From target shooting on horseback to trail riding and authentic Dutch oven cooking lessons, Diamond B Ranch in Neches is host this week to a variety of outdoor recreation in the 1836 Chuckwagon Race.

For the past three years, event organizer Moon Swanson has hosted the race, an eight-day event that covers almost every aspect of cowboy life.

"We center this event on Texas Independence Day weekend," Swanson said. "We just like to share Texas History. … Preserve and promote our western heritage. We do it on that week, regardless of the weather."

The ranch has a country store, which is open every Saturday of the year, where they sell their grass-fed beef and vegetables from the garden. There are also food trucks on hand for those who don't feel like cooking.

"It's kind of like, I don't know, Sturgess, but with horses instead of the bikes," Lorilee Lovell, of Alexandria, Louisiana, said. "We're horse lovers, No. 1. We have our horses, our campers, we're all likeminded people. Everybody loves their horses more than their husbands."

Lovell brought her two grandchildren, hoping to increase their love of the outdoors. This year is Lovell's first visit, but she attends the Chuckwagon nationals every year in Clinton, Arkansas.

Even after a week of particularly bad, wintry weather, Swanson is optimistic that visitors will continue to turn up. Last year, the event saw more than 2,000 visitors by Swanson's estimation.

"It makes pretty good watching when there's muddy tracks," Swanson said.

Diamond B Ranch doesn't just host the event, they participate as well. On Wednesday morning, Swanson, whose family owns the ranch, already had his chuckwagon lined up and ready for the weekend's races.

"We got chuck wagon races scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.," Swanson said. "This year we're doing a new petting zoo for the kids, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m."

Julie Tupy brought out her 5-year-old daughter, June, who was ready to play. Before exploring, she grabbed her toy shovel and began clearing cow patties away from their RV.

Ms. Tupy hand-painted her eclectic RV, named the Bluegrass Bears, which includes a map of Texas marked with every event she's attended with friends and family.



What: 1838 Chuckwagon RaceWhen: Friday, Saturday, SundayWhere: Diamond B Ranch, Texas Highway 155, NechesCost: Camping spots are $20 per person, per day. Day passes are $10 per day, children 12 and under get in free.More Information: For full schedule of events, visit, or call 903-721-9111.



Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on The Murder Tapes, Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.