Mudding For Millions

2013 Cattle Baron's Ball

Cattle Baron’s Rollicking Night on the High Plains  |  Photos by Holt Haynsworth
December 23, 2013
Event Date:
April 27, 2013

By Billy Fong

It was literally my first time at the rodeo. As soon as the powers that be at PaperCity asked me to cover Cattle Barons’ Ball, I seized the invite celebrating the 40th anniversary of the iconic fund-raiser. My mind began to wander to scenes from

Ang Lee’s beautiful Brokeback Mountain and cowboys on the range … but don’t let me drift too far.

I’ve wanted to expand my social circle from my bevy of gorgeous, witty, brilliant gal pals — my Dallas swans. I thought, what better place than the CBB’s “Spur on the Fight Against Cancer” to meet someone new. Drawing from famous pairs such as Adam and Eve, Romeo and Juliet, and perhaps Ross Matthews and Gwyneth Paltrow (love the fact that they’re besties and the adorable story of how they met on the red carpet), it was time that Billy Fong met a girl at South Fork. In fact, I planned to bring my OUIJA board to channel Miss Ellie for advice.

My insiders on the Cattle Baron’s Committee were continually texting as they set up the amazing carnival atmosphere that rain was not going to ruin Saturday. However, they did suggest that I not wear anything that I didn’t want to get muddied — most definitely not suede Prada loafers. I knew I was destined to be somewhat of a stranger in a strange land, although I did attempt my own version of cowboy chic, which was a mash-up of Marc Jacobs wellies and some Thom Browne. Lo and behold, the heavens opened up as Uber ferried us up I-75 to Hogge Drive, and I felt like I had chosen wisely to wear rain boots.

If CBB guests had wanted drama, they had it in spades with the wind blowing and the clouds erupting. Conversations seemed even more serious as God provided the pyrotechnics around the scene. The well-booted crowd huddled together beneath the tent, taking turns on the mechanical bull: Doris Jacobs, Barbara Daseke, Piper Wyatt, Capera Ryan, Jill Tananbaum, Meg Florence, Brooke and Blake Hortenstine, Lance and Cheryl Crosby, Chase Morton, Mary Martha Pickens, and Kathy Klingaman. My favorite sighting was actor Josh Henderson — J.R.’s son, JohnRoss, from the Dallas show … well, reboot.

As the booze began to have its effect and I found myself edging closer to riding the mechanical bull, the live auction came to a close, and the downpour had not kept guests from pulling out their checkbooks and bidding high. In addition to the success of the auction, chairs Mary Gill and Brooke Shelby took the stage to announce an anonymous gift of $3.4 million to fund pancreatic cancer research. As if the heavens decided to clap in congratulations, the rain ceased and the lights to the ferris wheel popped on. It was like an ultra-exclusive version of the Texas State Fair with no wait lines for rides and glamorous guests milling about. CBB’s homecoming king and queen have to be Jody and Kristi Bare for signing up first for a ride on the wheel.

After I embarrassed myself by mixing up my Rascal Flatts lyrics (they were rocking out while I was dorking out), I knew it was time to go. I grabbed a few cinnamon rolls and breakfast taquitos that Eddie Deen offered as late-night nosh and summoned Uber for the ride back to reality. I no longer felt like the virgin I was when pulling in to South Fork. It felt like home (which was good, in case we found ourselves trapped in the rain-soaked fields overnight). BTW, I met a new girl. You know who you are, and I am planning on setting up a lunch date soon at Tillman’s for the two of us to recount our fateful moment locking eyes across the dance floor. A perfect night at Cattle Baron’s Ball.


So, life is a highway. What car are you in, and what’s your dream road trip?

“Without a doubt, a McLaren. The trip would be for leaf peeping through the New England countryside in the Fall.” — Rachel Trowbridge

“Top down Porsche 911, cruising to Malibu.” — Cindy Hanson

“I’ve been eyeing the GMC Toprider. (In fact, I wish we had one tonight to spin out in the fields behind the tent.) I would have an Irish lass by my side, exploring the rolling hills outside of Dublin.” — Chase Morton

“A hot black Corvette. I want a scene from Knight & Day, tearing down the highway to the Mexican border.” — Gillian Breidenbach

“A motorhome. Heading to Idalou, Texas, to check out the legendary cotton farm.” — Brynn Isom

“Well, obviously, I am in my brand new Jaguar ... and aren’t we all heading to the Promised Land?” — Capera Ryan