As our plane jolted to a stop Thursday morning at the Dallas Fort Worth airport, Claire, Danielle, Ellen, Liz, Renee, and I were more than happy for a small break before we hopped our second flight to Lubbock for the 2012 ACT Professional Development Conference (PDC).
Being the typical college students we are, all of us plopped down on the blue vinyl seats, threw our feet up, and pulled out our homework. About 30 minutes into our wait, a ticket agent’s voice came over the intercom. She told us our flight was delayed.
Then she said the flight was canceled. A resounding groan fell over the crowd in the waiting area.
I’m sure the look on our faces was a mixture of annoyance, surprise, and panic, but we picked up our things, waited in line at the counter and began to discuss our plans for the day. Though the idea of renting a car and driving the five hours to Lubbock was tossed around, we opted to take a voucher for discount hotel rooms and reschedule our flight to 7:40 the next morning.
Even if we weren’t going to make it to Lubbock that day, we knew we wanted to make the most of our trip, so we grudgingly headed to the hotel and began to chatter about how we were going to spend our day, with one requirement: food!
After spending the summer in Fort Worth, I knew a place that would meet all of our requirements and give us a little taste of Texas—the stockyards! When we arrived, the beautiful weather and small Thursday crowd couldn’t be beat. We started off with some delicious barbeque and then “hoofed it” down the bricks of Exchange Avenue.
The Fort Worth Stockyards features several restaurants, shops, a hotel, and entertainment venues. Weaving in and out of small shops, trying on boots, hats, and dresses, we found ourselves immersed in the culture of Cowtown. People in sparkly belts and cowboys atop sorrel horses lined up in the streets, preparing for the 4 p.m. “cattle drive.”
We learned that Fort Worth became the hub of the livestock industry in the late 1800s, serving as a major thoroughfare for cattle produced throughout Texas. In the early 1900s, a processing plant was built adjacent to the stockyards’ holding pens, which kept the cattle in Fort Worth longer, contributing to the local economy. The entire attraction was added National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Though we didn’t make it to Lubbock like planned, we enjoyed the day away from classes to meet new people and understand the agricultural heritage of the southwest. In the Fort Worth Stockyards, the cattle are long gone from the dusty wooden pens and the packing plants have fallen silent, but the celebration of livestock production is still very alive.