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Annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo
This thing is legendary
As the slogan goes... this thing is legendary. The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, founded in 1896, is one of the biggest festivals of its type in the United States. Typically running about four weeks from mid-January to early February, the Stock Show features thousands of events, exhibits, vendors, performances, carnival rides, and yes... farm animals. Lots and lots of farm animals. Fort Worth made its reputation as a ranching town, and in this annual event, visitors can learn a lot about the history and heritage of the city they call "Cowtown."
Rodeo competitions are one of the most popular events at the Fort Worth Stock and Rodeo, and they occur nightly. Over 1,200 competitors assemble each year for 30 nights of competition in the following events:
- Bull riding
- Steer wrestling
- Bareback riding
- Barrel racing
- Team roping
- Saddle bronc riding
- Tie roping
and for our littlest wranglers... the Calf Scramble!
There's always a show. Most nights, visitors can see the "World's Original Indoor Rodeo", but there are also a few nights of special events, including the "Best of the West" Invitational Ranch Rodeo, the "Best of Mexico Celebracion", and "Bull's Night Out", an event dedicated entirely to bull riding. Purchase of a ticket also buys your way into the rest of the stock show.
Bull Riding at the 2011 Fort Worth Stock Show
In addition to the daily rodeos, those seeking entertainment may want to check out live bands at the Stock Show's two performance stages. There's also a children's magic show presented daily as part of the educational exhibit "Planet Agriculture."
The Stock Show: A place to see prize farm animals
The Fort Worth Stock Show began in 1896 as a way to display Fort Worth cattle to northern meat packing companies. Since then, it has become the premiere showcase of the best livestock raised throughout the state. Acres of pens featuring every kind of animal are open each day, and there are daily events in which farmers present their best animals to win ribbons and cash prizes. The following photograph shows the schedule of events for a typical day.
There are several animal displays that provide educational opportunities for children to observe animals up close and interact with them. The following photograph shows the petting zoo, a large sheltered pen that children may enter for free as they get up close and personal with goats, rabbits, chickens, sheep, and even two magnificent llamas. There's no cost to pet the animals, but they do charge $1.00 for a cup of feed. Kudos to the staff for a clever means of providing the cups; they scoop the feed into ice cream cones. The livestock eat both the feed and the cone, leaving no mess and delighting the children.
Another educational exhibit giving children the chance to see animals up close is the FFA Children's Barnyard, where baby animals are displayed being cared for by their mothers. During our most recent visit, we saw pigs, chicks, ducks, donkeys, sheep, and even one feisty turkey.
The Stock Show even features a milking parlor. Every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., local milk farmers show visitors every step of milk production from the cow's udder to the dairy, the supermarket, and to the family refrigerator.
The Best and Worst Deals at the Stock Show
At $10 for an adult ticket and $5 per child, the Stock Show presents a great value for a day's worth of entertainment. This great deal is made even better because admission to the Stock Show also gets you entrance into three nearby museums:
- Museum of Science and History
- Cattle Raiser's Museum
- Texas Cowgirl Museum
However, a day at the Stock Show also features some attractions that seem to be a bit overpriced. A couple of recommendations:
- A ticket allows you to come in and out of the Stock Show throughout the day. Skip the food court and go eat at one of the many other fine restaurants in the Fort Worth Cultural District, or eat before you come. Even the many concession stands charge $3.00 for a small soda or a bottle of water. When we visited, we were quite chagrined to find that several of the water fountains did not work.
- The carnival midway looks very inviting, but during our visit we noticed that virtually nobody was riding the rides. Even the simplest kiddie rides required three tickets, and tickets ran $1:00 apiece, so you are looking at paying $3:00 per person for a spin on a kiddie ride that lasts less than a minute. Given that the Fort Worth Stock Show is located about 20 miles from Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, there's probably more cost-effective ways for thrill ride fans to get their fix.