The 1836 Chuckwagon Race is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Diamond B Ranch, about 10 miles north of Palestine on Farm-to-Market Road 321. Gates open today, and activities are set to run through Sunday, according to the race website.
“This whole event is kind of like a horse and wagon event. (People) bring a horse and wagon and trail ride,” organizer Moon Swanson said.
The race, which is sanctioned by The National Championship Chuckwagon Race and The Texas Chuckwagon Racing Association, has been in the works for about three years.
Swanson said the first several times he went to the National Championship Chuckwagon Races in Clinton, Ark., he wanted to promote it in Texas. As of Tuesday morning, about 150 contestants were entered in the race.
He said there are five classes of wagons, including two classes of mule wagons and a “buckboard looking wagon.”
“It's super exciting,” Swanson said. “It's really neat to watch.”
He said people can bring their horses, and those who don't have a race spot are encouraged to bring lawn chairs so they can watch.
When attendees aren't watching races, there are other activities to enjoy.
Additionally, he said the ranch has a farm store where people can buy beef and other merchandise. There also will be various clinics, Dutch oven biscuit cooking classes, a horse-pulled plow demonstration and plenty of entertainment including karaoke Thursday night and performers throughout the week, such as Tin Top Road, Bulletproof, the Kimberly Dunn Band and Adam Brown & The Triple Crown Band.
Swanson said the event is open to anyone, and people are coming from across East Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. He is expecting anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 people attending the event.
He said a family from Montana also is coming, as well as a family from Australia.
The wagon racers are mainly coming from Arkansas and Oklahoma, he said, but people will bring wagons to trail ride on.
Swanson said the ultimate purpose of the event is to try to promote Texas history and commemorate Texas' independence.
“We want to promote cowboy culture. We want to promote Texas history. We want young people to have a good time and see kind of a western lifestyle. We kind of want to promote the days of old and want to promote wagons,” Swanson said, adding there will be an empty wagon to honor those who died at the Alamo.
Swanson said he hopes it eventually turns into the biggest equine gathering and western event in Texas.
“Come have a great time (and) ride your horses and wagons,” he said.