Historic Fort Worth Stockyards and February Rodeo by Bonnie and Bill Neely

One of the most interesting places in Texas is the Fort Worth Historic Stockyards, an area you’ll find much entertainment for the entire family. It’s a great way to spend a few hours while waiting between planes, or a half day for family fun, or a Sunday afternoon if you live nearby and just want something different. Historically, this area was where the Texas cattle drives ended and the cattle were sold at auction and loaded into trains to go to slaughter in the meat packing companies in Chicago. Later Armor and Swift built the packing houses here and for generations this was the BEEF capital.

Now this National Historic Site is a huge open-air museum, where you can see a real cattle drive at 11AM and 4 PM, with real cowboys on horses driving longhorn steers down the main street and up the ramps. The train even chugs through. Kids will love seeing all the entertainment, along with midway rides. You’ll find a Western history museum with covered wagons and informative displays.
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The numerous unique shops along the historic streets look like old saloons, and you will find several of those also. You’ll find Old West and cowboy gifts and souvenirs of all kinds, which you’ll find almost nowhere else. Be sure to go into Windy Ryan’s, the famous store for all western wear needs; fascinating if you didn’t grow up on a ranch where all this gear is a necessity.
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You can stay in the historic old hotel or just wander through to see the hide covered chairs and mounted trophies in the saloon and read the Western history ledgers. If you’re brave and in good health, you can try to ride the mechanical bull and almost surely get bucked off. Or you may choose to lose your way in the giant maze of cattle gates, or just watch from above while others make their way giggling. You’ll find excellent restaurants of many varieties of Western and Southwestern cuisine and some of the best steaks and bar-b-que in the world, but beware if anyone offers you “calf fries,” a delicacy to many a cowboy!

Make arrangements to attend the famous Rodeo and Fort Worth Livestock Show, which is in mid January and early February each year. The glitzey rodeo in the Coliseum attracts world class participants and offers wonderful entertainment. If you’re prone to hayfever, take an allergy pill before you go. The Livestock Show is fun and educational and includes events for every animal lover. A variety of shows are included annually so check the schedule and plan your events according to your interests.