They came. They mooed. They didn’t escape.
This year’s Washington State Fair Western Rodeo Parade and cattle drive drew the usual laughter and cheers from spectators, but, unlike past years, no livestock got loose.
That was good news for John Growney, stock contractor for the Washington State Fair Rodeo, who had admitted before the parade that he was probably more skittish than the animals.
“When you start relaxing around livestock that’s when something bad happens,” he said.
Whether the herd of 40 Corriente cattle stayed together was dependent on there being no gaps along the parade route, he said.
That’s where volunteers come in. Growney estimated nearly 100 people from the senior activity center lined the route to keep the cattle from running amok through downtown Puyallup.
They also were there to keep spectators on the curb.
“They’re going to be running for those horses. Kids love horses,” volunteer Lois Maass said before the parade.
Maass joined Pat Callinksy along the route before the cattle arrived. Wearing a straw cowboy hat, Callinksy said she was hoping for a bit of excitement.
“I’d like to see a little ruckus,” the Puyallup native joked.
At least twice before, the animals have strayed from the designated route. In 2009, the herd went different directions and two head of cattle found themselves inside a convenience store.
Another time, one wandered into an antique shop, said the herd’s owner Gerald Bruhn.
That didn’t happen this year, although a couple of frisky cattle drew laughter from spectators.
And as the herd neared its final turn, one steer stopped to nibble on some grass before being rounded up by one of the six cowboys in charge of keeping the animals in line.
Once the animals turned onto Second Street, they ran alongside a line of cheering students from All Saints Catholic School. It’s a school tradition to attend the parade and cattle drive each year, said teacher Julie Kelly.
The students cheered as the cattle neared their final destination: a green pen across the street from the fairgrounds.
With the animals safely behind the gate, the cowboys tipped their hats, congratulated each other on a job well done and rode off into the morning.