Sunday, May 12, 2013

Western Heritage Classic – Abilene, Texas – Episode 1

We did not really know what we were in for when Shelley made RV reservations at the Taylor County Texas Expo Center to attend the Western Heritage Classic. We found out that we were in for a good time – Texas style. Both the participants and the attendees (we being the exception) are serious ranch people. They have cattle and some of the smartest and most well trained horses to work the cattle and dogs, lots of dogs. We were in one of the few “regular” Rvs. People that camped – and there were hundreds of them - were mostly in horse trailers where the front part is RV and the aft area is for the horses. The event is attended by literally thousands of people.

This was the 27th year of this 3 day event. Activities are designed to embrace the essence of the cowboy lifestyle. The showcase event is the Ranch Rodeo but also included were the world's largest bit and spur show, a chuck wagon cook-off, matched horse races, children's rodeo, cowboy poet/singers, western artisans, a fiddlers contest, ranch horse and cowdog clinics and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. I can't write about each event so have chosen the Bit and Spur Show, the Chuck Wagon Cook-off and the Matched Races for this blog. (The Ranch Rodeo will be addressed in a separate blog entry).

Bit and Spur Show (and Western Collectibles)

Now, we had no idea what a bit and spur show was and how something like that could be the “world's largest”. Now we know. 2 huge buildings filled with bits and spurs and saddles and lassos and chaps and all things cowboy – even a few six-shooters. The prices on the the spurs was astronomical. These are not things to be worn but to be put in the safe or safety deposit box. I saw some $275 spurs but also some $1,275. Saddles – who knew - $6,000? There were lots of $6,000 saddles for sale – don't know if any sold but they were there. I wish I had taken more pictures at the show as many of these spurs and bits really were works of art.

Chuck Wagon Cook-off

Chuck wagons were judged on authenticity of their wagon and prepared food. I did not count how many teams there were but at least a dozen – probably more. They set up on Friday and the authenticity judging was done the. Saturday morning the competition cooking started. Every team cooked the exact same meal – country fried steak, gravy, beans, fried potatoes and onions, rolls, and cobbler. We were able to get tickets to eat these fine vittles (got that? Vittles) and from looking around at everyone's plates you could see that although the menu was the same at each wagon – the food was different in many regards. My guess is that they served about 800 meals and everyone was happy and no one went away hungry.

Carla Hall (on our left) from Top Chef and The Chew

Carla Hall (on our left) from Top Chef and The Chew
if you have ever seen her on TV - this is totally her personality.
They were making cobbler but talking about cooking beans
and the cook was saying how they lay out the beans and count them and
it must be 239 beans per batch - not 240 (she was serious)

Matched Horse Races

The races were to start at 4pm. The crowd started gathering at 2 and by 3 we were packed in like the proverbial sardines – they said that there were 3,500 there – all trying to see a very short straight race track. The horses, mostly quarter horses I guess, run 2 at a time. However they are not really matched against each other but they run against the clock. I'm not sure how many pairs there were – at least 14 or 15 – and the top 8 times then run heats for the win. Each pair of horses walk the length of the track, when they get just past the starting line (so they are facing away from the way they will run), the judge drops the flag, the horses turn as fast as they can and haul ass and everyone screams and spills their beer and pops another top. We could only see the start and about half of the track, once they passed us – we had no idea what happened and the loud-speaker system of course went on the fritz. But, it was definitely fun.

Parade the Colors
"Six White Horses"
They had amazing blue eyes.

A few pictures from the Expo grounds:

I cannot control 2 smallish dogs when walking them on a leash.
The Clydesdales are amazing.

Clydesdales perform at the rodeo

Texas Hood Ornament


On to the Ranch Rodeo...


Pat and Sheryl P. said...

Great beginning blog !!! Looks like you guys not only had fun but were pleasantly surprised ! Fanatastic pics and keep on having fun !!

~Cheryl said...

That's quite the event. I'm tickled you got a photo of the hood ornament!