1836 Chuckwagon Races recall yesteryear

by Jo Anne Embleton news@thecherokeean.com
Chuckwagon photos courtesy of The 1836 Chuckwagon photos courtesy of The 1836

NECHES – Now in its ninth year, the 1836 Chuckwagon Races at Diamond B Ranch in Neches is an annual event that thrills visitors wanting a peek of how it was in the old days as they celebrate the history of Texas Independence.

And after an unexpected pandemic experienced across the globe, organizers of the local event are thrilled to be able to bring it back in full force this weekend.

“We’re excited to come back,” said Dena Lee Swanson, who handles marketing for the event, slated April 23-25 in Neches.

In previous years, the races have drawn approximately 2,000 people each time. In 2020, however, “we had about 20 to 30 percent of our normal attendance” at a mini-event held last August, the earliest the state allowed large gatherings to be held due to the pandemic, she said.

“It was deathly hot,” Swanson recalled.

However, 2021 is looking to be another blockbuster year, as evidenced by die-hard fans who braved rain and chilly temps last weekend to camp out and participate in pre-event happenings, such as self-guided trail-riding, clinics and demonstrations at the 11589 FM 321 ranch in Neches.

“As the week moves on, we have more and more people show up,” Swanson said. “We opened the gates last Friday, and even though it was raining, we had groups come in – this is a rain or shine event, and the people who like to come out, the rain doesn’t bother them.”

New this year is a special booth set up with a donation box for the family of slain DPS Trooper Chad Walker, whom Swanson attended high school with in Mexia.

“Every year, we let state troopers and their families in for free, but this year we are also going to have a tent set up with a big banner,” she said.

This year’s schedule is as follows, with organizers following CDC pandemic guidelines for outdoor events:


9 a.m. – Short and long trail rides

10 a.m. – Equine Kool demonstration

11 a.m. – Herd dog demo

1 p.m. – The 1836 Chuckwagon Race Perf I

4 p.m. – Poker Run

6 p.m. – U.S. Mounted Shooting Competition

9 p.m. – Live music by Todd Brewer Band


9 a.m. – Self-guided trail riding

10 a.m. – Kids corral and pony rides

11 a.m. – Kids Wagon Race

1 p.m. – The 1836 Chuckwagon Race Perf II

5 p.m. – Horse, Mule and Wagon Auction

6 p.m. – US Mounted Shooting Competition/Buckboard Shoot

9 p.m. – Live Music by 315 South


10 a.m. – Trail to Christ Cowboy Church service

After Race Awards presentation

6 p.m. – Self-guided trail riding

Rates for general camping are $20 per person per day and $10 per day for youths ages 5-12. Day passes are $15 per person per day, and $5 per day for youths ages 5-12. Children younger than that enter free.

Limited RV hookups are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, at $20 per night.

To learn more, contact Moon Swanson at 903-721-9111 or email Moon@the1836.com.

Visit www.1836chuckwagonrace.com or the Facebook page, “The 1836.”