Trail riders continue San Marcos tradition

Special to the Star

Photo by: 

The Greater Randolph Area Trail Riders arrive at The Square in San Marcos. The group made a stop in San Marcos Feb. 3 on its way to San Antonio.

Trail riders and their horses paraded along The Square Monday afternoon as they stopped for an annual lunch and one resident’s “almost famous” peach cobbler en route to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.

This year’s excursion marks the 16th annual Greater Randolph Area Trail Riders Association Inc. trail ride from Kyle to the stock show and rodeo. The itinerary for the event, hosted by the city’s Main Street Program, includes meals and celebrations for the trail riders provided by association members and local residents.  

The blaring sirens of a police escort signaled the arrival of the parade, along with the clopping hooves of about 30 horses near the courthouse lawn.  The leaders of the excursion, including the “princess” and the trail bosses, directed the group of about 20 riders.

Joe Coldewey, who previously served for three years as the president of the GRA-TRAils, has been the trail boss for all seven of the association’s rides since 2013.   While many of the participants wore membership jackets, Coldewey said “anybody who wants to ride” can take part in the experience.

San Marcos has been part of the trail riding tradition since its inception. Samantha Armbruster, San Marcos Main Street Program manager, said she has been fascinated with the festivities after volunteering for the event last year.

“It just looked so cool to me, visually,” Armbruster said. “So I’m really excited to be leading the charge this year.”

One of the event’s most beloved traditions is resident Valerie Agee’s “almost famous” peach cobbler, part of the meal provided to riders by members of the community. Agee mixes her ingredients from scratch every year: pre-portioned packets of powder, vanilla extract and about a cup of whole milk poured into the cobblers with an inexact precision that suggests years
of expertise.

The recipe was passed down from her grandmother, originally from Lake Charles, La., and has been the go-to treat since the second year of the trail ride. Agee said she used cake mix as the batter the first year, but the result could not compare to her own family recipe.

Agee’s husband, John, is typically responsible for keeping the crowd warm each year with a hand-welded table that holds live coals. Conversations surrounded the table of coal and cinder, and Agee demonstrated the art of pouring coffee from an oversized pot suspended above another bed of coals.

The flameless heat has become a staple for the annual early February event.

“You can see why there are so many people clustered around the table,” Agee said. “It’s not because they like to look at the coals.”

The Greater Randolph Area Trail Riders, who are scheduled to arrive in San Antonio Friday, will be at the city’s stock show and rodeo Saturday. The ride draws between 75 to 100 participants each year, said Cindy Sullivan, president of the association.