Last weekend, my family took a short trip to the Dallas and Fort Worth area. We had plans for Friday night, but Saturday was open so I looked around online for ideas. One of the best reviewed family events I found was the Stockyards Championship Rodeo in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards.
Authentic Texas roots
It’s been nearly 100 years since the world’s first indoor rodeo was held in the historic Coliseum at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Today, the Stockyards Championship Rodeo is held in the same building every Friday and Saturday night.
Today’s rodeo gives visitors a taste of Fort Worth’s history and heritage, by bringing forth an event that heralds back to the days when this part of Texas was the most productive cattle processing facility in the world. After World War II, and the decline of the nation’s dependence on railroads for the transport of beef, the prominence of the Fort Worth Stockyards faded, but the rodeo and other Western-style entertainment lives on.
A comfortable atmosphere
One of the cool things about the Stockyards Championship Rodeo, literally, is the fact that it is completely climate controlled. The nicely air conditioned building is a refuge from the sweltering summer heat your family may face at other summer events. Visiting in the winter? Don’t worry, it’s heated then, too.
Fun for the whole family
Although there are lots of bars and saloons in the Fort Worth Stockyards district, the Stockyards Championship Rodeo really is a family friendly event. There were lots of kids in the audience, and everyone seemed to be having a great time.
My older two kids were able to participate in a calf scramble, in which kids ages 8 to 12 lined up in the middle of the arena awaiting the release of a single calf. This calf, decorated with a single strip of tape in the middle of its back, then ran like crazy as the kids all gave chase, trying to be the one to grab the tape and win a prize. Kids ages 7 and under could participate in a mutton scramble, which worked about the same way, but with a sheep instead of a calf.
Things to consider
The rodeo lasts about two hours, but you’ll want to arrive early if you plan to find a good seat. According to the attendant I spoke to, general admission rarely sells completely out, but it was hard to find more than two or three seats together after the rodeo began.
Box seats are an option, as they’ll give you a reserved seat close to the action for just a few dollars more. Box seating also gives visitors a little extra elbow and leg room.
Some of the visitors will be dressed in boots and hats, but lots of others won’t. Don’t let your lack of cowboy gear keep you from enjoying rodeo fun. Do, however, make sure your kids are wearing shoes they can run in easily if they’ll be taking part in the calf or mutton scramble.
Concessions are available, and there are vendors who sell programs and light up souvenirs for the kids. The box office takes credit cards, but make sure to bring extra cash if you think you might want cotton candy or a drink. Also, don’t forget to bring a few dollars for parking, because you’ll have to pay if you’re going to park close to the Coliseum on a Friday or Saturday night.
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