The Alamo Kountry Kickers History
How we came to be!
The club was started in January 1969, under the name Of "Randy's Rodeo Regulars", by six people. They were Jan Burney, Pat Halpin, Sara Lynn Mathews, G. L. "Crash" Stewart, Betty Watson (Smith) & Ron Wolfe. We met once a month at Randy Sherwood's "Randy's Rodeo". Betty Watson was our first President for the first several months and then stepped down because she did not go along with things that Randy Sherwood wanted the club to do. We put on our first trail ride in October 1969. We camped on Loop 1604 and San Pedro, as that was "way out in the country" at the time. We rode to Bandera Rd. and Loop 410 also still "out in the country" and camped next to the old Bandera Rd. Drive-In Theater, on land owned by Edger Von Scheele Sr. Mr. Von Scheele, and later his son, let us use this site from 1962 for other rides up to 1978. We had changed our route and no longer needed the campsite, which had served us well for many years. I will always remember their graciousness and kindness. Never once did they ask for any money or recognition. On this ride it rained cats and dogs while we were on the trail. None of us had raincoats and we all got soaked. That Sunday night we tried to dry out and had a big dance at Randy's. As you can see not much has changed in the weather department and this is why I always preach "to bring your raincoats"!! Bill Robertson had about twenty heads of horses that he had loaned out to different people. At the end of the ride when it was time to go home, Bill was left with all the horses to haul home by himself. Bill always bought at least ten to fifteen people with him for many of those early trailrides, which helped us have a good turnout. Bill helped us for many years and only in the last couple of years has not made a ride.
We put on a club dance once a month at Randy's, hiring bands such as Johnny Bush, George Chambers, Lee Harmon, Darrel McCall, and others. We charged a flat fee to get in and beer was free all night. We made some money doing this. In the spring of 1970, around April or May, things had again changed at Randy's. We held a meeting at Bill Sczech's home, away from Randy's for the first time ever, and as President I suggested that we consider leaving Randy's Rodeo. After a month or so of discussion we voted to leave Randy's Rodeo. Needless to say this was a big step to take and not everyone was in favor of the move. Most ever one stayed in the new club in which we voted to give the name of "Alamo Kountry Kickers". We felt this would tell everyone where we were from and that we were western oriented. We did all this without a "Name the Dome" study or city wide contest. Our logo was designed by Kathy Friesenhahn's nephew and was selected over several other designs. Within the first two years of forming the AKK a few of the people, who were against us leaving or were at least neutral, started two different "Randy's Rodeo Regulars" ("Triple R" or "RRR" as we called it). They all tried hard to make the new RRR"'s work, but failed each time. Without Randy Sherwood and Randy's Rodeo this club may not have ever happened, but it was just time to leave or not survive. Some of us had been in the "Bandera Regulars" and in the "Junction Regulars" and had some experience in running this type club and organizing trail rides and dances. Harlene Borgfield, Jack Estess, Kathy Friesenhahn, Pat and Gary Knutson, Gerry Manka Halpin, as well as Rita and Barney Urtiaga were all in the RRR and were very active from the start, later serving in many different offices. Pat Knutson is the only person at this time to have served in all four elected offices.
We continued putting on club dances at various places such as Bill Hall's "Golden Stallion" and at Lee Harmon's "The Junction". Some us helped put on a ride in April 1971 and 1972 for Johnny Bush. He decided not to have one in 1973, so I asked if we as a club could continue having it under the club name as John did not have the time to be involved with it. So started our spring ride. We had our first summer ride July 20-21, 1974. We started at San Geronimo, Texas and camped at Latto & Margaret Martinez's "Pete's Place"-named after his Dad. We rode to the ranch that my Grandparents owned when I was a child and had spent many years on. We went swimming, in the pool, there on the ranch and had our dance at John T. Floores Country Store that night. We then rode into San Antonio the next day. Nolan Ferguson nicknamed this ride the "Champagne Ride". The nickname stuck for many years. Later that summer of 1974 Nolan got me into big trouble.
We were talking one Sunday on the telephone, as we did many times, and we were both thinking about how it would be nice to have a February ride up in the Hill Country. By Wednesday I had contacted all the Chamber of Commerce and Sheriff's Departments from Kerrville to San Antonio. That afternoon I made the first, which I found out later - of many trips to the Kerrville area to plan the first "Kerr Country Trail Ride" for the 1975 San Antonio Livestock Show and Exposition (S.A.L.E.). Because of some rules in existence at the time it was five years before we and the Mesquite Trail Ride were officially recognized by S.A.L.E. It was a long wait that I was personally glad was over. We got lots of good natured ribbing from everyone including some Stockshow Officials and especially Harrell Banks and Jud Ashmore from K-BUC calling us "The Outlaw Trail Ride". Many people helped us become officially recognized five years later for the1980 Stockshow. I had ridden on the South Texas Trail Ride from Corpus Christi since 1967, with Howard Stulting as Trail Boss. Several years later Nolan, Jack Lawrence and Bill Robertson were among others would also join S.T.T.R. I had gone as just a rider for several years, then one year driving the soundtruck because of the death of Bobby Layton's Aunt and then in February 1974 as drag scout the whole way. We had many friends and many good times there and we would miss them. In June of 1978 we staged our first open horse show. We donated ALL the money to the Boysville 4-H. under the direction of Nub Jones the boys would buy their animals, raise and sell them and pay the money back into the fund that we started.
In October 1976, we bought the soundtruck from Pearl Brewery and used it on the Camp Verde to Kerrville trail ride. Walter "Sonny" Karger had been our soundtruck driver almost from the start. He and Signa "Sig" had also been going on the South Texas Trail Ride since 1967. Sonny drove for us until his death on March 10, 1982. Carl Burris then took over and drove until his job conflicted. Carl was responsible for getting permission to go cross-country on the northern edge of Camp Bullis. This single move made it possible to eliminate riding on Loop 1604. We then were lucky enough to have Ray Krewet take over in 1984. Ray worked for Lone Star for many years after retiring as a Major in the Air Force. He was a pilot in WWII. While speaking of Lone Star and Pearl, everyone should be aware that both breweries were very instrumental with trail rides years ago and still try to help today.
Many people worked for others and us. Some the familiar names back then and still today are: Frank Andrews, Chuck Davenport, Mr. H.J. Eickenroht, Aubrey Kline, Bobby Layton, Lloyd Mann, Bob Marsh, Jack Pornroy, Chuck Rembling, "Doc" Tuggle, and George Wilke from Pearl. From Lone Star were Dan Davenport, Glenn Dom, Ham Harrison, Dean King, Benny Reando, Jerry Retzloff, Bill Roth and Sam Sawyer. There have been many people that have spent much time and energy helping the club and I wish I could mention everyone here. Some other such people that have gone the extra mile not previously mentioned are: Mary and Jr. Brunner, Curly and Tinker Dunn, Dian Elrod, Barbara Fling, Andy and Rae Fritz, Larry Heineman, Lee Jobe, lngrid Miller, Rowine Miller, Linda Moore Passons, Belinda and Richard Schwarz, Guy "Scotty" Scott, Fran and Rusty Sells, Betsy Tobin, Rita Urtiaga, Sam Villerreal, Joe Whitehead and of course, Jack Lawrence. Jack is always quick to haul his wagon and team from Fredricksburg to any trail ride so that people that don't have horses can ride along. I apologize in advance if I left any names out.
This club has had a major effect on many lives over the last twenty-three years including my own. I just hope the past has been as good to you as it has to me, and the future gets better as we still have tracks to make together. As previously stated the February trail ride better known as the Kerr Country Trail Ride was in the planning stages during the summer of 1974. One Sunday Nolan Ferguson and I decided that it would be worth considering. That week I contacted the Chamber of Commerce in Kerrville, Comfort, and Boerne. I informed them of our plans and asked for feed back from them. In the months to follow prior to February 1975 there were private meetings with Chamber of Commerce officials, various business people from all walks of life, and many different county sheriffs, city police department heads, Department of Public Safety officers, etc. I made many trips to the Kerrville area and met many new and interesting friends with whom many I still cross paths. Some of these people are Mr. & Mrs. John Bridges (Cascade Caverns) Sheriff Lee D' Spain (Boerne) Andy & Rea Fritz (Ingram) Junior & Ann Fritz (Kerrville area Mini Marts) Sonny & Buddy Henderson-"The Store"(Hunt) Herman Lopez (Comfort) Ace Reid (Cowboy artist) Charles Schriner III (YO Ranch-Mountain Home) Werner Wehmeyer (Ingram). During this period Cecil Calhoun went with me many times and helped with many aspects of the ride in the planning stages and also exigency the actual event. In one such meeting with Don McNew of the Kerrville National Bank, Don informed me that no one would be allowed to drink any alcoholic beverages before 5 p.m. I told him that while I agreed with his reasoning and that I did not need a drink before 5 p.m., it would be impossible to enforce his views on people that were there on their own time and expense and that he was expecting more than state laws did. I did impress on him that we would not tolerate anyone being intoxicated. Don was satisfied during the ride later on that this was the case. The name we use today came from the name used by the Kerrville Chamber of Commerce, which is called the Kerr Country Chamber of Commerce. Ed Phelps was in charge at that time and gave us permission to use this name.
The original route included Hunt, Texas and Criders Rodeo Arena. We then traveled through Ingram, Kerrville, Comfort, Boerne, to Nolan; Gay Ferguson's Blue Bonnet Ranch on Huebner Rd. and then around to the Austin Hwy and finally to Aniol Rd. next to the old Central Freight Lines. We were not permitted on to the Coliseum grounds due to not being an official trail ride. The third year I decided to drop Hunt, Texas and picked up Fredicksburg, Texas. The next year we could not get the Pioneer Pavilion in Lady Bird Johnson City Park on Saturday night so we reversed the route and started in Fredricksburg. After that year I started reserving the pavilion two years in advance. I contacted Don Pardee, Trail Boss, of the Hill Country Trail Ride and told him of our plans. I mentioned that he might let us join their group for one big dance at the Kendall County Fair Grounds. He rejected this proposal so we went to Cascade Caverns instead. John Bridges and his wife owned the caverns and it was always an interesting time negotiating with Mr. Bridges as he always had a new twist to the answer too. Through the eighteen years that we have ridden the following has been a major part of the past. We camped at Cascade Caverns for the first ten years, Kerrville has always been part of the route, although we have used various campsites including Louise Hays Park, the Agricultural Building on Hwy 27, several sites on Sidney Baker with permission from some very nice folks that include Andy Rich, Andy Fritz, Andy and others. We have always camped under the twin bridges of IH-10 at Comfort, Texas and had a meal & dance at Bruno's Curve. Jud "Hug Somebody" Ashmore from KBUC joined us here the first year and at Cascade Caverns many other times. The first three years there was no big room, as that was the outside patio. In the first three or four years, when it was cold, Bruno's was very small! In the twenty some odd years we dealt with several different managers & owners such as Harold & Dorothy Raute.
It was cold and rainy for the first four days of that first ride and many people stuck it out the whole way. Everyone had to check their leather carefully as it was subject to coming apart under those conditions. It rained so much that the Guadalupe was above flood stage and we had to cross over on the old Girder Bridge. There was a local named "One-Eyed Jack" that was under the influence and was horseback when we entered Comfort. He was all over the road and was in danger to himself and traffic. Later at about 10 pm was notified of a loose horse on the highway. I went and found that it was the horse belonging to "One-Eyed Jack". I found out that he told his friends that he was going to forge the river to "show that bunch how to cross rivers". His body was found down stream four days later.
We were not recognized by the San Antonio Livestock Show; Exposition for the first five years. This was in part, due to problems they had with the ride from Kingsville that had cased problems by fighting, littering, etc. We were nicknamed "The Outlaw Trail Ride" due to this dubious honor. I was told we would not be permitted to ride into San Antonio and would not be issued a permit to ride into town. I was able to secure a parade permit from the San Antonio Police Department. I was also told we would not be able to enter into the Stockshow Parade. I called Jack Sellers and explained everything to him and he let us be in the parade. Since the others did not want us riding in the rear of the parade with the other "sanctioned" trail rides there was only one way to go-to the front!! We were camped a block away from the other trail rides and needed to be in our parade slot earlier as well as further up in the line up. The police could not understand why we needed to leave earlier etc. They stopped us twice and finally we agreed to wait for the others to come along and we fell in behind South Texas Trail Ride and then Clifford Morris Trail Boss of the Six Flags Trail Ride had a fit because we were in front of him for six short blocks. When we got to Austin St. we then pulled around the first two trail rides and headed down Austin St. to our spot in the line up. As we did this there was a band in perfect formation waiting to enter into the parade. The band director said we could not go through as they were in formation. I explained that we had a soundtruck, ten wagons, and approximately one hundred horses and needed to get through. He still refused to move the band.
By this time Sonny Karger in the soundtruck had caught up with me and I motioned for him to keep going as I spurred my horse forward to and then someone blew a whistle and it was like the Red Sea dividing and everyone moved out of the way. We then entered the parade and at the completion found ourselves with no escort back to camp. This was really no problem as I had been in the parade many years and knew the best route to take back from the Santa Rosa IH-10 area. When we got to Austin St. the sanctioned trail rides were on the final line up position waiting to go into the parade yet! The next year they had us ride in the rear with them. During the third year we again experienced heavy rain. Our campsite near the Coliseum was under water and not fit for ducks let alone horses and big rigs. I got permission from some one at the Stockshow to camp with the others. When we rode in the grounds I think you could hear a pin hit the mud-but no one stopped us or ordered us out. Harold Banks later asked that we camp by KBUC the next year and then we would be recognized, which we did and we were! We have had our share of the bad weather over the years. It would be too much to describe all the weather that we have put up with from ice and snow to a winter heat wave.
One of the years that stand out was the year that all but two rides were trapped in camp due to ice. We rode late that morning and days later several radio stations stated they did not know we had ridden. My reply was "we were too busy riding to be around to make a phone to call". We had many people help us to become sanctioned and as the old saying goes "Success has many parents and failure is an orphan". But some of the people that did help were Thurmond Barrett, Kathy Bender, Tom Bell, Katy Dubose Hummel, Aubrey Kline, George Hays, Jack Pitluk, Nat Prassel, Mary Nan West, and others who just help tell about us plus all the good people that rode with us and helped make it a well respected ride. The route has gone though many changes over the past eighteen years. Some due to changes in roads, traffic patterns, Camp Bullis letting us cross the Reservation and therefore eliminating Loop 1604, schedule changes with the Stockshow, new campsites coming available or out growing old ones.
All the changes were improvements overall and I do not think we have had to compromise quality for any of this. The best part is that during the weeklong ride and all our weekend trail rides (90 trail rides total to date) we have had almost no accidents. Safety has been and always will be our chief concern.