Fort Worth prides itself on its cowboys and culture.
But the real estate website Estately says the cowboys part is winning out.
In a survey released Wednesday, Estately rated Fort Worth as the most country city in America.
Some cities might see that as a backhanded compliment, but to Hub Baker, executive director of Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards, it’s high praise.
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“Amen, brother,” Baker said. “Hell, yes. That’s why our crowds are building — because we’re Cowtown, man, and that’s what people want to see.”
In this latest list, undoubtedly designed to drive traffic to Estately’s website, the findings were based on the percentage of Facebook users in the 50 largest U.S. cities.
The survey looked for those who listed the following as interests: country music, fishing, hunting, NASCAR, firearms, barbecue, cowboy boots, rodeos, sweet tea and pickups.
Fort Worth came in first for pickups — as in trucks — second for cowboy boots, third for rodeo and fourth for sweet tea.
Arlington, where the Academy of Country Music will hold its awards show next year at AT&T Stadium, ranked 11th.
San Antonio ranked second, El Paso fifth, Houston 16th and Austin 17th.
Dallas — despite J.R. Ewing — was ranked the lowest of any Texas city, in 26th place.
Nationally, San Francisco ranked at the bottom of the list. Not a big surprise.
But Fort Worth, which is home to Texas Motor Speedway and its “Big Hoss TV,” as well as Billy Bob’s Texas and Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic, certainly fits the bill.
“Hey, I love my NASCAR, barbecue and country music, and we’re darn proud of our Western roots,” Mayor Betsy Price said. “It’s those roots, and our pioneering spirit, that’s made Fort Worth the world-class city it is today. Yeah, we’re proud to be home to the biggest honky-tonk in the world, but we are hip, we are classy, we are authentic!”
At Cowtown Coliseum, which stages rodeos regularly, Baker said his patrons love all the things mentioned on that list.
“We’re proud of our heritage, and we have something nobody else in Texas has. So why would we want to get away from that?” Baker said.
Fort Worth Councilman Sal Espino, who represents the north side and the Stockyards, said he has no problem saying Fort Worth is country.
“Listening to George Strait is not bad, and the Stockyards are a great draw in our city,” Espino said
But he said his definition of country is a little broader and includes Tejano culture.
“If country means we like to wear boots and your word is your bond, I’m OK with that,” Espino said.
Former Councilman Jim Lane, who represented the same district as Espino, likes to brag that he hasn’t owned a pair of shoes since he left the Army. (He’s also known to have helmet hair from wearing his cowboy hat jammed down on his head all the time.)
When he traveled to other countries as a councilman, Lane always played up Fort Worth’s Western background.
“Every great city has a personality,” Lane said. “Fort Worth has always been Cowtown.”
But he said the people behind the survey, had they simply looked, would have found that many Fort Worth residents also love Bass Hall and the city’s museums.
“They left out the culture part,” Lane said.
Boots and the Colonial
At M.L Leddy’s, where everyone from CEOs to working cowboys waits more than a year for handmade boots that fetch from $795 to “the sky’s the limit,” the news wasn’t a surprise.
“I would certainly confirm all of the items on that list are big in Fort Worth,” said Mark Dunlap, general manager of Leddy’s.
Just this weekend, Dunlap said, the CEO of a large wealth management company came to Leddy’s while in town for the Final Four.
“He was told, ‘When you come to Fort Worth, go play Colonial and get a pair of handmade boots,’ ” Dunlap said. “He didn’t have time to play Colonial, but he came by here and got measured for a pair of boots.”
Not shying away from its cowboy past has helped Fort Worth.
“I think we should take it as a compliment,” Dunlap said.
But the reaction was a little different 30 miles east.
One Dallas publication didn’t seem too concerned about Big D’s low ranking.
The Dallas Observer’s Unfair Park blog noted that Dallas fared poorly in this survey as well as a recent one about the most attractive cities to hipsters.
“We’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not this is something to celebrate. But there is definitely something special about a place that’s equally unattractive to both NASCAR fans and hipsters.”