Cowboys, Rodeos, Food...Oh My
Let me tell you a little about the small town I live in, Dalhart, Texas, and the tradition of the XIT Rodeo. Also home to the largest free BBQ dinner in the nation.
Dalhart, TX is located in the upper left hand corner of the Texas panhandle near the New Mexico border. We have a population of 8,000 people made mostly of hardworking farmers. Our most popular crops right now are corn and cotton, but we do have a couple vineyards starting up!
A little history on the XIT Rodeo...
The XIT Ranch was a cattle ranch in the Texas Panhandle which operated from 1885 to 1912. Comprising over 3,000,000 acres of land, it ran for 200 miles along the border with New Mexico, varying in width from 20 to 30 miles. The massive ranch stretched through ten counties in Texas, which dubbed the name " Ten in Texas". At its peak it regularly handled 150,000 head of cattle. When the State Capitol in Austin burnt down in 1881 the state of Texas sold the 3,000,000 acres of land to the Farwell brothers. They agreed to build a $3,000,000.00 state capitol in exchange for the XIT property. In 1885 the first cattle arrive on the ranch, the longhorns. During the 1920’s the XIT Ranch was broken up, sold, and thus was divided into smaller ranches. Now only a few of the original buildings exist.
Since 1936, cowboys and their families who worked the XIT Ranch have been gathering at an annual reunion to reminisce about life on the ranch. Since 1937, these reunions have been held in Dalhart, where the addition of a rodeo and a free barbecue have been opened to the public. Today the event, which triples the size of the town, is one of the most exciting western celebrations in the world.
Now that we know the history we can appreciate the rodeo even more.
The one thing that Dalhart is mostly known for is the XIT Rodeo. The rodeo is always scheduled on the first weekend of August so if you're traveling through town at that time I suggest you stay a night and join in the festivities. Each night there's some sort of free food, the rodeo, and a dance with a live band.
During the day there's events besides the free food and the rodeo. On Saturday there's a big parade where they toss a ton of candy out for the kids, a huge craft sale at the city park, mud bogs, a fiddle contest, and a Vintage tractor pull. Most of the local stores will have amazing sales during the day on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Its kind of like a country Black Friday, lol.
So about that free food?!
On Thursdays there's a watermelon feed. You'll get a huge chunk of watermelon to share or to keep to yourself. Don't forget to bring the Tajin!
Friday is the pork chop feed which includes the juiciest piece of pork ever, green beans, and potatoes.
Saturday is the big night. This is where you get the best brisket of your life. This brisket is cooked on the fair grounds in the ground for at least 14 hours. They slop down a huge handful of meat with sauce, pinto beans, pickle slices, applesauce, and sliced white bread. Be sure to show up early because it will be hot and lines will be long.
The rodeo is full of local cowboys and cowgirls who showcase their skills at bronc riding, roping, tie-down, barrel racing, and my favorite bull riding. We also have a pretty funny rodeo clown and he always steals the show!
After the rodeo you'll want to head right over to the coliseum for the dance and live music. I'm not a country music fan by any means but I do love music in general. Since we live so far away from any major city with a good music venue this will have to do. And to be honest its kinda fun seeing this town light up and dance the night away. If you're wanting to dance be sure you've learned the country two step. Line dancing usually doesn't happen at this event which is sad because line dances are my jam!
On Sunday the town is quiet. Everyone is at home resting from the last three days of festivities. The stores are closed. The grocery store is empty.
Time for a lazy movie day.
I hope if you're traveling through my little town during the first weekend of August of any year, that you'll stop by and have a beer with us.