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Art&Seek Jr: Fun in Cowtown (No Cows Required)

Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself. Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

While I was having lunch with a friend in Fort Worth the other day, I was reminded of a call I received recently from an out-of-town producer looking for help with an upcoming shoot in Dallas. I’ve been in production for a whole lotta years (more than what I’m willing to reveal here), and I’ve gotten these types of calls before. But this one really took the cake in the Texas stereotypes department.

No cows, just kids, will be running at the Cook’s Children’s 5K as part of the Cowtown Marathon this weekend. Photo: Cowtown Marathon

Almost immediately it became clear to me that the New York producer on the line had never stepped foot in our fair city, because her idea of Dallas was based on images of Texas straight out of a circa 1950s Western.  No joke.

She explained that she was planning a video shoot that involved elementary children from Dallas schools and she needed several locations of “typical” Dallas scenes. “You know,” she said, “just ordinary Texas stuff like oil wells and longhorn cows. And since we’re shooting at Neiman Marcus in the morning, it would be great if they were close to downtown.” When she added that she wanted to get shots of the kids roping the cows I was sure I was being punk’d by my co-workers.

As it turned out, she was serious as a heart attack, so I had the unfortunate task of dashing her production plan by bringing Dallas into the 21st century. I told her that, as far as I knew, there weren’t any oil wells within the city limits and the only longhorns, short of the metal ones at Pioneer Plaza, were the five at Fuel City on I-30. That being said, I’d be surprised if the owner would allow them to be roped by professionals, let alone school children. And while we’re on the subject, it’s doubtful any of the kids she’d lined up had ever even seen a longhorn, much less knew how to rope one. These are city kids, after all.  She confessed that she just assumed all kids in Texas rode horses and knew how to rope. Really? I had to hold my tongue to keep from saying, “yeah, well, us folks down here in Texas decided a while back to stop teachin’ ropin’ and ridin’ in school and to just stick to the important stuff like readin’ and ’cifering.” But that would have been mean and sarcastic, so I gave her the names of the nice people at the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau and she became their problem.

I suppose she might have had better luck with the cow part in Fort Worth. Their daily longhorn cattle drive through the Stockyards is a huge draw for tourists and locals alike. But even in the Stockyards, the roping part still would have been left to professionals. Longhorns and city kids are generally a bad idea.

Fort Worth has embraced (and done a very good job of marketing) its Western heritage, but it is so much more than cows. If you want a day out of fun with a little culture thrown into the mix, Fort Worth is a sure bet.

Here some picks for fun in Cowtown this weekend with no roping required:

Leave the boots at home, put on your running shoes and head to the Fort Worth Cultural District for the 35th Annual Cowtown Marathon on Saturday. No, I’m not suggesting a marathon for the tinies. But the Cook Children’s 5K, which is just for kids, sounds like tons of fun for those energizer bunnies in your house. The race starts at 9:30 a.m., and all entrants will receive a T-shirt and a goodie bag.

Little girls and their daddies can don their best 50s clothes and rock around the clock at a good old fashion sock hop at Ballet Center of Fort Worth Saturday night. The daddy-daughter dance, put on by Ballet Frontier of Texas, also features a raffle. Plus, you can also grab a burger from Yum-Yum! food truck while you’re there.

If making art is what the wee ones crave, then you won’t want to miss the free Family Festival: Art at Your Fingertips at the Kimbell Art Museum on Saturday. There will be loads of opportunities to delve into clay and other handmade activities for all ages. If you would rather keep your hands clean, there will also be live performances inspired by artworks on view at the museum.

Of course, if the kids still want to see a longhorn and get in touch with their Texas roots, by all means stop by the Fort Worth Stockyards. The daily cattle drives are twice daily at 11:30 and 4.

Therese Powell is an Art&Seek calendar coordinator and KERA-TV producer. She spends most of her free time seeking out adventures for her 7-year-old daughter, Rose. Tell us about your quirky kid adventures by leaving a comment. Or e-mail Therese at tpowell@kera.org.