Sure, it's been a Cowtown tradition since 1896, but really ... what's so dang special about the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo?
Goats, pigs, bucking bulls, funnel cake grease and tractor-size belt buckles.
Every year same song, different verse, right?
Of course not. As the 117th annual Stock Show gears up, we called upon some local luminaries to remind us why this enduring event is so special. From young musicians to veteran TV and radio personalities, from a cool-cat restaurateur to a Tony-award winning actress, they share their favorite memories, their tips on Stock Show attire, and spill the beans on the weirdest things they've ever seen at the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
Here's who we talked to:
Pam Minick, marketing director for Billy Bob's Texas
Singer Hudson Moore
Betty Buckley, Tony Award-winning actress/singer
Tammy Dombeck, former NBC 5 traffic reporter
Jody Dean, KLUV/98.7 FM morning-show host
Karen Borta, CBS 11 anchor
Greg Williams, KRLD/105.3 FM personality
Jeff Jamison, CBS 11 meteorologist
Gracey Tune, dancer/founder, Fort Worth Arts Collective Fifth Avenue
Jon Bonnell, chef/owner, Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine
Keith Hicks, chef and owner of Buttons restaurants in Fort Worth, Addison, etc
Deborah Ferguson, co-anchor, NBC 5 Today
Sure, there was some agreement among these folks. But there were also a lot of surprises.
Pam Minick, marketing director for Billy Bob's Texas
Best place for a post- or pre-Stock Show meal : For barbecue, Cooper's (park at Billy Bob's and take the T's Stock Show Shuttle to the Stock Show ... easier parking). For steak, Del Frisco's, where they welcome cowboy hats and spurs. To get dining and rodeo all in one, Reata at the Rodeo! Then, of course, after the rodeo, while you're all dressed up, come two-step at Billy Bob's.
Favorite Stock Show memory : For me, it was competing in the Justin Boot Company special anniversary rodeo performance a few years ago. Team roping with Billy [Minick, Pam's husband]. We turned in a great time, and were only beaten by world champion Ty Murray (who borrowed my horse!). I also covered the rodeo on two televised specials in the early '90s and those were fun shows.
Stock Show fashion tip : Well, you know I dress as though it's Stock Show time every day. But for everyone else, Justin Boots are a must and a great cowboy hat. For ladies, there are fun styles of hats from Charlie 1 Horse hat company. Stock Show gives everyone a chance to bring out their "inner cowboy."
Weirdest thing seen at the Stock Show : It has to be the crazy gizmos they sell in the massive trade show. You never know what you will find.
Most underrated thing about the Stock Show : Many people miss seeing the varied breeds of livestock -- I love the llamas! As far as hidden gems, I would say watching the dedication of the kids in 4-H and FFA as they put in hours of grooming their livestock projects ... makes you proud of our next generation!
Dream celebrity guest: George Strait -- he gets it! He was a high school ag teacher before making it big as a singer, so he would totally get it. As far as introducing someone new, how about Taylor Swift? She could write a song about it!
Hudson Moore, Fort Worth-born singer-songwriter
Best place for a post or pre-Stock Show meal: Railhead
Favorite Stock Show memory : Chasing the goats all through the crowd with my brothers (my mom was not happy).
Stock Show fashion tip : Boots and jeans for the guys, and the ladies need to "do it up big" and bring on them tight jeans!
Weirdest thing seen at the Stock Show: A little monkey riding a dog.
Most underrated thing about the Stock Show, or its hidden gems: Love the mini-doughnut!
Betty Buckley, Tony-award winning theater, film and television actress and singer
Best place for a post- or pre-Stock Show meal: Joe T. Garcia's!
Favorite Stock Show memory : Riding in the Grand Entry when I was 11 with our riding club.
Describe what you'd wear to the Stock Show and/or tips for Stock Show garb. Blue jeans, boots, fancy cowboy shirt. Stock show garb best purchased at M.L. Leddy's downtown or on North Main Street.
Weirdest thing seen at the Stock Show? I love the monkey and border collie team. That monkey is a quite a cowboy!
Most underrated thing about the Stock Show, or its hidden gems? It used to be the cutting competition, which now is its own thing.
If y ou could pick a celebrity to be your guest at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, who would it be and why? Ann Richards and Molly Ivins. Hanging out with those two gals at the rodeo ... what a night that would be!
Tammy Dombeck, former "Gridlock Buster" for KXAS/Channel 5
Favorite place for a post-Stock Show beer: Definitely the White Elephant Saloon!
Favorite place for a post- or pre-Stock Show meal: Riscky's Steakhouse (just to note, there are two Riscky's in the Stockyards: Riscky's BBQ and Riscky's Steakhouse). The steakhouse is really good and not real pricey. (www.risckys.com)
Favorite Stock Show memory: My parents taking me when I was a young girl, and watching the lights go dark in the coliseum before the rodeo began, [then] watching the spotlight, the horses coming into the rodeo arena and then the National Anthem. PRICELESS
Have you ever been on a horse? Yes, I actually rode in the Stock Show parade in downtown Fort Worth with the Benbrook Stables group. The late [NBC 5 reporter] Brett Johnson came to downtown Fort Worth to cover the parade. The next year, he passed suddenly, but it's still one of my favorite Stock Show memories because Brett Johnson was the epitome of a good-ol' Fort Worth man.
Do you own boots or a cowboy hat? Yes, I have a cheap cowgirl hat, ha! But I do have some great cowgirl boots. My sweet friend Carla gave me a pair of dark brown Charlie 1 Horse boots by Lucchese, and I love them!
Stock Show fashion tips: I absolutely love going to "Bulls' Night Out." It is my favorite thing to attend. I always wear my boots, jeans, simple top with a jean jacket and my cowgirl hat with feathers.
Weirdest thing seen at the Stock Show: The Celebrity Goat-Milking Contest. But [NBC 5 morning anchor] Deborah Ferguson is really great at it.
Most underrated thing about the Stock Show: The amazing rodeo performances. And all of the young kids who come from all over Texas to compete, they are so dedicated.
Does the Stock Show ever give you any guilty yearnings to become a vegetarian?
Not really. I love a good steak. [But] I have girlfriends who are and admire them for their choice.
Dream celebrity Stock Show guest: I would choose the amazing former Fort Worth mayor, Mike Moncrief. I adore him and his wife, and I know they take such pride in Fort Worth and have a ranch full of animals.
Jody Dean, host, Jody Dean and the Morning Team, KLUV/98.7 FM
Best place for a post-Stock Show beer: Angelo's
Best place for a post- or pre-Stock Show meal: Railhead BBQ (or Ol' South Pancake House for breakfast)
Favorite Stock Show memory: Going with my Uncle Chick, who had a cattle ranch outside of San Saba.
Have you ever been on a horse? Yes. And a few have been on me.
Do you own a pair of cowboy boots and/or cowboy hat? Yes and yes.
Stock Show fashion tips: Know what kind of jeans go with what kind of boots, pick a theme and stay with it. Less is more -- cowboys don't bling anything but their spurs or saddle. Get a decent hat and get it properly creased by a pro, and don't try to look like Toby Keith. Go watch Open Range. And few things look classier than a sharp blazer, khakis, a starched white shirt and a classic hat (felt till Memorial Day).
Weirdest thing seen at the Stock Show: A bull rider getting his hand popped off by the rope just before they opened the chute. Just as he cinched it down, the bull lurched and pinned his right elbow against the gate, while suddenly pitching forward. They re-attached the rider's hand at the hospital, and he later became an actor and artist.
Most underrated thing about the Stock Show: Announcer Bob Tallman. You're listening to the best rodeo announcer of all time. There've been some great ones, but there's only one Bob Tallman.
Does the Stock Show ever give you any guilty yearnings to become a vegetarian? No, but we need to be engaged consumers. Someone or something paid a price for everything on our plates. Too many people think steak grows inside plastic in the back of Wal-Mart.
Dream celebrity guest: I've actually been in the company of celebrities at the rodeo, but I think I would most enjoy watching it with either actor Barry Corbin (Northern Exposure), or the late Western film legend Ben Johnson. Maybe put Robert Duvall on that list, too. Just really good guys who don't or didn't have anything to prove, who understand the culture and the city.
Karen Borta, KTVT/Channel 11 anchor
Best place for a Stock Show beer or a post-Stock Show meal: Reata
Favorite Stock Show memory: The Stock Show has always been an annual event for us, but probably my favorite memories are from when my children were really little. We loved watching their faces light up at the different animal exhibits. I have a great picture of my older two walking ahead of us, hand-in-hand, in their little jeans, cowboy boots and cowboy hats.
Have you ever been on a horse? Yes, although it's been a few years since I've ridden.
Do you own a pair of cowboy boots and/or cowboy hat? Several pairs of boots.
Stock Show fashion tips: If we go in the evening, I tend to dress it up a little by wearing nice jeans, nice boots, a cute top and what some might say is my "gaudy" jewelry. During the day, it's all about comfort: plain ol' jeans and boots. Hint: If you plan to spend time in the barns, bring a warm jacket because Stock Show weather tends to be COLD.
Weirdest thing seen at the Stock Show: [CBS 11 anchor and meteorologist] Tracy Kornet and Jeff Jamison in the goat-milking contest
Most underrated thing about the Stock Show: There's so much more to the Stock Show than, well ... livestock. One of my favorite things is to shop the cute, trendy clothes and browse -- and buy from -- the many vendors at the Exhibits Hall.
Does the Stock Show ever give you any guilty yearnings to become a vegetarian? Nope, sorry.
Dream celebrity guest: Blake Shelton -- because he only lives a couple of hours away, because I think he'd love the Stock Show, and because he's Blake Shelton.
Greg Williams, co-host, RAGE With Richie & Greggo,
KRLD/105.3 FM "The Fan"
Best place for a Stock Show beer: I would have to say either Railhead or (in the past) JJ's Hideaway.
Best place for a post- or pre-Stock Show meal: This is a no-brainer: Angelo's Bar-B-Que.
Favorite Stock Show memory: Far too many to remember, but the year I won the Celebrity Goat Milking was a blast. I was such an underdog, and it was a paper-thin victory.
Have you ever been on a horse? Yes, been on a horse many, many times. I am a former Celebrity Cutting Horse winner. I beat Kix Brooks (of Brooks and Dunn) in the finals.
Do you own a pair of cowboy boots and/or cowboy hat? Oh my gosh, yes. Some would say too many pairs. But my pride and joys are a custom-made pair (from M.L. Leddy's) that are purple ostrich with the TCU logo on the tops. Also have a vintage pair of anteater, which are now outlawed since they're on the endangered species list. I don't wear a hat often, but I do have a few, should I decide to sport one.
Greg Williams' Stock Show fashion tips (he had a lot to say)
Weirdest thing seen at the Stock Show: It had to be when there was a runaway horse on the midway. It was pure chaos. He was finally caught, and the rider jumped on and was promptly bucked off, right into a concession stand. The operator of the stand wanted compensation RIGHT THEN. A fight broke out and the horse took off again and crossed University. I'm still not sure how this story ended.
Most underrated thing about the Stock Show: This has to be the Backstage Club. If you are lucky enough to go, you know what I'm taking about. This makes you immediately cool. It's definitely worth the five-minute elevator ride. I am still amazed that elevator is still operational. Slowest elevator in America.
Does the Stock Show ever give you any guilty yearnings to become a vegetarian? Meat is the reason for the Stock Show. Dr. Atkins should be proud. Salads are for the weak and rabbits during Stock Show run.
Dream celebrity guest: I would say Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. I'd love to walk around with him as he sports full rock 'n' roll regalia.
Jeff Jamison, KTVT/Channel 11 meteorologist
Best place for a post-Stock Show beer: Flying Saucer in downtown Fort Worth -- I'm a semi-regular.
Best place for a post- or pre-Stock Show meal: Joe T. Garcia's, hands down.
Favorite Stock Show memory: I was in the band at Western Hills High School and remember fondly marching in the annual Stock Show Parade.
Have you ever been on a horse? Yes, a few times. Most recently for a morning show live remote when I failed miserably at roping ... very miserably.
Do you own a pair of cowboy boots and/or cowboy hat? I do own boots ... my lovely wife got me a pair for my birthday last year. I have to admit I hadn't been a boot-wearer in the past, but these have changed my life (OK, that may be a bit dramatic). But they are very comfortable ostrich boots.
Stock Show fashion tip: Definitely go with boots. It's usually cold during the Stock show, so go with a button-up shirt, good pair of jeans and a fancy coat. You'll look marvelous.
Weirdest thing seen at the Stock Show: I participated in the goat milking contest last year ... the rate at which the milk came out of the goat was weird to me. It was so fast!
Does the Stock Show ever give you any guilty yearnings to become a vegetarian? No. I shudder at the thought.
Dream celebrity guest: I'd go with chef Tim Love, who could show me firsthand where the best cuts of meat are coming from.
Gracey Tune, dancer and founder of Fort Worth arts collective Arts Fifth Avenue
Tune's parents started bringing her and her brother Tommy (esteemed choreographer) from their hometown Houston when Gracey was 5 or 6. "There was a hotel then called Western Hills -- bunch of Hollywood cowboys had all gone together to build this place; it was the coolest place. And the Stock Show stars would stay there. It's not there anymore, but boy, I looked forward to that every year, coming up here."
Most underrated thing about the Stock Show: Well, to me, the most exciting thing is the grand entry -- it's just breathtaking. Just the way they present all of the flags of Texas, the whole choreography, the parade, the matching horses, the cowboys and men who make the Stock Show, the dignitaries -- it's this serpentine ribbon of horses coming through, and the orchestra, and everybody's singing the national anthem. It's live theater on horseback. I've been to all the big rodeos in our country, but the grand entry at the Fort Worth Rodeo is tops.
Best place for a post-Stock Show beer: The Backstage Club in Will Rogers. It's so cool, with those big windows that look out at the show. They serve drinks and dinner; it's always a big tradition to go to the Backstage Club.
Best place for a post- or pre-Stock Show meal: Everybody would go to the Original, Dos Hermanos, JJ's Hideaway -- they've torn it down -- and Ol' South [Pancake House].
Favorite Stock Show memory : They used to bring in the cowboy celebrities, from shows like Bonanza, when Western shows were popular on TV. And they had Hugh O'Brian, the guy who played Wyatt Earp. And they picked me to ride on the haywagon into the arena with him, and he sang and he kissed me. I also met Fess Parker [who played both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone on TV], and got to ride in the stagecoach with him. He was big, and I remember he was a vegetarian and drank carrot juice.
Do you own a pair of cowboy boots and/or cowboy hat? I have Western wear. When Tommy was inducted as a National Medal of Arts recipient [in 2003] when George W. Bush was president, I was invited to the ceremony. I wanted to wear a black Western suit with a beautifully cut jacket. I was so lucky to find it, in my exact size, at Maverick [Western Wear], and I wore it with my black Leddy's boots.
Most delightful thing seen at the Stock Show: Oh [laughs], I love that little monkey riding the dog. He's just precious.
Does the Stock Show ever give you any guilty yearnings to become a vegetarian? No. I grew up in it, and I don't think about that.
If you could pick a celebrity to be your guest at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, who would it be and why? Johnny Depp. His latest film is The Lone Ranger, and both Clayton Moore and John Todd (respectively, TV's Lone Ranger, and Tonto on the radio version of the show) appeared at the Fort Worth Rodeo. Johnny needs to see "the Cowboy Way."
Jon Bonnell, chef/owner Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine
Best place for a post-Stock Show beer: Since I have two young kids, my late-night beer drinking is not as regular as it once was, but the new Rodeo Goat seems like a really fun beer joint to me.
Best place for a post- or pre-Stock Show meal: Bonnell's is perfect for a pre-meal, but I also love Lanny's, Ellerbe's or even a great burger from Fred's.
Favorite Stock Show memory: When I was a kid, I always loved watching the clowns (yes, we were allowed to call them clowns back then) mess with the big bulls. Every once in a while one guy would take a flying jump over the barrel and over a bull, which was as cool a trick as any kid could ever hope to witness. Of course, a bull would also stab one with his horns once in a while, which was equally exciting.
Have you ever been on a horse? I've ridden horses since before I can remember.
Do you own a pair of cowboy boots and/or cowboy hat? I own four pairs of boots and five hats. My favorite pair of boots I bought back in '89 for my brother's wedding-rehearsal dinner on our family's ranch. They are light brown anteater skin and still fit perfectly. It's been quite a long time since that skin has been available in the United Sates, so they get more unique the longer I own them.
Stock Show fashion tips: I always take my wife and our kids to a matinee show, so we tend to dress as much for the midway as we do for the show. Comfortable jeans, my best boots (only if the weather is dry) and an oilskin coat is pretty standard for me, along with a black felt hat, of course.
Weirdest thing seen at the Stock Show: Guy with a tattooed nose with a big ring and a chain connecting it to his ear.
Most underrated thing about the Stock Show: Be sure to check out the petting zoo and animal barns, especially with kids.
Does the Stock Show ever give you any guilty yearnings to become a vegetarian? I've never considered becoming a vegetarian. Meat rules! When I see a cute cow, I think, "Mmmmmmm delicious!"
Keith Hicks, chef/owner of Buttons restaurant in Fort Worth
Best place for a post-Stock Show beer or meal: They probably have some of the coldest beer right there at the Stock Show. I like walking around the food court area, and getting some of the stuff you can't normally get, and the barbecue. Other than that, Fred's [Texas] Cafe, the Railhead ... and it's OK to say Buttons, so I can come on back check on the homefront, and have a cool, refreshing Pabst Blue Ribbon -- PBR.
You've been going to the Stock Show since 2004. Do you have a favorite memory yet? A good friend of mine, Ed, he usually has permanent box seating at the Stock Show, and those seats are very hard to come by -- you have to die or will it over to somebody. He always drops me off a couple of tickets for Cowboys of Color Rodeo, and we always have a good time.
One of my fondest memories is when [Texas Rangers general manager] Ron Washington [first] came into town, and we were at the rodeo, sitting in the Moncriefs section, right up front by the railing. We were just talking, and one of the bulls came out and was bucking and getting a little wild, and it almost came up into our laps. It was just funny watching Ron go from talking all formal and cordial, and then, you know, he got a little nervous, and let's just say I remember a couple of f-bombs being dropped.
And the story gets funnier. After that, I was walking to the bathroom, and everybody was looking at me funny, and I was like: "Wow. They never seen a brother-man with a beard?"
And after I got into the bathroom [and looked in the mirror] I realized there was some -- I'm gonna go ahead and say it was dirt -- that had been kicked up by that bull, and it was lodged in my beard. And that's why everybody was staring at me.
That just reassured me that Fort Worth is really a cool place.
Do you own a cowboy hat? No, but I'm looking. It's kind of hard -- I have a big head. It's gonna take some extra stitching to get a cowboy hat to fit this head right.
What's your advice for attire at the Stock Show? I'd wear some jeans, a sweat top, Kangol hat.
And a beard guard? Yes. A beard guard ... that's a must these days.
Most underrated thing about the Stock Show: Just that there are people that live that lifestyle. I remember when I was a kid, we used to love to go to the auctions, all the kids would play together, surrounded by horses and cows. It's a shame that more people don't check the whole Stock Show out. You don't have to be in that lifestyle. It all boils down to a good local history lesson: it's had such an impact on the city of Fort Worth; it's called Cowtown for a reason.
If you could pick a celebrity to be your guest at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, who would it be? I'd take the Cream of Wheat man with me. I don't know his name, but that'd be one cook with another cook, just sitting back, relaxing and knowing that for a time or two -- for a couple of hours, there's no cooking right now.
Deborah Ferguson, co-anchor, NBC 5 Today, KXAS/Channel 5
Best place for a post-Stock Show beer: Railhead, 'cause of that tried-and-true frosty mug. Or if you can get a membership to the Backstage Club, head there. You never you know who'll you'll see up there.
Best place for a post- or pre-Stock Show meal: We always go to Reata at the Rodeo and have the tenderloin tamales and Dutch apple oven crisp; they are just as good as you'll find at the mothership downtown.
Favorite Stock Show memory: Wow, there are so many! Gettin' out of school for Stock Show Day and riding the rides on the Midway with friends. Marching in the Stock Show Parade while a student at Trimble Tech. I was on the flag corps in the band, then a cheerleader. There was also the first time I rode a horse in the parade. The late Mansfield Police Chief Steve Noonkester let me borrow a horse and ride with his group one year. Nervous? You bet, but oh, so proud to pretend to be a cowgirl for a few hours. Last year, the love of my life, Steve Lamb with WBAP Radio, and I got to announce the parade together. It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny morning, and we got the best spot on the route.
Have you ever been on a horse? Yes. Did I stay on? Well ... most of the time. I borrowed another horse to be in the Celebrity Cutting Championship a few years back. That's an awesome animal! Well, let's just say, the horse went one way and I went the other. No injuries; some good laughs, and yes, I did get back on.
Do you own a pair of cowboy boots and/or cowboy hat? I do own a few pairs of cowboy boots. (Steve has more, and in so many colors!) My favorite pair is the one I wore on the Big Bend Longhorn Cattle Drive. They remind me that even though I wasn't born a cowgirl, I still have a little of her spirit in me. As for a cowboy hat, I pay so much to have my hair cut, colored and highlighted for TV, why would I want to cover it up? Ha!
Stock Show fashion tips: If it's the rodeo, take it up just a notch. Ladies, add some bling. Guys, get those jeans creased. If it's a day in the barns or midway, jeans and boots, [or] jeans and tennis shoes are fine. People think you have to "look the part" to be out there, but not true.
Weirdest thing seen at the Stock Show: It has to be one of the outfits at the Goat Creative Costume Contest. It is so funny! Kids dress their goat up in a costume, and they wear one to match. You never know what they'll come up with!
Does the Stock Show ever give you any guilty yearnings to become a vegetarian? I gotta say no.
Dream celebrity guest: Why, Steve Lamb with WBAP Radio, of course! OK, if he was booked, I'd invite Bradley Cooper.