In his 10 years riding with the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse in countless rodeo parades, Steven Finch hasn’t found any that are more rich with Western heritage than the annual Stock Show parade.
“We ride in Fort Worth, Abilene and San Angelo,” said Finch, the posse’s captain. “There are a lot more horses in Fort Worth, and a lot of horse-drawn wagons.”
Fact is, everyone in the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo All Western Parade who isn’t on a horse or in something being pulled by horses had better be walking. Nothing with a motor is allowed. And there’s no such thing as too many horses in Fort Worth’s parade, which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday in downtown Fort Worth.
Among the more than 200 entries are about 90 riding clubs and 60 horse-drawn entries, said Stock Show spokeswoman Shanna Weaver.
“We’re expecting more than 2,000 horses,” Weaver said. “That’s a pretty conservative estimate.”
There also will be eight marching bands, Weaver said. First heard will be TCU. Six other bands will be from Fort Worth schools. But the one that traveled farthest to be here will be the Zacatecas State Symphonic and Marching Band from Zacatecas, Mexico.
The parade typically takes 90 minutes or so to pass any given point on its 18-block route down Main Street from the Tarrant County Courthouse and back up Houston Street, Weaver said.
Good weather should bring out more than 100,000 spectators, Weaver said. From 9 to 10:45 a.m., there are lots of family-oriented attractions like face painters and balloon artists on Sundance Square Plaza. Those who are in Sundance Square when the parade starts will be able to keep up with what’s going on.
“The parade announcers — Marc Fine at NBC 5 and Steve Lamb of WBAP — will be on Sundance Square Plaza at the judges’ stand, close to the intersection of Main and 3rd,” Weaver said.
But no matter what happens, the focus of this parade is the horses.
One of the reasons Parker County took first place among sheriff’s posses riding in the 2013 parade is that they brought more than five dozen horses, said posse member Bob Glenn.
“It isn’t just a numbers thing, but the more horses you have the more impressive the group is,” Glenn said. “If you get out there with 75 riders in white shirts and bluejean jackets, you’re really impressive.”
One posse member each year is designated the wrangler to round up riders and get them to the parade, Glenn said.
“I think we’ll have at least 60 this year,” Glenn said.
Proving that winning’s possible with a lot fewer horses, Ghost Riders Rodeo Drill Team — in their first Fort Worth appearance — took last year’s riding club trophy with only a couple dozen.
These women come from such tiny Texas towns as Athens, Van and Jamestown, and bigger ones like Tyler, Longview and Fort Worth. There’s even one from South Africa and two from Germany. But what they all have in common is talent enough to impress a crowd.
“The girls’ attitude now that they’ve won it once is they fully intend to do it again,” said the team’s managing director, Gary Bonner. “They have glitter on the horses. Most of the riders will be carrying Texas flags.”
And this year, they’re coming with 26 riders, Bonner said.
“If they don’t win, it won’t be because they didn’t try,” he said.
IF YOU GO
The All Western Parade, the official kickoff to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, begins at 11 a.m. in downtown Fort Worth.