Trucks and trailers hauling animals for the Junior Livestock Show began drifting into Cowtown on Monday, with families settling in on the parking lot east of Farrington Field to await Tuesday morning’s start of an annual grand dance.
“We got to Fort Worth about 3:30 [Monday] afternoon,” said Ryan Jeffrey, 42 of Sweetwater. “We were in the 16th row, with about 120 trailers in front of us.”
By noon Tuesday, Jeffrey had gotten his daughter’s and son’s Herefords and Charolais cattle settled into their stalls in Cattle Barn No. 2. He had a headache from sleeping in his truck’s cab. Around him fellow parents, ag teachers and other adults who took responsibility for getting young 4-H and FFA students’ projects to the Fort Worth Stock Show were in similar conditions. Hundreds of others were either still moving in tons of tack, feed, steers and pigs, or waiting to steer their trucks through the Stock Show’s southern gates.
At Gate 42, Fort Worth police Sgt. Scott Keenum held up a hand to stop westbound Trail Drive traffic as he waved the other to signal yet another stock trailer-pulling pickup into one of three entry lanes.
“This is a dance, and you’ve gotta know all the moves,” Keenum said. “It’s a very fluid motion of a lot of moving parts.”
The Stock Show looks forward to seeing all these kids every year, said Billy Samuel, a retired Fort Worth police officer who oversees the police officers and the event staff at the Stock Show.
“The kids look at this as an opportunity to show off their hard work and, hopefully, win a class,” Samuel said. “They’re on a time frame from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., so it’s a must that the police provide a safe and reasonably quick entry into the grounds.”
When the parking lot at Farrington Field filled up Monday evening, the officers began directing arrivals to the “blue lot,” a large space just south of the Museum of Science and History, Keenum said. The first priority Tuesday was to empty the Farrington Field lot so traffic on University Drive would no longer be affected. That was done by 10 a.m. But trucks and trailers were still pouring into the blue lot about 1 p.m.
“We just get them into the line,” said Keenum, whose regular duty is supervising the west side patrol’s midnight shift. “We’ll fill and empty the lot several times before it’s over. And we’ll go to about 6, 7 or 8 o’clock tonight, well over 24 hours since it started.”
About the time Keenum was thinking about what he’d have for lunch, Clint Catching, 42, of Howe and his 13-year-old daughter, Kindle, were catching their breath in Cattle Barn No. 3. The steers — two shorthorns, one angus and one exotic — they’d hauled a little more than 80 miles from the town just south of Sherman were peacefully chewing hay.
Kindle’s eyes were glazed; she’d had to scrunch up in the passenger’s seat as her dad stretched out in his truck’s cab to sleep Monday night.
“We were unloaded by 10:30 this morning,” Clint Catching said. “It went pretty smooth for us. The police officers did a good job.”