Try to be patient.
That’s the most important message Paul Davis wants Fort Worth Stock Show guests to get.
In his sixth year managing about 100 people who usher drivers into more than 9,000 spaces on nine parking lots around the Will Rogers Memorial Center, Davis compares the job to a ballet.
“We have to coordinate with all the other entities,” said Davis, a retired Fort Worth police officer.
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Surrounding the Stock Show are the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, the W.E. Scott Theatre, Casa Mañana, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. In addition, the Fort Worth school district’s athletic director has offices at Farrington Field, and other school activities are conducted at Billingsley Field House, a gymnasium that shares a parking lot with the stadium.
Each of those interests is accompanied by its own unique parking needs, and all must be accommodated on some of the lots used by the Stock Show. For instance, Davis said, the first order of business every day is directing Kimbell and Amon Carter employees into spaces in the lot across Lancaster Avenue from the museums, because their parking lots are under construction.
Stock Show guests have even more parking competition from folks on the inside.
“On the inside of the Stock Show, we work with the producers who are bringing in animals for the shows,” Davis said. “We don’t direct traffic on the streets. Those are Fort Worth police officers, either working for the Stock Show during off-duty hours, or working overtime for the city.”
But Davis and his horde of parkers coordinate their efforts with the police officers.
“We let them know when lots fill up and are closed, and when we open them up again,” he said. “We also pull drivers into lots to back-fill when folks leave spaces. The Stock Show office gets all that information, too, so they can update the app.”
Found at fwssr.com, the Stock Show smartphone app is a free application that will, among other things, direct a user to available parking, Davis said.
“We also operate the electronic signs” that notify drivers which lots are open, Davis said. “Our primary job is to make sure our customers get into parking spaces as quickly and easily as possible.”
Wednesday was an easy one for everybody; there were almost no animals in the stock barns, because it was a transition day between showing events. But there are days that could be called perfect storms.
“Saturday’s going to be really busy,” Davis said. “It’s the first triple-show day.”
That means rodeos at 10 a.m. and 2 and 8 p.m., in addition to the Junior Wether Lamb Show; Paint Horse Performance Classes; Rabbit Show; National Charolais Cattle Show; Hereford Heifer Show; Junior Wether Goat Show; Limousin Cattle Show; Nolan Ryan Beef cooking demonstration; Red Angus cattle sale; and the Angus Cattle Show.
Davis said lots of families stay for several hours on triple-show days.
“Some will go to the early rodeo, then go shopping,” he said. “Others will go shopping first, then go to the 2 p.m. rodeo. We’ll have upwards of 80 people” working the lots.
Davis strongly suggested that, on really busy days like this, guests take advantage of a vast parking lot in the Stockyards near Billy Bob’s Texas. Buses shuttle guests to and from the Stock Show’s main gate. Davis’ people don’t drive the buses, but they do operate the overflow parking lot.
While there are always several greenhorns among the parking lot workers, the majority of Davis’ people return each year. About 30 are military veterans. Almost as many are educators like Victor Arguijo, a retired Fort Worth teacher and coach who still coaches part time at Country Day School and is back at the Stock Show for the seventh year in a row.
“I keep coming back because there are great people all the way around,” Arguijo said. “I’ll do this for as long as Mr. Davis will have me.”
Camaraderie is the major attraction for almost all his people, Davis said. To be sure, they are not volunteers; but few are in it for the money.
“It’s one thing to ask someone to volunteer to work inside,” Davis said. “But when you send them out into Stock Show weather?”
Many of the positions pay minimum wage, Davis said. But there’s another perk for workers who become members of the parking lot family. Dickies gives them black jackets sporting Stock Show decals that serve as uniforms. Indeed, Dickies provided 225 Pro Glacier Extreme Puffer jackets to various Stock Show workers this season, according to a company email. The MSRP on Dickies website is $69.99, but it’s going for $39.99 in the Amon G. Carter Exhibits Hall.
“The No. 1 reason we do this is for community support,” said Rachel Courts, director of public relations for Dickies. “And, No. 2, because we’ve been in business in Fort Worth since 1922 and we’ve been part of the Stock Show community for more than 20 years.”
Fortunately for the parking lot workers, most of the Stock Show guests feel like they’re part of that community as well. Drivers who show their frustration through overly expressive words and/or gestures are a tiny minority.
“It’s usually the guy who gets frustrated because he waited in line and sees a ‘lot full’ sign go up just as he gets there,” Davis said. “We do our best to keep everyone happy.”
Folks just need to be patient.