Recently, after months of planning, my family took a trip to Texas to visit the Hubs’ younger brother and his wife. The kidlets had not seen their Uncle T and Aunt B since August 2010 when we were in Colorado to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Hub’s grandmother. At that time our son was not yet three and our daughter just 10 months old, so traveling was a major ordeal, and required packing lots of stuff and putting up with lots of drama. Now that the kidlets are a bit older, both fully potty trained, eating solid food and sleeping in actual beds, a real vacation sounded more like fun and less like joining the army with all the equipment we’d have to bring along. When the Hub’s brother suggested we come down in early March to attend the 2012 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, we immediately booked our tickets.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world’s largest livestock exhibition and world’s largest indoor rodeo event in the world. It’s a tradition that’s been around for 80 years and even has its own kick-off parade in downtown Houston. This year’s Rodeo went on for 20 days and saw more than 2.2 million people attend. It’s held both inside and outside of Reliant Park, a huge new stadium where the NFL’s Houston Texans play. The country’s top cowboys and cowgirls are invited to the Rodeo Houston, and compete to take home part of a $2 million purse. In addition, it is a charitable organization that gives away millions of dollars each year in agricultural scholarships to students, educational endowments to schools and other programs supporting agricultural research.
We traveled down to Houston on a Thursday and were all excited for our big rodeo day on that Saturday. I had never been to a rodeo before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Growing up in New Jersey, the circus certainly came to town, but rodeos were way too exotic for our neck of the woods, or should I say Pine Barrens? When my son had asked what a rodeo was, I told him it would be a show with lots of horses, cows and bulls. That was all speculation on my end, but my son was satisfied with my answer and excited to see it all.
My biggest concern that day was, “What I was going to wear to the rodeo?” Did I need to dress up? I needed have worried much, we saw all kinds of outfits, some decked out in their finest western-wear while others, like our family contingent, just wore casual jeans, shirts and shoes. Cowboy hats and boots were totally optional, but the kidlets got all gussied up in cowboy hats and bandanas for the occasion!
Aunt B & I did get a chance to sneak off to the rodeo marketplace for a little Rodeo shopping. We each bought a beautiful western-style beaded blouse. Mine is in black & white and hers in green & gold.
There was certainly a lot of new things for my family to experience at the rodeo. Rides, games and special events for kids, shopping and various exhibitions for the adults to explore-there was no way we could do everything, much less get bored!
Our son took in plenty of rides-bumper cars, mini monster trucks and he even braved a roller coaster. Our daughter was a little too small for most rides, though she and I did share a whip-it race car ride and, of course, the carousel. But I think the highlight of her first rodeo was getting her photo with a baby zebra with Aunt B & mommy!
Oh, and there were lots and lot and LOTS of food options. Every type of food you could think of, classic Texas barbecue, southwestern fare, pizza, even fine cuisine. We opted for burritos, quesadillas and a ½ potato loaf – sort of fried potato chips molded into the shape of a loaf of bread.
Late that afternoon it was finally time for the rodeo to start. We made our way into the arena and Uncle T got us great seats to see all the action. After an opening prayer, the National Anthem and an indoor fireworks display, it was showtime.
There were seven official competition events: team roping, tie-down roping, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, barrel racing and my son’s favorite event, steer wrestling. My daughter loved seeing all the pretty horses while my son actually rooted for the bulls in the riding events, cheering loudly when the bull, as my son said, “got himself free of the annoying man on his back.”
There were also two additional “fun” events, the wagon races and mutton bustin’. The mutton bustin’ had me laughing hysterically. Boys and girls between the age of 5 and 6 years old weighing under 60 pounds competed, each strapping on a helmet a helmet and attempting to ride a “mutton” or sheep. It sounds a little dangerous but these sheep were pretty slow! The crowd went wild with each ride. Most of the kids managed to ride for three to five seconds, until the last rider of the day. This boy managed to hang on for an astounding 15 seconds! That sheep ran all over the ring and no matter how much it jumped around, it couldn’t shake off his charge. It was like the animal had Velcro on his body holding his young rider on!
I have a newfound respect for the cowboys and cowgirls who competed at the rodeo. Roping a calf or bull would be hard enough standing in one place with two feet on the ground. Now doing that while riding on a horse takes incredible skill! I don’t have enough guts to get on an old broken down horse, let alone a bucking bronco or bull. The Hubs and I were also impressed how the entire show was pulled off without a lull, a very important factor when you have kidlets with short attention spans. The action literally never stopped and the 2 1/2 hours of the show flew by. The kidlets sat mesmerized throughout the entire rodeo. Never once did I hear my son ask “when will it be over?” or “when can we leave?”
We had such a great time at the Rodeo, as well as our entire visit with Aunt B & Uncle T that we have already started to make plans for a trip back down to the Lone Star state next year to experience the rodeo all over again!
Now it’s your turn to share. What fun events have you taken your kids to?
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