You never know what the weather is going to be like for the Cowboy Breakfast. Three years ago, for example, an icy rain slopped down on those darting about the parking lot of the Cowboys Dance Hall.
But, rain or dry, you can guarantee that crowds will show up in the wee hours of the morning to enjoy free tacos, tamales, biscuits and gravy, and an eye-opening cup of coffee or two.
Friday morning’s weather for the 35th annual breakfast, which serves as an unofficial kickoff to stock show and rodeo season, was practically perfect. Temperatures in the low 60s kept things cool and crowds large. Even by 5 a.m., lines had formed for the shuttle buses to carry folks from the nearby Rialto Cinema parking lot to the dance hall at the corner of I-35 and Loop 410.
But people of all ages weren’t there just for the food. Some waited to get their picture taken with Ronald McDonald or inside an old time jail cell. Live country music filled the air, and Pioneer Flour Mills handed out samples.
Lining up was the order of the morning, no matter what you wanted: a shuttle ride, a photograph, a cup of coffee or a sausage wrap. The extras, though, helped break up any wait. Still, while people were fed quickly, a few lines managed to stretch more than halfway across the parking lot.
The extensive volunteer crews, some of whom worked overnight to prepare the event, helped keep things rolling. Some sliced bacon, others warmed tortillas. Stations were set up for people to stuff sausage patties into biscuits or stuff tortillas with barbecue beef, all in the name of feeding people something good in a quick and efficient manner.
Will Thornton of the culinary school at St. Philip’s College was on hand, as he has been for the past 16 years. He brought with him more than 40 volunteers from among the student body, chefs in training who wanted the chance to gain some experience cooking and serving people as quickly as they could.
He was surprised with the turnout, since school has only been in session for one week now. But he sent out an email asking for help, and people just showed up. A few late sleepers (if you could call 5 a.m. late) were supposed to join in as soon they could get there.
All help is welcome at the event, because the event could not run without them, the event’s board of directors has said regularly.
The Cowboy Breakfast’s website ran the following chart of what was expected to be served:
10,000 Johnsonville Bratwurst sausage wraps
- 10,000 Kiolbassa sausage and eggs tacos
- 6,000 Kiolbassa chorizo and egg tacos
- 2,500 servings of Pioneer Biscuits and Gravy
- 8,000 Pioneer Biscuits and Kiolbassa Sausage
- 2,000 Beef Taquitos and 2000 Chicken Taquitos by Garcia Foods
- 4,000 Garcia Foods Barbacoa Tacos
- 10,000 Rudy’s BBQ beef tacos
- 10,000 Delicious tamales
- 8,000 Mrs. Baird’s sweet rolls
- 5,000 pints of Oak Farms milk and orange juice
- 15,000 cups of McDonald’s special roast coffee