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Angel, the Texas Longhorn, goes to the Sonoma County Fair

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A familiar set of horns is greeting patrons at the Sonoma County Fair through this weekend.

Angel, a 16-year-old Texas longhorn cow that gained popularity with commuters traveling along southbound Highway 101, and then again after she survived the Tubbs fire in October, will be grazing at Saralee and Richard’s Barn on the county fairgrounds through Sunday. She was invited to take part in the fair by its board of directors.

Angel became a symbol of hope and resilience in the aftermath of last year’s wildfires, surviving against all odds as the ranch she lived on burned in the fast-moving fire.

On the morning of Oct. 9, Houston “Glyn” Evans Sr. was faced with an impossible set of choices. He drove a tractor around his Coffey Lane ranch, frantically trying to rescue the family’s livestock: chickens, goats, cows, and most notably his former wife Valerie Evans’ favorite animal, Angel.

Evans considered ramming the burning fence and letting Angel go free, but felt she might also wander onto the nearby highway or back into the flames. In the end, Evans decided against freeing her, and assumed she wouldn’t survive.

“The last time I saw her, she was looking at me with fire all around her,” Evans said, describing the night he imagined would be Angel’s last.

Evans, his former wife and their son and daughter-in-law, Houston and Victoria Evans, were separated as the Tubbs fire descended over their 2-acre ranch.

Valerie Evans returned to the house to rescue her elderly dog, Scooter, but she never made it out. A billboard on the Evans’ property now honors her legacy with a photo of Angel, imprinted with the words “In Loving Memory of Valerie Evans.”

Glyn Evans recalled the special bond Valerie had with Angel. She would cup her hands together and call out to the longhorn, who would head immediately to her side, something out of the ordinary for a herd animal, he said.

For the moment, Angel lives on a farm in Penngrove, where the family is staying while they wait for permits to rebuild their ranch property. Locals have noted her absence: Angel was the subject of a “Canstruction” at the Coddingtown Mall in February, an annual competition where teams create sculptures from cans of non-perishable food that are subsequently donated to the Redwood Empire Food Bank. She won the People’s Choice award.

“All of us are blindsided by this,” Glyn Evans said. “We had no idea that anybody even cared about her.”

Angel will be hoofing around her pen at the county fair until its final day on Sunday. Evans plans to be there by her side every morning with fresh loaves of French bread, Angel’s favorite food, answering questions about the famous bovine.

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