Named by the Texas Legislature as the Peach Capital of Texas, Weatherford welcomes 35,000 visitors each July to Parker County Peach Festival, one of the city’s larger events. But Weatherford is also known as the Cutting Horse capital of the world, and its rich Western heritage is filled with colorful characters.
Legendary cattle drovers Oliver Loving and Bose Ikard, who, with Charles Goodnight inspired Larry McMurtry’s novel “Lonesome Dove,” are buried in Weatherford’s Greenwood Cemetery. Renowned modern-day Weatherford natives include Broadway star Mary Martin, immortalized for her role as Peter Pan; her actor son Larry Hagman, the infamous J. R. Ewing on the “Dallas” television series; and former U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright.
English portrait artist Douglas Chandor, known for his paintings of historical figures like Queen Elizabeth, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill, met and married Weatherford native Ina Kuteman Hill. The couple settled in Weatherford in 1936 and built their home and surrounding “garden rooms.” The restored Chandor Gardens is a treasured Weatherford public landmark.
Settlers began arriving in the area in 1845. Parker County was named after Isaac Parker, a Texas Legislator representing Ellis and Tarrant Counties in 1855-56 who introduced the bill to establish Parker County. When Parker County was formed in 1856, the territory was in the state Senate district of Jefferson Weatherford, and the county seat was named Weatherford in his honor.
The Texas and Pacific Railroad arrived in 1880. Two other lines came in the next 11 years, establishing the county seat as a shipping point for Parker County farmers and ranchers. The Santa Fe depot today houses the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce.
Located in the center of Parker County, Weatherford is the largest city in the county. The historic Parker County Courthouse sits at the geographic center of Weatherford, surrounded by other historic buildings that now house locally-owned shops and restaurants. Southwest of the courthouse, tree-lined streets with charming Victorian-style homes built in the late 1800s make up the historic district. East of Main Street, well-established neighborhoods surround Medical City Weatherford hospital and Weatherford College.
New development is springing up along U.S. Hwy 180 and the I-20 corridor, greatly increasing traffic through the center of town. A bypass road project is being planned to divert east-west traffic on Hwy 180 around the courthouse to make the downtown Heritage Square area less congested and more pedestrian-friendly.
Blake Rexroat, Weatherford director of communications and marketing, says the city has seen steady growth over the last 10 years. “When you look at Dallas/Fort Worth, we’re unsettled territory if you will; we have available land out here, so lots of people are moving this direction, which brings businesses, too,” he says. “Part of the challenge we have is how to preserve that historical aspect, because we are a historical community.”
Popular seasonal events at the city’s Heritage Park draw large crowds, including fall concerts at the park’s amphitheater, and food trucks in the spring, summer and fall. For December’s “Holiday in the Park,” the city lights up the whole park and brings in snow for carriage rides and children’s activities. The biggest annual event is “Spark in the Park” on July 4, with a live big-act concert and Parker County’s largest fireworks display. The free event attracts close to 20,000 people, Rexroat says.
The annual Parker County Sheriff’s Posse Frontier Days Rodeo is one of the largest in Texas and is a tribute to the county’s deep cowboy roots. A large farmer’s market operates year-round a few blocks east of the town square.
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