Saddle Up

And just what is so cool about...oh, say, a dairy goat display? Or a sheep arena? Or "Junior Heifer registration?" Believe it or not, kids, history is cool. That people today seem willing to free-fall through life with no sense of where they came from is one of the most dismal trends of the past decade. Seems too many indigenous young folk would like to forget the western legacy of this region, as though our forefathers were just kidding around with all that cattle-driving and horse-breaking and the like. Never mind that the best chunk of North Texas backbone was carved out of the very real toil of ranching and cattle drives, that the generations before us put our current work ethic to shame.

Sure, today's era of technology and stocks and real estate has nearly buried our history. But that only makes the ongoing Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo a tradition more valuable each year; it's the region's only large-scale reminder of what generations used to value and how our great-uncles used to live. Once upon a time, this was the grand display of the fruits of labor: the sharpest ropers and heaviest hogs, the fastest quarter horses and meanest bulls. And the unexpected beauty of it all? At the Stock Show, you see legions who still live this way, and not out of affectation but necessity. Believe it or not, that T-bone you ate at Nick & Sam's last Friday night came from somewhere, and you just might come face-to-face with the breeder of that steak in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

There are still plenty of ranches and cowboys in Texas, and while they're normally sweating and cutting and branding outside city limits, they come in droves to Fort Worth this time of year. Young people still adhering to the hopes and regimens of the 4-H club; real-deal rodeo stars risking bones and ligaments for the thrill of seven-second glory on a very angry bronco; prize-winning Brahma breeders who know more about the science of life than you'll ever know. Paint horses perform, llamas stand at attention for judges, ranch hands stage a real roundup. It all kicks off January 19, runs through February 6, and most every day of the schedule is packed with the kind of events that evoke a glorious tradition. The best way to get the lowdown is to visit the Stock Show's Web site, See y'all there.

Christina Rees

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Christina Rees