We needed to get out after a stay-at-home order followed by a self-imposed semi-isolation due to COVID. Like most of our road trips and day trips, this one started with a very mature decision. I decided I couldn’t live without seeing the cow sculptures outside the Southwest Dairy Museum in Sulphur Springs, Texas, which I had seen online. I like cows a lot.
Off to Sulphur Springs, Texas
We set off due northeast. Sulphur Springs lies between Dallas and Texarkana, on the border with Arkansas. It’s about an hour-and-a-half’s drive from home, give or take, along Interstate 30.
The Southwest Dairy Museum is very easy to spot, just look out for a giant Jersey cow and a giant Holstein cow. You can’t miss them. What I did miss was the planning stage. It occurred to me to check the museum’s opening times as we were approaching it. It’s closed on Saturdays and Sundays. I don’t know what’s the logic behind it, but there you have it.
How we happened upon a horse show
We noticed that the car park of the civic centre adjacent to the museum was busy. We moseyed over there. No need to hurry, it’s Saturday noon in the countryside.
A gentleman told us that there was a horse show and a cattle show going on. Could we go in and watch? Go right in, he said with the elongated vowels of the Texas drawl.
And we did. We put on our face masks as we entered the arena. Practically no one else was wearing one. I felt like we stood out as city folk, although that’s what we are. There were very few spectators. At times it was just the tow of us. I couldn’t work out whether it was because it was a small event or because of the pandemic.
I know nothing about horses, but I appreciate their beauty. And there was beauty galore in that arena. Most of the handlers were female. I say handlers and not riders because it wasn’t a riding event but a halter class. On the half of the arena closest to us, handlers and horses were practicing their gaits while waiting to be judged.
It was quite warm inside the pavilion. But the handlers stoically looked the part: boots, black pants, white button-down shirts, and rhinestone-studded jackets. And hats, of course.
And a cattle show
After a while, we moved on to the cattle show next door. It was a much bigger pavilion and had air conditioning. There was a larger crowd this time with plenty of space for social distancing, though. Award ribbons were given out among much mooing and bellowing. Here, studded Western belt buckles, jeans, and boots were the norm.
Downtown Sulphur Springs
After lunch, we went in search of the glass bathrooms in the main square. They are two standalone bathroom stalls made of plate glass and blend with their surroundings. No one can see you’re in there, but you can see through the glass from the inside.
The veterans’ memorial is quite big and sobering. It calls for reflection, no doubt about that. But what really stroke a chord was the bronze statue of a wounded veteran with his dog. It’s incredibly moving, and it conveys feeling very effectively.
I didn’t know what to expect, but Sulphur Springs was a lovely surprise. The downtown area is very clean and tidy, well-kept and very charming. I would go back, but I would plan our day trip more carefully. Although, sometimes, lack of planning may lead to great unexpected experiences.