Sunday, October 24, 2010

Red Steagalls cowboy gathering

Well I haven't written in quite a while but I have a real good reason for a new post. For the last few years I have been wanting to attend the Red Steagall cowboy gathering and western swing festival. We finally made it this year even though it was a flying trip to cowtown and back. If you love the old west you really owe it to yourself to attend this cowboy paradise.
Upon arriving at the stockyards I quickly realized that a trip to this historical part of Texas was worth it in it's own right but Red's festival made it so much more. The only thing that didn't cooperate was the weather, it rained, I mean rained! If you've ever wondered what the expression "cow peeing on a flat rock" means you should have been in Ft. Worth with us. In true cowboy spirit we didn't let the rain dampen our spirits, there was just too much cool, make that "cowboy cool", stuff to see and do.

The hard rain didn't last but it did shower off and on all day but that's ok I'll take that over a 105 degree heat wave any day. We were able to get in everything we wanted to do in that one day. We did some tourist shopping, ate some great buffalo burgers and took in some fascinating cowboy museums. We also spent a big part of the day talking to the chuckwagon cooks. My mom and dad taught me how to cook in dutch ovens years ago and my dad and I have talked about getting the money together and getting our own wagon someday so we can participate in these little get togethers.

The highlight of the day had to be the poetry and music. There was a full line up of great western musicians we couldn't possibly get it all in and see all the other sites too so we picked and chose who we wanted to see. We started off with Jean Prescott she is a female western singer. I guess you could just call her a cowgirl singer. She was really cool, it makes you think about that really cool aunt that you enjoyed hanging around when you were a kid. I think my mom really became a fan because not only does she have a great sense of humor she also touches a chord with women who live the rural life out in the country. I also read that she lives south of Abilene so I guess we may almost be neighbors. Later in the afternoon we got to see the man himself, Mr. Red Steagall in the flesh. He and his bunkhouse boys performed in an auction arena with a packed house, well as many as you can pack into an old auction barn.

Mr. Steagall is one of my all time favorites. I am such a huge fan because he has mastered the two styles of music I love most, cowboy and western swing. Saturday I learned that he is also a master storyteller that really knows how to work a crowd. He had everyone in the barn bustin' a gut at his stories and poems. He also mixed in a few great cowboy songs to go with the stories.

As soon as Red was done we hurried across the street to catch the end of another one of my favorite cowboy singers Mr. Don Edwards. Don is one of those guys who could sing the phone book and make it sound great! He could have been a star in any genre of music luckily for guys like me he likes to sing about punchers and cattle. I knew he had a great voice but you have to see him live. His voice is phenomenal! He had the crowd enthralled, they were eating out of his hand. This man is a true talent and American treasure.

After we finished Don's show we decided to do a little more shopping, Paw-Paw decided he needed a new vest. While we were doing that my daughter Mariana finally got up the nerve to go over to Red and ask for a picture. She had been nagging me all day to go over and talk to him but I know how busy these guys are and how many people must be bothering them so I have always hated to ask. She wasn't hearing that so she finally asked herself. Then Mr. Steagall, being the true cowboy gentleman he is graciously agreed to pose for a couple with Mariana and my other daughter Mia. He stopped and talked to all of us for a second. He reassured me his tv show on RFD TV has not been cancelled and told me the story of where the Coleman County Cowboy band came from. Come ask me about it some day and I'll pass the story on to you.

So once again if you've never been to the stockyards for his festival you really owe it to yourself. It really makes you proud to be a Texan but it is much bigger than that it just re-enforces everything that we know and love about the west. From cowboys to plowboys, farmers, ranchers, hunters, fishermen, campers and anyone else who loves the great outdoors will truly have a great time hangin' round with Red and the boys.

God and Texas,
Jason Watson

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