Not the usual tourists?

Trip Start Sep 27, 2010
Trip End Mar 23, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Oklahoma
Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We love to explore the unusual, however, sometimes what is unusual for us is everyday for others. OKC has a famous district called "Stockyards City" and as far as most tourists are concerned this is just an old part of town (historic but not downtown) with some interesting buildings; shops, cowboy gear, antiques, art, jewellery and restaurants. It is though, as the clue in the name suggests, the stockyards where cattle are auctioned off each week. Every Monday and Tuesday sees cattle brought in auctioned off and taken away, this is actually their centenary year. So, when we go to the stockyards, we go to the stockyards – you can smell beef a mile off (that sweet smell of bulls*^t) though I must say for the very busy working corral area it was all relatively clean. We wandered in through the entrance just as a truckload of cattle were being bought out. Finding the offices we asked where all the action was and could we go and watch? Well, of course we could, just make sure that when you actually enter the auction shed, sit on your hands (and ignore an itchy nose) or you may have to arrange to take home a few head of beef cattle :) The sale had started at 8am and they expected that it may go on to midnight as there were 13,000 head being sold that day! Walking out to the corral area we climbed the steps to a gantry that takes you over the top of all the cattle waiting to go through the auction – the pens went on for as far as you could see. Those beef were calling to each other with their own special mooosic (couldn't resist that one) that filled the air along with that previously mentioned odour, though, believe me it was sweet and not a horrible pong at all. The wranglers on horseback were guiding the “lots” down to the auction shed. We wandered along this gantry, taking our pictures and obviously not standing out from all the other people just going about their business, not sure why we kept getting the strange looks. Eventually we wandered into the auction hall, I am no stranger to auctions, buying most of my cars at auction back home and also being an avid furniture/antique/technology buyer at various auctions over the years. You may even remember we went to a farm auction over in New Hampshire from one of our previous blogs (keep up there will be questions one day). I am pretty sure there was even a song about “The Auctioneer” however none of this had prepared me for the patter from the auctioneer here. I could hardly understand a word though at times I think I heard a figure ($ amount) in there now and again. The cattle came through in batches maybe 10 to 50 at a time, though there was a batch of three caramel coloured calves that came through who made just under $100 per head (very tempted to bid – but then what?) Amazing to think that this would be repeated so many times over before the end of day. By now I was feeling a little uneasy about waving my camera around in here so we made our exit, pausing only to see some of the sold cattle being loaded up to be taken on to… Just another interesting day for the not so usual tourist :) We did wander around the cowboy stores and actually had a meal (as everyone we spoke to had recommended this) in the Cattlemen’s restaurant – what a lunch, set us up for the whole day.

Another visit took us to the State Fair Park for the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) World Championship Show. This being a two week event we only caught a glimpse of the action with our one day visit however, yet again I feel sure we were the only “tourists” there as most of the audience were avid supporters of the AQHA but even though I was neither wearing boots/spurs or a Stetson I didn’t feel out of place with my camera at this event. After parking up we wandered through the display of horse trailers on show, just look at these things: A combination of horse box and RV. Inside the arena we were just in time to see them setting up for the “Pole Bending” as ever there were the John Deere levelling out the arena giving the horses a great surface to compete on. All levelled and graded the poles were set up, I think they actually had to remain straight and not get bent at all – how about that? The competitors were fast indeed controlling their ride through the slalom course. We even had the souvenir programme that explained all the different events to us so although this one was very self explanatory not all were! As in the following event – “Western Pleasure” these horses show off in a number of different ways (even though it may look like silly walks at times) that they are a pleasure to ride. This was a very popular event. We also got to see the “ Amateur Team Penning” where a team of three riders have to extract three head of cattle (identified by numbers called out as the event starts) from a herd then pen them whilst keeping the rest of the heard at the other end of the arena. All very exciting but just a brief taste of the action that took place over those two weeks. There were something like 18 classes of competition, the three we saw, and some, like the barrel racing and tie down roping we have seen before but many others we have yet to witness. Looks like we will be going to a few more shows or rodeo’s before our return home :)

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