March is a busy, busy month on the Gulf Coast of Texas. We’ve either just celebrated Mardi Gras or are in the middle of the festivities; March Madness is about to take up weekends from Thursday to Sunday; and the Houston Rodeo is in full swing. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ was organized for charitable, educational and scientific purposes to encourage and promote the breeding, raising and marketing of better livestock and farm products at public fairs and to promote and maintain research and educational functions within the livestock industry. Since 1932, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has committed nearly $375 million toward scholarships, research, endowments, calf scramble participants, junior livestock show exhibitors, School Art participants, and other educational and youth programs.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world’s largest livestock show and richest regular-season rodeo. Starting with a Trail Ride, where more than 3000 trail riders (who have traveled over 1800 miles combined) will make their way through the streets of Houston (the fourth largest city in the United States), the Rodeo lasts for twenty days. Rodeo events include a road race, a parade, a barbeque contest, youth competitions in landscaping, flower arranging, photography, and horticulture, as well as the many livestock competitions, and the main event – the rodeo. An average of 65,000 people will visit the rodeo each day, enjoying a carnival (like the midway at a fair), food courts and stalls (featuring fried everything, and then some!), the livestock show and competition, and acres of vendors selling their wares in booths at the NRG Center. In the evening, the crowds make their way to the NRG Arena for nightly rodeo competition – bucking broncos, calf roping, barrel racing, chuckwagon races, bull riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf scramble, and my personal favorite, mutton bustin’. The purse for this year’s Rodeo Super Series is over $1.69 million!
Each evening, after the rodeo events, there is a concert featuring some of the biggest names in (mostly) country and western music. Some of this year’s headliners are Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, John Legend, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, and Luke Bryan. The stage for the concert is constructed during the mutton bustin’ competition – a giant, revolving stage is assembled in minutes, the lights go out, the fireworks go up, and the music blasts. Since I’ve mentioned mutton bustin’ a couple of times, I should explain it in case you’re not from around here. Mutton busters are five and six year olds who are decked out in helmets and protective gear and placed on top of a sheep. They hang onto the wool on the sides of the sheep and the chute opens and the sheep runs out. The object is to stay on the longest! It is so cute to see those little ones hang on – some of them slide halfway around the sheep but they don’t let go!
Our friends Mark and Mary Jo invited us to join them at the Rodeo on Tuesday, so Mary Jo and I headed over to Houston in the afternoon. This year was the first time I have gotten to the rodeo early enough to go shopping and look at the livestock exhibits – so fun! In addition to what you might expect – lots of western wear, boots, bejeweled belt buckles, spurs, saddles, cowboy hats, and western decor, there were some mighty big ticket items – livestock trailers that looked like upscale RVs for cows and horses, farm equipment, John Deere machinery, milking machines, feeders, incubators, and such. Then there was the candy store – a maze-like booth where you were handed a basket and then got to buy all kinds of candy (candy cigarettes, Turkish taffy, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Bit’O’Honey – you name it, they had it!) and right next to it was the glider swing booth.
By the time Mary Jo and I got to this booth, we had been wandering for over an hour (not counting our trek in from the parking lot!). We’d had a Blue Moon, and we’d walked down the cattle aisles, watched just-hatched chicks stand on wobbly feet, seen a litter of adorable little piglets fight for space at their mama’s teats, watched new calves think about struggling to their feet, admired goats being groomed, taken an educational tour of Texas, and avoided spending any money except on candy by the pound. And then we saw the reclining glider swings. We were ready to sit down and take a load off, and the booth was not crowded, so down we sat. By the time I got up, Rex and Mark had found us and I had ordered a double recliner swing to be delivered the next day! You never know what you will find at the rodeo!
Our swing was delivered yesterday morning, as advertised. I can tell I may not be getting a lot of work done this spring and summer. And fall….
Here are some of my favorite things about the pre-rodeo show festivities:
Kits Used: Almost Spring and Almost Spring Addon Paper Pack by Designer Digitals
Fonts Used: Cowboys and Daniel Black