To the neophyte of Texas culture, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo was a veritable smorgasbord of sight, sound — and smell.
For the strong of heart, the bucking broncs desperately trying to relieve themselves of their dauntless riders was nothing short of a thrill.
For the strong of stomach, the pungent aroma of the cattle barns did not deter a stroll through the stalls — although visitors were wise to watch where they stepped — while reviewing the 11,000 magnificent farm creatures displayed by their proud young handlers as part of the junior livestock shows.
Even perennial patrons were likely to uncover something novel.
This year that might have been when Amber L’Heureux, 20, of Glaslyn, Saskatchewan, shot another crack through the proverbial glass ceiling by becoming the first woman in the Stock Show’s 118 years to participate in the chuck wagon racing competition.
Or perhaps it was the audacity of the crimson-clad, 70-member Women Steering Business of Fort Worth group, which came to play with the good ol’ boys at Saturday’s annual Junior Sale of Champions, spending more than $100,000 as part of the Stock Show Syndicate.
The sale, which helps raise scholarship money for youngsters who display livestock at the show, shattered last year’s record, bringing in a total of $3,305,919.
All told, 1,137,100 spectators stepped onto Stock Show grounds during the event’s 23 days.
Some participants left with distinction, like the father-son duo Cody and Rusty Wright, who were champion and runner-up in saddle bronc riding.
Others — like Flint Newman, the Stanton High School senior who took top money for his grand champion steer — left with the financial security that a $200,000 winning can provide.
And one young man, Wyatt Blaylock, who did not surpass his winnings from 2013, when Syndicate members pitched in to purchase his 10th-place steer as a show of support for a young man who had weathered his father’s death and persisted in raising his show steer, left with no regrets. Instead, he is looking forward to the next show ring.
And since Blaylock and his contemporaries exhibit the true meaning of the Stock Show, we are looking forward to next year as well.