One of Texas' biggest zydeco trail rides is coming up this weekend in Beaumont at the Bill Pickett Trail Riders 9th Annual Trail Ride, Zydeco Festival & Rodeo.
Zydeco trail rides are festivals that celebrate African American Western ranching heritage and the zydeco music that flows out of southeast Texas and Louisiana. Along with zydeco concerts on Friday and Saturday nights, a band will play during Saturdayâ€™s trail ride through the roads of the Cheek area. There will also be a full rodeo on Sunday.
Donâ€™t have a horse? No problem. You could potentially borrow one, or ride in one of the party wagons that follow the trail ride route.
"The overall purpose is to educate and let people know and be aware of the Creole heritage, food, and music," says Acynthia Villery, the event producer. "What makes ours different is we have the rodeo. A lot of our cowboys cross over from trail-riding into rodeo."
Born in Travis County in 1870, Bill Pickett was an African American cowboy who developed the bulldogging technique that became a popular rodeo competition (also known as steer wrestling). The Bill Pickett Trail Riders is a group dedicated to helping at-risk youth and youth organizations that participate in rodeo.
The upcoming event is "a historical weekend where we teach people who don't know about our culture&emdash;the food, the music, how important the drives were back in the days," Acynthia says.
Of course, the music isn't a thing of the past. The bands on the Friday schedule are Leon Chavis & The Zydeco Flames, and Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band.
On Saturday, Brian Jack & The Zydeco Gamblers will perform along the trail ride, and Lil Nate & The Zydeco Big Timers will close out the night. On Sunday, J Paul Jr. and the Zydeco Nubreeds play after the rodeo.
Photos courtesy of Bill Pickett Trail Riders