Officials at the Fort Worth Stockyards are preparing to welcome visitors back over Memorial Day weekend.
Ethan Cartwright with the Stockyards Heritage Development Co. said they did not expect a crowd as large as last year, but safety protocols and COVID-19 precautions will be in place.
“Judging by the way we have seen the market behave, they’re very cautious as most people should be. So, the healthy folks may want to take a stroll around the Stockyards. I would think about 25-50% of the amount of people we had last year, may be around this year,” Cartwright said. “We have plenty of hand sanitizing stations available throughout. We also will giving away [sanitizers] over the weekend, so be sure to wash hands after you touch everything. We also have teams that will be patrolling the 200 acres that we have here.”
Cartwright said there were outdoor picnic tables which will be spaced out, so visitors can eat outdoors if they are not comfortable dining indoors.
For some businesses like Riscky’s BBQ, the weekend could be an opportunity to get business back on track. Assistant general manager Gary Williams said they reopened about two weeks ago and planned to increase capacity to 50% on Friday, as permitted under new state guidelines.
“I think everybody is looking for opportunity to come out and show the support for the Stockyards and the general restaurants in the area,” Williams said. “I think this is going to be the catapult for us setting up Fourth of July, maybe other things helping us for the summer. I’m thoroughly excited that this will be the starting gun for us to generate a lot of excitement to come in this area.”
Since reopening, Williams said they have cleaned around the clock and done their best to follow guidelines. Certain tables inside the restaurant are marked off in order to comply with social distancing and capacity limits.
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This weekend also marks a celebratory one for Lucchese Bootmaker and MB Mercantile & Supply, which are opening up shop along Mule Alley.
Cartwright said the weekend could give businesses a “dry run” for holiday weekends or events in the near future, as the state begins to reopen.
“It’s been 70 days since we have been in the business of hosting 100% of whatever you want to host and it’s wonderful that we’re at 50%,” he said. “It gives everyone a chance to get back in their sense in how to protocol, how to manage crowds, how to bring your staff back in a timely manner.”
On Saturday, officials are also introducing the "Fort Worth Herd Experience" which includes storytelling sessions and Texas longhorn herd.
Though businesses may have their own rules and guidelines inside their establishments, Cartwright said masks are not required to visit the Fort Worth Stockyards grounds as a whole. There will be bandannas available, while supplies last, for people who would like to use them as coverings.
For more information on safety protocols and events, click here.