It’s hard to say exactly where that most famous of verbiage about everything being “bigger in Texas” might have first originated from. Was it a starry-eyed traveler new to these parts; or perhaps a local cowpoke who was schooling some greenhorn on the benefits of the Lone Star State? Whoever it was, they were right on the money. Everything is bigger here, from the wide-brimmed hats to the wide-open spaces; from the rhinestone belt buckles to the saucer-sized chicken fried steaks you can feast on in Sundance Square. Texas and in particular, Fort Worth, have amassed a huge reputation for giving both locals and visitors an experience worthy of that old clichĂ©. And if it’s music and entertainment that you want done up big, then you can pull on your snakeskin boots and bring your rockabilly swagger on down to the one and only place in Cowtown that does it bigger than anyone else: Billy Bob’s Texas.

To say that Billy Bob’s got its start in the early 80’s is both true and a bit of a disservice. The venue that countless Texans scoot their boots to did become one of the biggest entertainment meccas of DFW in 1981. The building itself, however, got its start as far back as 1910 when it originated as an open-air barn space for prize cattle during the burgeoning years of the Fort Worth Stock Show. In fact, the now-famous “slanted” layout of Billy Bob’s floor space owes its design to the cattlemen that first created it (to make animal clean-up a bit easier). The space later morphed into both an airplane plant and a retail store before eventually being re-born into the venue that draws hundreds of thousands of patrons every year.

The reason for that impressive amount of attendance is fairly self-explanatory when you walk through the doors. Some of the most popular artists in country music and beyond have played Billy Bob’s, from icons like Willy Nelson, Hank Williams Jr. and Randy Travis to emerging artists like Ryan Bingham, Hayes Carll, and The Damn Quails. In fact, the club’s Marketing Director Pam Minick even shared an amusing anecdote about past headliner Ringo Starr’s love of both “country music and vintage western shirts”. According to Minick, the fact that “a Beatle played here” is a testament to both Billy Bob’s appeal and the diversity of talent that the club draws year after year.

Not only does Billy Bob’s unique design allow for a large main concert stage (with two smaller stages) and ample recessed seating in the middle of the building to accommodate such talent, but the surrounding areas offer enough variety and diverse forms of entertainment to satisfy everyone from the most hardened of western roughnecks to the youngest of whippersnappers.  After a short walk down the hallway adorned with all manner of country and western memorabilia, you’ll find a large billiards room. Not a few tables, mind you; an entire room. There’s also a Texas-sized gaming area with carnival-style attractions for visitors of all ages. Guests can also commemorate their experience by paying a visit to the eclectic gift shop offering everything from T-shirts and hats to custom jewelry and assorted leather goods.

The piece de resistance however, or as locals would say, the tall hog at the trough, is the gigantic indoor entertainment center that offers up nothing less than live, professional bull riding. You won’t find any mechanical bulls at Billy Bob’s, only the real deal, ridden by some of rodeo’s most accomplished sportsmen. There’s nothing like watching an unassuming cowboy go toe-to-toe with a 1500 pound bull, and Billy Bob’s does it every Friday and Saturday night to a crowd of hundreds of energetic fans. 

If, after all of your cheering and hollering, it’s a taste of Texas cuisine that you’re after, look no further than Billy Bob’s Roadhouse CafĂ©. This down-home eatery offers a veritable smorgasbord of goodness, from hand-cut Texas barbecue with all of the fixins’ to gourmet steaks and seafood that’ll have you happier than a tornado in a trailer park. In fact, we have it on good authority that B.B. King himself (who has also headlined on the main stage) has “a standing order of ribs” shipped to his house from time to time. If that’s not endorsement enough, what else is? Daily and nightly drink specials abound as well, so eager imbibers can bring all their friends and try and topple the record of 13,000 bottles of beer that were once consumed during one of Clint Black’s concert appearances.

Billy Bob’s Texas is a disarmingly rare venue these days; it’s both a rip-roaring honkytonk and a family-friendly entertainment attraction all at the same time. Patrons visiting the Fort Worth Stockyards for the 1st or 100th time can bring the younger guests and enjoy the indoor games and rodeos during the day, while the older folks can kick back in the evening with a good brew and enjoy some of the hottest musical acts in the world. There are even dance lessons conducted by professional instructors for eager women (and brave gentleman) looking to break in that new pair of tight fitting jeans. So, whatever your pleasure on a weekday or weekend night out, the friendly staff at Billy Bob’s will be waiting to offer visitors a bit of good ole’ Texas authenticity.

 - Richard Dennis

Courtesy of Morris Publications/Where Guestbook Fort Worth

1 comment:

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