Last year, more than 1,000 horses and mules crossed the cattle guard at the gates of the Diamond B Ranch in Neches to participate in a Texas-sized celebration of western culture — incidentally while breaking the record for the largest equine gathering in the state.
The horses had come — along with about 3,000 humans — to take part in the first annual 1836 Chuck Wagon Race, a Texas Independence Day Weekend event that throws wagon racing, bronco riding, cowboys, clinics and more into one smorgasbord “Wild West” week of activities.
Diamond B Ranch owner Moon Swanson, who organized the event, said it's intended to give folks a chance to experience western culture and to look back across the pages of Texas' history.
“We're Texan to the bone out here,” Swanson said. “We love Texas, we love Texas history, and this whole wagon race is centered around a Texas Independence Day celebration. That's why it's called the 1836 Chuck Wagon Race, because that's when Texas won its independence.”
Accordingly, the event takes place the first week in March and features a lively schedule of activities and contests, including: five classes of wagon races, a cowboy-style match race, a Bronc Fann'n competition (akin to the saddle bronc event at a rodeo), pasture team roping and cowboy-mounted shooting.
Other activities include trail rides, barn dances, hoof care clinics, barrel racing clinics, dutch oven cooking classes, herd dog and bull whip demonstrations (respectively), cowboy poetry, cowboy church and more.
Should someone show up and want to take a horse home, they can do that too, from the Horse, Mule and Wagon Auction.
The event takes place over the course of a week, kicking off March 1 and lasting through March 9. People are welcome to show up any or all days and can camp on the property. Admission is $20 per person per day, unless you're a kid ages 12 and under, in which case you can trot in for $10. Admission includes a ticket to everything on the ranch, including entry into events and a place to pitch your tent.