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Stock Show Insider: 81 years at the show

Harry Smith attended his first Fort Worth Stock Show 81 years ago when Cowtown’s annual celebration was in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

He was 11 and the year was 1936. The rodeo was conducted at the Cowtown Coliseum.

Smith said he didn’t have enough money to attend the rodeo. So, he found a bull rider he knew who talked a guard into letting him in.

“It was good, a whole lot different than it is today,” Smith said of the rodeo. “They had a lot of horse shows. But I was a kid and thought it was the best thing in the world to go to Northside and go to the rodeo.”

Smith has seen many rodeos at the Stock Show since then.

“Since that time, I’ve only missed three years—that was 1943 when they did not have the Stock Show because of the war, and in 1944 and 1945, I was in the Pacific in World War II.”

Smith, 92, a retired railroad man, worked in the Fort Worth Stock Show’s horse department for more than four decades. Over the years, he’s built lots of lasting friendships. Today, at 92, Smith arrives at the Stock Show early in the morning and visits throughout the day.

“I show up out here about 6:30 or 6:45 [a.m.] and I usually go home around 3 o’clock, before I go on overtime,” Smith said jokingly. “At 92, I still have to get my rest.”

How long will Smith continue to hang out at the Stock Show? He says it’s indefinite.

“For the last 7 or 8 years, I’ve been saying I’m going to quit coming out,” Smith said. “My wife has been trying to get me to quit. They asked me this year, ‘Are you coming back next year?’ I said, ‘Let’s wait and see. If I’ve got my health, I’ll be here when the show opens and when it closes. I’ll be here all of the time.’”

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