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The cows - well, longhorns - are coming home

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

The centerpiece of the Celebrate Bandera Parade has always been a longhorn drive up Main Street - a picture perfect photo op for the Cowboy Capital.

Last year, however, a devastating drought and almost unbearable heat forced the cancellation of the longhorn cattle drive. For the safety of the livestock, personnel at Kerrville's famous YO Ranch opted not to participate. This was the first time since its inception that the longhorns did not open the parade.

This year, however, the longhorns are back - and Bandera's got 'em!

Once again, crowds will line Main Street for chance to see the magnificent Texas longhorns at the head of the annual parade, slated to begin at 11 am, Saturday, Sept. 1.

Bandera's authentic longhorn cattle drive along Main Street takes its place as one of the premier entries in the Celebrate Bandera Parade.

Presented by the Running-R Guest Ranch, the cattle drive honors Bandera's rich cowboy history, earning it the moniker, "The Cowboy Capital of the World!"

A new addition this year will be celebrity trail bosses, San Antonio's KENS 5 chief meteorologist Bill Taylor and sports director Joe Reinagel.

While growing up in northern New Jersey, Taylor's idea of "down south" was Virginia - then he moved to Cajun Counry in southwest Louisiana.

After graduating from McNeese State University in Lake Charles with a degree in journalism, Taylor began his television career at NBC affiliate station, KPLC. He enrolled in the meteorology program at Mississippi State University and worked in Montgomery, Alabama for WSFA-TV.

In 1996, Taylor made the move to the Lone Star State as weekend weather prognosticator for KENS 5. Now, he brings Hill Country residents the good, the bad and the downright ugly of South Central Texas weather every night at 10 pm.

A Texas boy, born and raised in Alice, Reinagel attended Southwest Texas State University, studying business management. In 1994, he broke into the world of broadcast at KGNB radio in New Braunfels. Three years later, Reinagel moved on to San Antonio, where he worked at KSAT-KTFM.

In 1997, he accepted a position as sportscaster at KENS 5, and in November 2000 was named KENS 5 sports director.

"We're so excited to have Bill Taylor and Joe Reinagel as part of our 2012 Celebrate Bandera Longhorn Trail Drive," said event coordinator Genie Strickland. "Their faces have become very familiar to everyone in this KENS 5 viewing area. Give them a big Bandera 'yee haw' when they pass in the parade."

For tenderfeet, here's "Cattle Drives: 101."

During the 1870s, herds of cattle were staged on the banks of the Medina River before hired drovers "headed 'em up and moved 'em out" in a northerly route. Along the way, South Texas cattle herds were joined by others with the combined herds collectively making their way to railheads Kansas and feedlots in Illinois and Nebraska.

To hire the cowboys necessary for the cattle drives north, trail bosses routinely set up shop in the local banks and mercantiles of dusty little cow towns, on the lookout for willing men - and boys - willing to eat dust for about $35 a month.

Cattle drives to northern markets hit the trail in early spring after grasses sprouted and continued through the summer. A herd of 2,500 to 3,000 cattle was considered a good size for long drives. Daily travel of 10 to 12 miles was governed by the availability of grass and water - the object was to fatten the cattle or to at least keep the "beeves'" weight stable during their travels.

A typical trail driving outfit consisted of a trail boss, whose word was law; 10 to 15 hands, each with their own horses; a wrangler, responsible for the extra horses - aka remuda; and a chuck wagon cookie, who oversaw the vittles.

This year marks Celebrate Bandera's 10th cattle drive up Main Street.

Celebrate Bandera is proud to honor the area's significance as a staging site for over six million longhorns that traveled up the Western Trail.

These cattle and the men who drove them participated in a relatively short historical period, but one that continues to resonate today.

"Don't miss this chance to experience the cowboy lifestyle and a day in the Wild West in downtown Bandera," urged an event spokesman.

For those who would like to participate in an actual cattle drive, the Running R Guest Ranch, offers cattle drives throughout the year. For more information, visit www.rrranch.com.

Pictured: The longhorns are back! The cattle drive will kick off the 10th annual Celebrate Bandera Parade at 11 am, Saturday, Sept. 1.

Left: Bill Taylor Right: Joe Reinagel