For Marty Richter, the Fort Worth Stock Show has been one big family affair.
His late father-in-law, Cass Edwards, served as vice-president. His mother-in-law, Jenny Beth Edwards, and his wife, Mary Martha, chaired the Junior League Program Sales effort at the rodeo. His son, Martin, is the co-chairman of the Calf Scramble Committee.
One daughter, Meredith Davis, serves on a committee that raises money for lamb showing ¬– Ladies on the Lamb. His other daughter, Mary Margaret, serves on the Stock Show’s organizing committee and is very active with the rodeo contestants’ hospitality area.
Richter, 63, a Fort Worth cattle rancher, said he relishes having his family so heavily involved at the Stock Show.
“It’s great because my kids and I are real close,” Richter said. “So, it’s just a neat deal to be able to spend that much time with your kids.”
Richter has had other close family members serve at the Stock Show over the years. His late father-in-law, Cass Edwards, served as vice-president. His mother-in-law, Jenny Beth Edwards, and his wife, Mary Martha, chaired the Junior League Program Sales effort at the rodeo.
Over the past four decades, Richter has been involved in a wide range of roles at the Stock Show, ranging from competing in the rodeo as a bronc rider to serving on the Calf Scramble Committee to serving on the Stock Show’s Executive Committee.
“Marty’s one of those guys who has done a little bit of everything out here,” said Philip Schutts, a longtime key Stock Show organizer. “There’s a few of us here like that. Marty actually started with the Parade Committee, and then he was one of the one’s who formed the Greeting Committee. Of course, he was one of the originators of the Calf Scramble 30 years ago. He also once rode bareback horses and has a great love for the rodeo and of course, the Fort Worth Rodeo. We have such an older rodeo and it’s a part of our Western heritage, and of course, Marty is a rancher and into cowboy life. It’s what he does. So, to him, it’s just another day on the ranch.”
Richter’s first involvement with the Stock Show Rodeo was in the mid-1970s when he competed as a bareback bronc rider. He also went to work for Billy Minick who was the Stock Show’s Rodeo livestock producer in that era.
While working for Minick, Richter regularly attended some of the biggest rodeos in the country in cities such as Houston, San Antonio and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“It worked out good for me because I don’t like to sit still,” Richter said. “I was busy. I Ioved being around livestock because that’s what I do for a living.”
Richter said he opted to shut down his rodeo career shortly after he was wed to Mary Martha in 1978. He said he wanted to be certain he could support a family. At that point, it became natural to become involved in Stock Show Rodeo committees. He had married into a family that was very involved in the Stock Show.
Richter served on the Parade Committee in the early 1980s. At that time, he also served on the newly formed Greeting Committee, which helped incoming cattle show exhibitors.
“Back then, it was checking people in who were showing steers and heifers, but then it went onto an equine committee,” Richter said. “That was helpful because you had people who had been driving all night, who would pull up to the Stock Show and they were greeted and helped out by a person who looks very official. It just sped the whole process up of helping them get checked in.”
In the late 1980s, he and longtime Stock Show organizer Charlie Geren, now a Texas state representative from District 99 and owner of Railhead, became founding members of the newly formed Calf Scramble Committee. For almost three decades, Richter and several other longtime Stock Show organizers guided boys and girls as they competed in the Calf Scramble event.
The Calf Scramble is conducted during the rodeo performances. A group of kids enter the arena and are asked to chase down the calves. A kid must mug a calf and put a halter on the animal and then lead it into a marked square area in the middle of the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum Arena. Once a child has completed the task, he or she is awarded $500 that can be used to purchase a heifer to be shown at the Stock Show the following year.
Richter said he has had a lot of fulfilment from serving.
“I’ll be in some random, Podunk little town at a help-yourself station getting diesel in my pickup and I’ll have some person come up to me and say, ‘Hey, you’re that calf scramble guy,’ ” Richter said. “They’ll always say, ‘You guys go a good job. We really appreciate it.’ ”
In recent years, Richter and other longtime members of the Calf Scramble Committee have all but turned their duties over to younger members. One of them is Richter’s son, Martin, who serves as co-chairman of the Calf Scramble Committee.
“It tough to lay back watch, but it’s time to let those younger men do it – we have a great crew of younger guys out there,” Richter said “They do a heck of a job.”
Martin Richter said his father is adamant about serving at the Stock Show because “it benefits so many people in the community. My dad’s the type of person who will give people the shirt off of his back. If anybody needs anything, he’s going to drop what he’s doing and try to help them. He’s a very helping person. I’m very fortunate to have him as my father. That’s for sure.”
Mary Margaret Richter said her father has a deep love for the Fort Worth Stock Show and what it offers.
“It’s just kind of part of his life,” she said. “He just lives it and breathes it. I think it encompasses two major themes that he loves, which is the rodeo and Fort Worth. He’s also such a people person. He loves being around people and he loves helping the kids. With the Calf Scramble, for example, what happens here is just a small part of it. It’s a whole year of kids raising the animals that they purchase and the stories that go along with that. It’s really something that carries on each year. We run into people all the time who say what an impact that the Calf Scramble had on their life and what a game changer it was for them.”
Meredith Davis said her father loves working at the Stock Show because “it’s just a great event for Fort Worth – it’s community, it’s family and it’s just a great place to be. In the grand scheme of things, it’s all about the kids, raising money for the kids, and I think that’s the reason my dad’s so passionate about it.”
Matt Brockman, the Stock Show’s publicity director, said Richter has made a big impact.
“Marty is one of those leaders who has been involved in what you see here today such as the Greeting Committee, or the Calf Scramble,” Brockman said. “Things like that are because of people like Marty. You’re always going to see them walking around with a smile and giving people a handshake, but what the average person doesn’t realize is that 30 years ago they started the Greeting Committee that has lots of volunteers and the Calf Scramble Committee that’s raised lots of money. That’s because you had people like Marty and other key leaders stepped up to the plate and laid the groundwork to take the Stock Show into the 21st century.”
Marty Richter said the Stock Show Rodeo thrives because it has a great leadership, staff and volunteers.
“We’ve got the greatest leadership in the world,” Richter said. “I have to brag on Ed Bass’ leadership [as board chairman]. We’ve got Brad Barnes [president and general manager] who has just done a fabulous job out here. He’s just taken this thing to another level. We also have Bruce McCarty who is second in command. All of the office staff is great. Our large staff of volunteers do a first-class job. You also have to give lots of credit to stock contractors Neal and Jim Gay for making sure there are even pens of livestock for contestants regardless of the performance.”
“We also have a great facility, and we’re about to have a new and better facility [a new rodeo arena in 2020], thanks the hard work of Ed Bass.”
Organizers say the new arena will seat about 9,500 spectators for rodeo performances. That compares with Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, the rodeo’s present venue, which seats about 5,700.
When the new arena opens in three years, it’s safe to predict that the Richter family still will be in the middle of the action.
“We have three generations involved in the Fort Worth Stock Show, but my son Martin has a 2-year-old daughter and Meredith has a 5-year-old son, and they’re going to be right behind us,” Richter said “We have three generations involved so far, but when you consider my grandkids who are coming on, it’s like we’re going to blink and have four generations of involvement in the Stock Show.”