Thousands turn out for Cowboy Breakfast in San Antonio

Mild weather, free food attracts huge crowd to Cowboys Dancehall parking lot


Tens of thousands of people woke up earlier than usual on a Friday to crowd into Cowboys Dancehall parking lot for some free food and fun at the annual Cowboy Breakfast.

Starting at 4:30 a.m., more than 300 volunteers served a Texas-sized menu that included plenty of breakfast tacos, biscuits and gravy, tamales and plenty of coffee and orange juice to wash it down.

As temperatures hovered in the 60's, the breakfast recorded what may have been its best morning ever weather-wise. Despite some patchy fog and drizzle, crowds showed up in droves to annual event.

"The weather is really surprisingly nice. There's no rain, it's not cold," said Brooklyn Dippo, Miss San Antonio.

In fact, some San Antonians even chose to wear shorts to the event.

"It's been warm the whole time and it's getting warmer," said Reanna Galicia, who opted to wear shorts.

The better weather, however, did mean longer lines for those who wanted tacos.

"There were a lot more people I felt like, because the lines were longer," said Linda Yang, who makes the Cowboy Breakfast an annual event.

Even though the cooking started at 2:15 a.m., it was hard to get food ready fast enough.

Chris Vanderweide was in charge of getting the hot food to volunteers, who wrap the food for the hungry crowd.

"I'm trying to get all the food from over here to the serving lines as fast as possible, so it can get turned out, so we don't have such a big crowd," Vanderweide said.

His job means lots of running, filling and replenishing food containers and keeping up with a lot of people at once.

"It was something I was brought up with, just always running always staying on my feet. Go. Go. Go. I was brought up that way. I love doing it," Vanderweide said.

In addition to free food, there was plenty of entertainment for breakfast-goers, including live country music, a cow chip contest and a mechanical bull ride.

The breakfast, which serves as the unofficial kickoff for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, was recognized in 2001 as the World's Largest Cooked Breakfast by the Guinness Book of Records and pays tribute to the trail riders of the Old West.

The Cowboy Breakfast began in 1979 with a handful of cooks and grills in the parking lot of Central Park Mall as the sendoff for trail riders starting the annual trek to the Stock Show & Rodeo.