The cattle drive in Paso Robles is an annual event that kicks off the California Mid-State Fair. The Wednesday morning affair is well-known and brings out people – both visitors and locals – to watch the parade each year in anticipation of the opening of the fair that day. However, this grand occasion won’t be happening in 2015. Cows won’t be coming home.
The yearly cattle drive see cowboys and cowgirls on their horses headed by a convoy of celebrants, which usually includes the Mid State Fair’s queen and her procession along with city leaders. The horses and cattle clip clop their way from Hwy 46 East and Golden Hill Rd down to Union Rd. They wind their way down Union to the 13th Street overpass and then turn right onto Riverside Avenue where they eventually head into the fairgrounds.
After at first having no statement on why the cancellation, the only explanation given on the California Mid-State Fair’s website was due to “logistical reasons”.
The cattle drive hearkens back to a bygone era when Paso Robles and vicinity were as well known for almond orchards and cattle ranches as vineyards are now.
As a fan of the cattle drive having watched nearly everyone for almost a decade, the local gathering of neighbors down on Union Road will be missed by many. In fact, the neighborhood crowds had grown every year, from the first time I saw it until recently. This is disappointing to say the least.
Even though we’re only five minutes from Downtown, like a old friend and neighbor used to say, it’s like country-living in the city. And the cattle drive was one of those events that brought that across. Everyone would wait patiently and as the crowd grew in anticipation, finally seeing the beautifully groomed horses pulling restored wagons with dignitaries including the aforementioned queen and her court – well, it was a sight to behold for this former big city guy.
The cattle didn’t always cooperate – as cowhands head up the hill in search of cattle that bolted from the herd.
A couple different years saw a few cattle get loose and head into the hills above Union – this was hilarious to watch, although I’m sure it wasn’t fun for the cowhands who had to race off and round up the cattle back to the herd. It was entertaining, as was the entire happening.
The cows coming home through the streets of Paso Robles was a unique event, so whatever the real reason for why it didn’t happen in 2015, hopefully in years to come, the cattle drive will be restored to its rightful place as the start of the ‘Biggest Little Fair’.
Daryle W. Hier