SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Like a scene out of the Wild West, several dozen wranglers on horseback herded more than 50 longhorn cattle down one of Sacramento’s main thoroughfares Monday to kick off a week-long celebration of locally grown food.
The cattle crossed the iconic Tower Bridge over the Sacramento River and marched alongside high-rise buildings down the Capitol Mall toward the state Capitol.
The urban cattle drive initiated Sacramento Farm-to-Fork week, a first-time event that celebrates the region’s abundance of agriculture and restaurants serving those products instead of ingredients from faraway farms.
The week concludes with a festival Saturday on the Capitol Mall and a 600-person dinner Sunday evening, cooked by 20 area chefs and served on the city’s bright-gold drawbridge.
Organizers have been planning the event since Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson proclaimed the city as America’s farm-to-fork capital last fall. They say the region’s long growing season and surrounding farmland help drive the local food movement.
The cattle drive was an effort to recognize the local meat that makes it to the region’s plates in addition to local produce, said Mike Testa, senior vice president for the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau. He said residents can sometimes take that abundance for granted.
“I think so many of us are just spoiled,” Testa said. “We have farmers’ markets seven days a week that we shop at, we go to restaurants that source their proteins and their produce probably that morning at the farm, and we export so much of this product across the country, but we get it oftentimes the day it’s harvested.”
Cotton Rosser of the Flying U Rodeo Co. in Marysville, about 40 miles north of Sacramento, provided cattle and cowboys for Monday’s event. He said the weeklong series of events will help bolster appreciation of the region’s agricultural roots.
“We want to show that it really is a cow town and we’re proud of it,” he said.
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