Thursday, January 2, 2014

An Afternoon at the Arizona National Livestock Show!

Last weekend we ventured out into the wild and woolly world of the Arizona National Livestock Show. If you love animals, and food and want to get a little taste of the old west history and culture this is a nice place to spend the day!
Started in 1948, the National Livestock show brings breeders and exhibitors from all over the west to show their livestock. That includes, sheep, swine, goat, poultry, and cattle. 
We didn't make it to all of the events, but we were able to visit the lamb judging competition. Below, is a Hampshire sheep raised for meat. Many of the sheep breeds shown are raised for their wool. It was almost like going to an old beauty salon. Everything from puffy, to curly to long and stringy. All were really beautiful in their own way! (we don't want to make anyone feel bad)
I'm not sure if these are Alpacas or Llamas, I only know that my grandson was very intrigued. We all loved their big brown eyes.

A 4-H member on her way to the show her sheep.
These sheep were huge, some weighing up to 350 lbs.
Next, we were off to the Li'l Buckaroo Rodeo. We chose to watch, and that was just fine with grandson!

The real reason we attended the livestock show was the Chuck Wagon Cook Off! My love of Dutch Oven cooking goes back to a time when my parents and grandparents would gather for family cook outs in the beautiful Arizona deserts. My great grandfather was a cattle rancher in Superior Arizona and cooked many meals out on the trail. Back then, if you didn't know how to cook with cast iron you were not a real cowboy! There is nothing like a good meal around a camp fire! 
Dutch Oven cooking begins with a big fire. While the wood is burning down to coals, set up your camp kitchen and begin to peel potatoes, cut onions and chop up your beef. It really was an all day event to prepare this meal. These people were experts and made it look easy to cook this way. But, I can tell you that it takes lots of practice and many burnt to a crisp cobblers to get it right!
You've got to chop a lot of wood,
and peel your fruit for a cobbler (or you can open a can of peaches too). Make sure you tell a few jokes about the effect that beans have on a cowboy... something about your whistling backside...
Whistle a little as you roll the dough.
Spread your coals under and over the pots. It creates an outdoor oven.
Camp life.

Listening in on some of the old stories.

There is a fine art to regulating the coals. Not too hot and not too many. Spread em' out a little.
For ten dollars you get to mozy around the camp wagons and choose where you'd like to eat. Read the menus and chat with the cooks and that will help you make the right choice! Get in line and stay put, dinner is served at noon. This peach cobbler is almost ready!
Each camp wagon team had a slightly different menu. Although, it had to include beef, potatoes, beans, rolls or biscuits, and a cobbler.
My oh my, it was really good! The best rolls I've ever tasted!
A simply lovely day out and about on a beautiful winter day in Phoenix, Arizona!
In my opinion, this little event is one of the best kept secrets in the Valley. Thank you to all of the friendly Chuck Wagon Cooks, and all of the members of the Arizona National Livestock Show! We will be back year!                                                                                                                                 
                                                           Happy New Year!


Shonda said...

How fun! Those are llamas. :) We have four and they are great fun! (Shhh, Much nicer than alpacas...)Hope to see your farm sometime!

Sweet Life Garden said...

Ah, thank you Shonda! Yes, I would love for you to come by, just let me know when!

Unknown said...

I have followed your blog for a while now. I found it funny that my cousin, Mark Wilkins, is on your blog. He was one of the cooks at the livestock festival. He and my dad do the dutch oven cooking. Small world.

Castle Lough said...

Your blog is really beautiful! I really enjoyed reading your post and seeing how food was cooked in the past :-)

Sweet Life Garden said...

Thanks Benjamin! Tell your cousin to stop by I'd love to have a cook out in the garden!
Castle, I'm glad you enjoyed it! We had a fantastic time!