Record numbers of people from all over the United States came to Kingsville Saturday for the 29th Annual Ranch Hand Breakfast on King Ranch.

Started in 1990, the annual Ranch Hand Breakfast is the only time of the year that the public is allowed to drive inside the gates of the historic King Ranch and enjoy an authentic cowboy breakfast comprised of eggs, refried beans, biscuits and gravy, sausage and tortillas.

Bob Cleek, Area Manager for King Ranch and one of the organizers of the breakfast, said this year’s effort solved some problems encountered last year, but created a few new wrinkles to work out for next year. 

“Last year we had a bit of a traffic problem. This year, our volunteers really kept the traffic moving, but that meant that the serving lines got a little long,” Cleek said. “We’re working on that for next year and are looking at additional lines and servers.”

The estimate for this year’s attendance is 6,000, far surpassing last year’s record attendance of 5,200, Cleek said.

“All in all it was a great event. We had wonderful weather, which really affects how many people come out,” Cleek said. “To all the volunteers and employees who make it happen, I’m just very grateful and we had a wonderful time.”

Molly Martin, from Corpus Christi, said after attending last year’s event, she decided to return and brought several family members with her. 

“I’d heard about it for 10 years and finally decided to come out (last year),” Martin said. “We had so much fun last year. The food was great, it’s beautiful out here and we plan to spend more time here.”

Lynne Stanlick and Diane Miller, from Lake Hopatcong, N.J. said they flew in for the weekend just to attend the breakfast and downtown festival.

“We’ve been getting a (King Ranch Saddle Shop) catalog from this place for like 20 years, reading about the breakfast, reading about Kingsville, and we decided we would come down and take a look,” Stanlick said.

“We came for the breakfast and we’re going to take the tour. Then we’re going to the museum and the saddle shop,” Miller said. “We’ve got a whole itinerary.”

Gloria S. Rios, of Kingsville, said she grew up on King Ranch and has attended every breakfast.

“I love it. You get to meet a lot of different people,” Rios said.

Rosie Estrada, Rios’ sister, lives in Houston and said she looked forward to attending the breakfast as a way to spend time with her family.

“Being with family, that’s what counts. We’re all family-oriented and we try to stay close,” Estrada said. “I look forward to more.”

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