Two hundred head of cattle guided by 40 cowboys and herd dogs will fill the streets of downtown San Diego Saturday morning - a scene not seen in a century or more.
A cross promotion for this year's San Diego County Fair, which opens at 4 p.m. Friday, and the 150th Anniversary of the historic Gaslamp District, the cattle drive will begin at 7:30 a.m. and conclude 90 minutes later.
It will feature special cattle from the Inland Empire that have participated in similar drives around the state. Doug Lofstrom, the coordinator of the event, said he's organized 11 other cattle drives in urban areas in the past including Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa.
"The team that is helping us is pretty much the same riders who have been helping me for a long time," Lofstrom said. "The cattle we select are what I would call 'event' cattle. They've been in rodeos, they've been in ropings. They're a little older steer."
The drive will begin at a staging area at North Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway. Police will block off streets as the herd moves past the San Diego Convention Center and 5th Avenue, then loops around and heads back to 5th Avenue, before turning right into the Gaslamp District. The cows and their handlers will continue to Market Street and head back to Harbor Drive and the staging area. It should all be over by 9 a.m., organizers say.
There will be plenty of places along the route for the public to gather and view the spectacle, including the grass areas of Ruocco Park and in front of Kansas City Barbeque, where the cows will pass at the beginning and end of their journey along Harbor Drive.
The restaurant will offer a Cattle Drive breakfast featuring a $12.50 Cowboy Casual Breakfast Buffet that will include smoked beef brisket hash, scrambled eggs, biscuits and red eye gravy, coffee or tea. To reserve a time, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservations are available in 15 minute increments starting at 6:45 a.m. The barbecue joint is at 600 West Harbor Drive (across the street from the Manchester Grand Hyatt).
Other good cattle viewing areas include the pedestrian bridge that crosses over Harbor at Market Street. Viewing on 5th Avenue is only encouraged from inside open restaurants and establishments, not from the sidewalks.
Organizers say the cattle will move through each area very quickly, only tying up the roadway for a few minutes at a time.