We are a suburb of SF, but we are an old cow town. Today, all of Pleasanton lined Main Street, waiting for the cows to come home. There I am, one among hundreds. Maybe thousands.
They rarely close Main Street, except for our monthly street fair through the summer, but our town is known for its charm and unique events. In addition to our monthly street fairs, every Friday from May through September, we have a downtown concert-in-the-park, where local bands come to play and people come to picnic. Families and friends claim their spots from the earliest morning hours by throwing down blankets and folding chairs. The concert has grown so big, it’s hard to find a spot to put down your picnic basket.
Downtown, we have the Museum on Main, Towne Center Books (our wonderful indie), and Meadowlark Dairy, a drive-through that harkens back to earlier, simpler times and where you can still get soft-serve ice cream and a gallon of milk. The closer you get to Main Street, the more likely you’ll find historic homes and turn of the century buildings. Like most Main Streets in the US, ours is lined with restaurants and shops. We even renovated our downtown firehouse into a theater and cultural arts complex.
Today, though, it all moo-ved off center stage, to make room for the cows. This wasn’t just something residents were curious about. Channel 5 was there, as were three helicopters circling overhead.
Everyone got in the act. Many people had covered their heads with cow hats, the hats so new that tags still dangled from the back . . .
and merchants proudly displayed any products that might appeal to the heifer in your life.
The police were out — as was the fire department (although I seriously hoped we wouldn’t need either) — and so were the protesters.
A word about the protesters: I naively didn’t expect them, but I get why they were there. The cows were making their way to the County Fair, where they would be judged and ultimately auctioned off, probably feeding a large family for the next year. The protesters had a point. And then, they quickly lost it.
They had been sitting on the edge of the street, signs low, quietly, until the animals arrived. The cows were led and corralled by teams of horses and they were all walking calmly down the street. Then, those quiet protesters held up their signs and started yelling through bullhorns. The noise made the animals skittish. Horses seemed to lose a bit of their footing and the cows pushed against each other. Seemed an odd way to either show respect for the animals or to convince anyone in the crowd of their message. Case in point, some of the parade-watchers started screaming at the protesters that the bullhorns were making the horses nervous — which, as you might have guessed, only made the horses more nervous.
I don’t know if the protesters lined all of Main Street, but in our little spot, both sides seemed to have missed their own points.
But back to the cows! Bless their hearts, they walked calmly in between the regal horses. Down Main Street! I couldn’t help but think Dr. Seuss would write a clever tale about this — something about the coursers of horses and crowds of cows, a story punctuated with sillier, giddier rhymes. This event seemed tailor made for Dr. Seuss.
The cattle continued down Main and then, I suspect, to the Fairgrounds. We headed back home. My blog (and my promise to write every day for 30 days) was waiting.
Meanwhile . . .
Pleasanton and the Alameda County Fair have a little something for everyone — especially if you’re in the mooood to add a little Western flair to your day. Just watch out for cow patties.