Brian Smith/David May
After camping out overnight Monday in Mineral Wells at the Palo Pinto County Livestock Association grounds, dozens of covered wagons and riders on horseback made their way east Tuesday morning along U.S. Highway 180 toward Weatherford in the annual Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering and Western Swing trail ride.
The ride began in Jacksboro and will end at the Fort Worth Stockyards in time for this weekend’s 22nd annual cowboy festival that pays tribute to the Old West in food, song, ranch rodeo and cutting horse events, poetry and more.
The ride continued down U.S. 180 Tuesday afternoon where the group was scheduled to rest at the First Monday Trade Grounds Tuesday evening.
It was a rest of a different nature for Elvis and Colin Howell. The pair have been chuck wagon cooks on different trail rides for 15 years or so. Colin Howell asked his brother Elvis if he’d like to take part in this year’s without having to cook.
“We just came for fun and have never been on this ride before,” Elvis Howell, who runs an investment firm out of Stillwater, Okla., said. “We’re usually working, putting out food at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.., so this is play time for us. The people here have been very nice, as we’re all kind of interested in the same thing: cattle and the western way of life.”
The pair, who have cooked for the National Cowboy Hall of Fame ceremony, admit it’s kind of nice to be able to take a break. The grounds were a whirlwind of activity Tuesday afternoon, as a large stage had been set up with a couple hundred chairs for a concert later in the evening.
After a long day on U.S. 180, many riders were setting up their animals with food and water. One was Curtis Thompson of Atoka, Okla., who said this is his third overall ride, but his first in Texas.
“Always a great time no matter where you go, “ Thompson said, as he gathered food and water for his horse.
The riders hit the road early this morning for Azle and will finish the ride Thursday in Fort Worth.
For more information go to http://redsteagallcowboygathering.com.
— Brian Smith and David May