FORT WORTH, TX (CBSDFW) — Hey y'all! My name is Nathalie and I am a Digital Content Producer here at CBS DFW. I am a Fort Worth native, born and raised right here in Cowtown. You could say I've been wearing boots since I could walk.
Fort Worth's rich history is remembered in those brick streets and old railroads you find all over. The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo reminds us of that history. Not only is it not far from home, but I manage to learn something new every time I visit. As someone who has visited nearly every year for the past 24 years, here's my guide on visiting the Fort Worth Stock Show.
When to go
Weekends will have more people in attendance but also longer hours, so if you're a no-crowds person go on a weekday.
Based on your priorities, your day may look a little different based on the time spent at each location. The offices open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. daily. The shows start around 8 a.m. and the trade show for shoppers is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. There are times when some of the livestock barns may be less full of animals than others, so be sure to check the schedule to find out when that is.
Also, did I mention that poop is inevitable at the stock show? I wouldn't recommend wearing your favorite shoes. Another footwear tip: Break in your boots beforehand. If it's your first time in boots, take it easy and maybe bring some extra shoes if you know sore feet will make your visit less than great.
Where to park
Being a local, I prefer to arrive in my own car and park nearby. You're going to be walking all day anyways, so what's a little more? The best parking would be to snag a spot next to Casa Mañana so that when you exit the midway, you'll be back at your car in no time. Across the street from the Casa Mañana lot is Farrington Field, which is also ideal. Other good parking options are the lot next to the Amon G. Carter Exhibition Hall and the parking garages across the street. These four parking options are the closest to the showgrounds. If you're not local, or just don't want to deal with the hassle, there's the Trinity Railway, the Trinity Metro Bus, Molly the Trolley, and of course any ride-share service.
If you didn't get your tickets online, most entrances have somewhere to buy tickets from a booth. The entrance we are going to start at is at the Will Rodgers box office. By entering here, you'll be able to see the petting zoo and pony rides right next to the gate. The petting zoo line usually gets longer later in the day, so starting here means less waiting later. Animal feed is available at an additional cost. If you go early enough, the animals are still hungry for their breakfast!
The petting zoo is right next to an entrance to the midway; however, we're going to take things inside for a bit. If you know there's an event going on in the coliseum, feel free to start there. If not, The Amon G Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall has various vendors of varying crafts starting at 10 a.m. every day. One of my favorite vendors includes the hat stalls. I like to watch the craft of hat shaping. Did you know that they use steam to shape the brim of a hat as well as the top portion?
At this point, you've fed the animals in the petting zoo, and after all that shopping you've probably worked up an appetite. Walking out of the vendor hall, you may get turned around a bit weaving in and out of the stalls. Don't worry, you'll know our next location when you smell it.
Across the concourse is the Round Up Inn Food Court. Rest your feet and chow down on some of the best that Texas cuisine can offer. Barbeque is a no-brainer for anyone looking to recharge before heading to the next area of the showgrounds.
Feeling a bit fancier than finger foods? Find a full-service restaurant offering both lunch and dinner at the Reata at the Rodeo. If you haven't visited the downtown location of this restaurant, you can enjoy some of their western menu items at the Stock Show.
That all-natural smell that rams into you stepping out of the food court means that we've made it to the livestock areas.
There are five barns of swine, sheep and cows competing for prizes at the stock show. Many of the animals and their owners will be prepping for their debut, or just hanging out with their ribbons on display. As you walk through the barns, you will eventually find yourself at the FFA Children's Barnyard, the milking parlor, and the Doorways to Agriculture exhibit. These exhibits include more animals and more education about livestock in the state of Texas.
In the barnyard, you may be able to catch the baby chicks hatching in their incubator or see some suckling baby pigs. The milking parlor holds demonstrations on how technology has advanced how dairy farmers milk their cows. Doorways to Agriculture is a hands-on exhibit by the Texas Farm Bureau where you can learn more about Texas agriculture, sustainability and energy.
Throughout the barns, not only will you encounter plenty of livestock, but there are more vendors with livestock-handling necessities as well as a smaller food court area. To be specific, if you enter through the swine barn, you will encounter the exhibits in the following order:
- Children's Barnyard
- Poultry, Pigeons & Rabbits
- Planet Agriculture Exhibit
- Cattle Barn 1
- Stockman's Cafe
- Cattle Barn 2
- Milking Parlor
- Cattle Arena
- Cattle Barn 3
- Outdoor Food Court
- Cattle Barn 4
- Outdoor Food Court
Done holding your breath? Good! Because we've made it to the end of the barns. Feel free to grab another snack before heading to the next buildings to watch some shows. More food vendors and food trucks are located outside the barns and near the intersection of Burnett-Tandy Dr. and Rip Johnson Rd. Keep an eye out for some Tex-Mex classics sizzling at The Skillet.
The Moncrief Building leads into the W.R. Watt Arena. Many of the youth and Jr. cattle shows will be at this arena. If you continue in the same direction, you will run into the Equestrian Multi-purpose center. Also in this area are the West and John Justin arenas. Shows to catch here include the miniature horse show, team roping and cowboy mounted shooting. All have their own events at various times so rest your feet and do some seat-hopping as you move your way through the buildings.
A show that is a personal favorite of mine is the barrel races. Watching the women race their horses with not only skill, but speed is very impressive. This year, the timed event challenge will be on Monday, Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. in the John Justin Arena. In the same building is another shopping opportunity at the Go Texan Market.
After seat-hopping at the shows, stretch your legs by walking through your pick of the horse stables adjacent to the arenas and another just behind Will Rogers Coliseum.
The only thing left to do is ride the rides and get some food at the midway. Just remember, no Texas event is complete without a turkey leg and a large lemonade. You can also get a bucket of fries if you feel like sharing your food, but I don't blame you if you don't.
Keep in mind that this route is not one-size-fits-all, but it is an easy way to make sure you catch most-if not all-there is to offer at the Fort Worth Stock Show. The Rodeo is a separate event from the Stock Show grounds and you will need a separate ticket for those shows that are usually in the late afternoon to evening hours.
Be sure to check out the schedule for all the exhibitions and try to time your visit according to anything you may find interesting to learn more about.
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