The annual Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering rolls into the Fort Worth Stockyards today for the 29th year.
Cowboys and cowgirls in chuckwagons left Jacksboro on Monday for the 60-mile, five-day journey to Cowtown.
The event is a fall favorite for thousands, and this year they’ll see something new.
Steagall, famous recording artist, songwriter, actor, host and official Cowboy Poet of Texas will be immortalized in a new bronze sculpture to be unveiled on Saturday. It’s a gift from his friends.
"We went together and essentially, gave this to him for his 80th birthday," said Bruce Greene, a decades long friend and the artist behind the project.
"It’s overwhelming, hard for me to explain and express," Steagall said as he watched crews build the base on which the statue will stand.
Ironic that a man whose life is centered around words can be at a loss for them. Yet he quickly and passionately speaks about the working cowboy he loves and the value passed among them through generations.
"A real cowboy is not gonna brag on himself. He might want you to pay a little attention to his horse but if you want to know how good a cowboy is, just watch him. He’ll show you," Steagall told NBC 5.
Steagall, 80, has shown for decades he is the real deal, a real cowboy whose sculpted likeness will stand tall in front of the Cowtown Coliseum in the heart of the Stockyards.
Greene started the project a year ago.
"Everyone agrees we got the likeness we're looking for," Greene smiled.
The 8x8 sculpture will show Steagall sitting on Apollo, his favorite horse, and waving.
It’s how Steagall rides into the Stockyards every year, leading the chuckwagons as they end their trail ride to start his annual Cowboy Gathering.
Greene wants that wave to be a message to everyone who sees the Steagall sculpture.
"Our western culture welcomes you. Welcome to Fort Worth. Welcome to this place that is special to our culture. We welcome you," Greene said.
For him and so many others, no one can do that better than Red Steagall.
"I’ve watched people who recognize Red, and he represents us so beautifully," Greene said. "For me, Red Stegall is the ambassador of our American West to the world."
The gates to the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering open at 10 Friday morning and the chuckwagons arrive at noon.
The bronze statue of Steagall will be unveiled Saturday afternoon at 1:15.