Just off a straight stretch of the Trinity River, the sounds of laughter and victorious whooping grow louder. A curious look toward the hubbub yields a vision rarely seen in the city—helmet-clad athletes of all ages splash along the water's surface, launching their bodies in what looks like the offspring of water-skiing and snowboarding onto ramps, jumps, and railings that protrude from the water's surface like geometric islands. It's all part of a regular afternoon at Cowtown Wakepark, the watery brainchild of 20-year wakeboarding enthusiast Tommy Fambrough. During the course of three years, Tommy slowly formed the labyrinth of water-bound obstacles that visitors enjoy today, earning acclaim from the Trinity River Vision Authority's revitalization project for his riverside paradise's part in keeping the area an accessible and productive part of the community.
Each wakeboarding run begins when visitors strapped into their Liquid Force boards grab a cable and are pulled from the shore-side wooden platform across the water, cutting through the river's calm surface and pausing only to heckle passing fish. Spectators stick to the shore under covered tents and at picnic tables, or recline on the water's surface inside tented rafts. Onsite instructors can show first-timers the ropes, and also lead summer day camps to instill children aged 7–16 with wakeboarding, kneedboarding, and wakeskating basics.
As legend has it, an 1875 article in the Dallas Herald claimed that a live panther was spotted walking the streets of Fort Worth. The city soon became known as the "The Panther City," so when Fort Worth's first minor-league baseball team was founded, in 1888, calling it the "Panthers"—rather than, say, the "Fighting Dandelions"—just made sense. Over the years, journalists shortened the club's nickname to the "Cats," and the team dominated the Texas League through the first part of the 20th Century, at one point winning six consecutive league titles in the 1920s.
After bouncing between affiliations with several MLB teams, the Cats disbanded in 1964. However, the Cats returned in 2002, almost immediately reliving the success of the previous century and capturing three straight titles from 2005–07. Despite never adopting the Panther name, the modern-day Cats have never lost sight of their history, as evidenced by mascot "Dodger" and LaGrave Field's classic design.
You've got your pick of four great views at Coyote Drive-In. There are three screens, each of which show a double feature every night—but there's also a panoramic look at downtown Fort Worth, nestled along the Trinity River. The drive-in's peaceful location illustrates the mission of its founders, who envisioned their theater as a retro-style escape from the modern world.
Just because it's old-fashioned, however, doesn't mean Coyote Drive-In lacks conveniences. A covered canteen area provides guests with concessions from to classic popcorn to thin-crust pizza and Louisiana meat pies. There's even a bar stocked with big-screen televisions, craft beers, and bottles of red, white, and sparkling wine.
The crowd cheers as a rider clad in Western gear thunders his horse over the dirt floor of the stadium, gracefully casting a lasso to loop in a calf. Minutes later, a trick rider smiles brilliantly before she elicits gasps by dangling vertically in her saddle. This showmanship has been going on for more than 100 years on the turf of the Cowstown Coliseum](http://gr.pn/PrZFzb), where Stockyards Championship Rodeo holds its Western-style rodeo events.
Though trick riding, roping, and bull riding are the stars of the Fodor's-recommended show, cowboy culture can be found throughout the stadium. Live country-western music provides the soundtrack, and occasional visits from singing cowboys or beat-boxing bulls add an air of spectacle to the events. Even the panel of judges gets into the spirit by wearing cowboy hats.
Aaron Watson is a Lone Star State country-music crooner who has released eight albums on his own independent label. After a college injury ended his budding baseball career, Watson traded in pop flies for the pop charts and began learning to play guitar, quickly composing his own country creations. His newest groove compilation, Deep in the Heart of Texas, is a live album featuring rip-roaring tracks such as "Love Makin' Song," "Heyday Tonight," and "Except for Jessie." Watson's down-home hits may provoke reckless boot stomping, spur spinning, hootin', and, in select cases, even hollerin'. Doctors advise audience members not to operate heavy machinery while under the influence of Watson's music.