Stockyards City, with parades led by herds of red-and-white speckled, 1,000-pound longhorns, is steeped in more than a century of history, but the district has broadened its iconic stature in national livestock commerce to encompass dining, shopping, art, music and special events.
A tourist destination, Stockyards City Main Street is both a state organization and a business improvement zone within Oklahoma City, says Kelli Payne, the first Stockyards City Main Street director with a hands-on agriculture background.
“I grew up on those bricks, selling cattle,” she says. “The Stockyards sells half a million head of cattle every year and the general public is welcome at cattle sales. We are the only working stockyards of this size that is still tied to a historic district in the entire world. The beef industry is just that huge in Oklahoma.”
The Stockyards offers authentic cowboy goods and the opportunity to dine at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, just like former President George H.W. Bush (and Ronald Reagan before he became president).
“There is Cattlemen’s Event Center, and now we have Rodeo Opry relocated in the district as well as specialty boutiques and a newly opened saloon,” Payne says. “There’s some room for expansion but mostly just a few vacant lots. There are still many of the original businesses that have been serving Western lifestyles here for decades.”
In Old West tradition, a scantily clad lady is the subject of a large painting over the 50-foot bar at McClintock Saloon and Chop House. Locally owned, the chophouse boasts “an unforgettable experience” with menu highlights such as bourbon pork belly and a signature side dish of fried angel hair onions. Sidle up to the daily lunch buffet at The Longhorn Cafe or find an array of spicy Mexican fare at Los Comales. At Panaderia La Herradura, choose from among 100 varieties of pastry bursting with Central American flavors.
Cowboys and those choosing classic Western flair in their cold-weather gear seek out Mustang Creek Alpaca Co., owned by Kathy Fleming. The shop carries alpaca-related clothing and materials, including socks, scarves, yarns, blankets, long johns, sweaters, coats, vests and slippers, as well as made-in-Oklahoma gifts.
“You just have to touch the alpaca items,” Fleming says. “It’s known as ‘Mother Nature’s finest fiber’ because it’s warm, yet cool against your skin while being very soft and luxurious.”
An avid knitting and crochet enthusiast, Fleming fell in love with alpaca fleece after she followed a “Yarn for Sale” sign while she vacationed in Oregon. Before long, she had a flock of the critters that needed to earn their keep, so a business was born in 2016. Stockyards City, with its emphasis on livestock-related merchandise, was the perfect spot because “people from literally all over the world visit the Stockyards,” she says.
National Saddlery, founded in 1926, is the state’s oldest working saddle and tack shop and the area’s largest carrier of rodeo gear; it features hand-cut, handmade, high quality leather goods. Cross Bar Gallery, part of the saddle shop, showcases upscale western furniture, jewelry, original art, home decor and accessories as well as custom interior-design services.
For children of all ages, perhaps Stockyards Sarsaparilla is the highlight, where a shopper can wander an old-fashioned candy store while munching on free samples of homemade fudge. Western-themed gifts mingle with flavored Arbuckle coffees, taffies and candies. You can also build a six-pack souvenir among more than 350 nostalgic choices of soda pop.
Bonnie Skaggs chose to locate her boutique, Prairie Dust Soaps and Stuff, just across the street from her former employer, National Saddlery.
“Our slogan is ‘dig up a deeper clean’ because our wares are based on Oklahoma clay and scented naturally with ingredients such as oatmeal and cedar,” Skaggs says. “I call this place ‘an artisan apothecary’ because we offer wholesome, handcrafted soaps, candles, balms and bath products, and are developing more all the time.”
Other Stockyards City shops include 4W Western for chic cowgirl apparel, handbags, handcrafted accessories and decor, and Cowtown Company, a boot repair and retail shop. Art found at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse is likely from Jack J. Wells, who also has a gallery on Exchange Avenue. Western fashions are featured at many shops, including Western Wear Outlet, Gellco Clothing & Shoes, and Langston’s Western Wear. For a perfect pair of boots, check out Little Joe’s Boots for personalized service. Old-school chic can be found amid the vintage merchandise at Rusty Chandelier and the wide selections of hats at Shorty’s Caboy Hattery.
The next special event is the St. Patrick’s Parade on March 17. Other yearly Stockyard City events include June’s Wine of the West Festival, the Stockyard Stampede every autumn, various chuck wagon cookouts and Cowboy Christmas.