Mansfield’s rich history as a bull riding and barrel racing mecca will take center stage at this year’s St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade & Palooza on Friday and Saturday.
The World’s Only St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade will honor the Kowbell Rodeo & Arena with the theme “Need More Kowbell.” The sixth annual event is expected to draw 35,000 to 45,000 people to downtown Mansfield with 10-time Grammy award winners Asleep at the Wheel headlining the show at 6 p.m.
“When we tell anybody that we have Asleep at the Wheel, they are just blown away,” said John Pressley, president of the Pickled Mansfield Society, which produces the event. “They cannot believe Asleep at the Wheel is coming to Mansfield, Texas, for a free concert. The response is just amazing.”
The band’s Texas-inspired hits, Miles and Miles of Texas, Big Ball’s in Cowtown and Get your Kicks on Route 66, fit perfectly with the western theme, Pressley said.
As does rising Nashville star Coffey Anderson, who will perform at 2:30 p.m. Asleep at the Wheel and Anderson will be on the Best Maid stage at Main and Oak streets.
There will be also be three wild west shootout performances by ShenaniGuns Comedy Wild West Show, similar to the ShenaniGuns show at Six Flags Over Texas, but adapted for the road.
“They bring out an 18-wheeler that converts into a western downtown,” Pressley said. “They’ll have wild west shootouts for the kids.”
The food court will have 28 vendors selling everything from Fletcher’s Corny Dogs to lobster rolls, and there will be 100 retail vendors lining Main Street.
Children can jump in a bounce house, get their face painted, make crafts, ride a miniature train or watch the pet parade at noon.
Pickle Queen Paulette Uzee-Ciesynski has been busy traveling to elementary schools teaching second-graders about Mansfield’s rodeo past, which harkens back to a time that’s almost been erased by progress.
For 45 years, the old Kowbell arena was the center of life in Mansfield with rodeos every Saturday night and special events throughout the week.
That piece of Mansfield history met the wrecking ball in 2004 and is now the site of Legacy High School.
The Ratjen family, descendents of Kowbell founder Bill Hogg and his successor Jack Ratjen, will be the grand marshals for the World’s Only St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade at 1 p.m.
Officials are anticipating about 100 entries into this year’s parade, including the State Fair of Texas and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, but everyone anticipates the finale when the pickle royalty arrive.
First you have the Queen Mums, the mothers of the Pickle Queens, then the Pickle Princesses, the offspring of the queens, and finally, the 14 Pickle Queens arrive with their Pickle Protectors, or husbands and family members.
“It’s kind of like Santa Claus being at the end of the Christmas parade, well, you have the Pickle Queens bring up the end of the Pickle Parade,” Uzee-Ciesynski said.
The fun actually starts the night before with a free showing of John Wayne’s 1948 film Red River at the Farr Best Theater 7 p.m. Friday. And things getted started early Saturday with the Pickle 10k, 5k and Kids K, stepping out at 8 a.m. from St. Jude Catholic Church.
The Pickled Mansfield Society receives funds from the Mansfield hotel/motel tax to put on the event. The non-profit group got an extra allocation of $20,000 to bring Asleep at the Wheel to town.
“The city is a big sponsor of our event and has been for the six years we’ve been putting it on,” Pressley said.
Admission is free and the city will close Main Street from Pleasant Ridge Drive to Broad Street so people can park for free on the street. Parking is also available R.L. Anderson Stadium, Alice Ponder Elementary and Worley Middle School. Visit pickleparade.org for more information.
St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade & Palooza
7 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday
100 N. Main St.