and the duckling slide and baby chick ferris wheel in the back. To be honest, the mini duckling slide was too busy to visit, and my dad mentioned that the ducklings must have to learn how to swim at a really young age, and I said, "I've never seen a duck drown, but I think that would be one of the most depressing and hilarious things to watch."

To be fair, it's not really a petting room because they're in tall metal cages, but kids still pet them through the bars. And I'm always surprised that kids are entertained by the piglets; I understand the ducklings and chiclets, but the piglets just eat. There was one piglet who was knelling on its front elbows near the food trough as if standing upright required too much effort. I guess it's the short, happy life of a pig.

I should mention that the weather was gorgeous today. Since the festival's in the end of January, the weather can be fairly unpredictable. I think it even snowed last year, but today was sunny with a light breeze so the stock show was particularly busy. The main arena was packed, and it prevented from rekindling my chili bread bowl nostalgia so we opted to look for turkey legs in the carnival ride section outside.

They're all winners in my book... we didn't wait to see who actually won.

I've noticed my dad has a policy to never pass an opportunity to eat a turkey leg. I worry about his health sometimes. Usually turkey legs are paid in coupons at festivals to mask their actual cost, but today's turkey leg was in cash and it cost about the same as an all-you-can-eat buffet. Fortunately, this turkey did not die in vain, it was merely a sacrifice for perfection. Clearly this booth had mastered the art of preparing a turkey leg and PETA has found a new nemesis. It was amazing, the warm meat was moist and the flesh was tender. It was an experience to inhale and savored, a short infinity of bliss. I'm sorry if you're reading this post and vegetarian; I don't want you to feel disgusted and/or jealous.

The stock show had all of the carnival standbys, except the ring of fire. I'm not sure why they didn't have the ring of fire. A while ago, my sister attended a fair and although she's skydived and hang glided 500,000 feet in the air, she mentioned that her attempt to ride all of the carnival rides was easily the dangerous venture that she's ever pursued. Those rides were crazy, especially when you consider the portability and set-up of each ride, the sometimes too tight/too loose harnesses, and the highly qualified ride operator, who is specifically trained in emergency scenarios like a kid being mangled in the zipper or someone falling out of their seat when the spinner goes inverted. Really, what do you expect the ride operator to do besides attempt to frantically stop the ride. We were eating our turkey legs so we weren't able to partake in the life and death brigade's shenanigans. Also, I wasn't able to take any pictures of the potentially short and happy lives of the kids on the elaborate deathtraps. On a lighter note, we watched a girl fumble her way through the mirror maze portion of a fun house, and I came to the conclusion that mirror mazes are a form of oppression.

Afterwards, we ventured through the two conference halls on opposite ends of the grounds. They were packed with booths and venues and people. There were racks of leather jackets with tassels, custom fitted cowboy hats, and boots in all shapes and sizes. Not to be outdone, there were a plethora of tractors with their imposing shovels raised above casual pedestrians like a set-up for a very gruesome Final Destination scene.

The castle where princess Elsie was held captive. On a side note, my dad muttered,
"That cow must be on a lot of drugs to be that sedated."

I'm going to level with you; there were literally tons of cows on the stockyard grounds, but I didn't take any good pictures of the livestock because it felt awkward taking pictures of them with their owners in their pens. After perusing through the concrete grounds and watching the livestock handlers hang out or socialize amongst themselves, you start to realize that the stock show isn't just an event where families can learn about the livestock heritage of the city, but it's a modern day lifestyle. From living in Texas my whole life, I've become accustomed to seudo-cowboys, people who live in big cities, drive trucks, and listen to country music, and it's easy to forget that a 'western' way of life isn't just a romanticized movie genera or a iconic stereotype of Texas, but it's a current generation ranchers, performers, and farmers. And it's nice to have an event that celebrates the past, present, and future of western agriculture.


Now I present random pictures of rabbits since they didn't fit into the context of the blog post.

So many Cadbury Egg suspects!