Richmond old-timers remember
cows in the cafe for Black and White Days
By Brooke Barker
April 30, 2006 | RICHMOND -- It's springtime
in town, and besides baby animals peeking their
faces from behind mothers and fences, there's
one other thing about to show its face on the
city streets: Black and White Days.
Every year during the third week in May, life
as usual stops. Kids are known to be skipping
class, farmers show their pride stock and people
from all over the country come to this international
"We have tried to keep the show with a small
town atmosphere with professional show quality.
In that, we have succeeded famously. We have had
sunshine, rain and even snow, but people keep
coming. We try to welcome everyone," resident
Lloyd Walker said.
Y'ALL: Richmond prepares for Black
and White Days. / Photo by Brooke Barker
He's lived in Richmond for around 40 years, and his
family has always been involved with showing horses
at the event. Walker was a "temporary" Horse Show chairman
for 15 years and now says he's just a "consultant".
People from as far as Wisconsin, Oregon and Canada
come to the festival hoping to buy or sell high quality
cows and participate in the events. "Horse pulling has
become a hobby, and so people from all over the western
United States come to Black and White Days to participate
in that event," resident Doyle Webb said.
Black and White Days began in 1913 as a local festival
to celebrate and show off the city's cows. Local farmers
and agriculturalists came to the yearly event to sell
their Holsteins for a few bucks.
Some of Richmond's residents can still remember the
way things used to be with more locals and carnival
rides. A few of them were at L.D.'s Café for an early
morning drink before starting their day and were willing
to share some of their memories and feelings about the
Lee Thompson is sitting by himself at the worn orange
counter. He must be an early bird around here, because
all of the other regulars are just beginning to wander
in, and he's savoring his last bite of toast. Thompson
is 72 years old and has lived in Richmond for around
47 of those years.
When asking him about Black and White Days, his initial
response is to explain the history and list several
of the most popular events. You'd think he and all the
other locals sitting at the counter planned the annual
event, based on how much they remember about it.
"My favorite part was the carnival rides, when they
used to have them," Thompson says. A few of the other
guys start trying to decide when it was that the city
stopped bringing in the rides and decide it must have
been around 20 years ago.
L.D. Bowcutt, a former councilman, says the city stopped
bringing in the rides when they realized they were losing
money, because the weather is too unpredictable in May.
Not enough people were taking advantage of the rides,
and the company providing the rides began refusing to
come to the celebration.
"What do you need wooden horses for, when we have
real ones out here?" one of the locals sitting across
from Thompson jokes.
"It was a big event for us. We weren't able to go
to Lagoon for the day," Doyle Webb recalls about his
pre-WWII days in Richmond. Webb is 75 and spent his
entire life with the exception of three years living
in Richmond. His father was the secretary and treasurer
for Black and White Days for many years. Webb believes
his father's position made him lucky, since he was able
to find out who the winners were before the announcement.
"I remember my dad used to mow the lawn in front of
our house on State Street before the festival, and then
all these cars used to come and line the streets and
park on our lawn. People would actually put 'No Parking'
signs in front of their houses, even though it was really
city property," said Webb.
In previous celebrations there have been some pretty
memorable experiences that still create a lot of laughs
and arguments as to the actual truth among these oldtimers.
"There's usually something going on besides the show,"
one of the locals that have started to gather around
the counter says. They all laugh thinking about their
No one sitting at the counter in L.D.'s has forgotten
the time when a Holstein wandered in the front door
of the café. L.D. Bowcutt, the owner of the café and
longtime resident of Richmond, even acts out the path
the cow took. Bowcutt claims that one of the employees
climbed onto the cow and guided her out the front door
before the cow could get into the kitchen.
"Later that day during the cattle show, that cow sold
for $50,000, and here it had been messing around inside
the café," Bowcutt says with a smile. "We've even had
guys ride in the back door on their horses and order
a drink. They just sit here and drink it right in the
restaurant. It's a real good time."
Two years ago, a draft horse got a stomach ache and
lay down. A lady hit the horse to get him up and it
worked. He responded by getting up and hitting the woman
in the head.
"The pulling shoes weigh close to five pounds a piece,
plus the size of the horse was like being hit with a
freight train. When hit, the woman did a complete backward
somersault and landed in the sawdust," Walker recalls.
Ambulances and first aid people responded during the
event, but a day later the woman went home and today
she is fine.
"Not all shows are this traumatic, but when you mix
people, horses, mules, draft horses and dogs, things
will happen," said Walker.
"It seems that one year just starts to run into the
other," Thompson said. "I usually just think 'this is
a good time for me to be out of town' when Black and
White Days rolls around."
This year's event May 16-20 is sure to have the regular
horse pull contest, horse and cattle shows, booths,
a melodrama, food, contests and the entertainment that
has become a tradition for Black and White Days. There
will also be the parade, but in order to find out if
the historians really ride in an outhouse, you'll just
have to come and find out. It is sure to be an udder
PASTORAL: Horses talk
horse-talk over the fence in Richmond. / Photo by