Everything’s Bigger in Texas…Including Rodeo!
Did you ever have childhood dreams of being a cowboy or cowgirl? You can make those dreams come true in Houston! Last year, over 26 million fans attended the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at NRG Park, making it the largest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the world. So grab your hat, pull on your boots and mosey on down…it’s time to rodeo!
Kick off the western fun on Friday, February 23, the 20-day RODEOHOUSTON events inspire everyone in the city of Houston to become hat-wearing, boot-stomping Texans. Go Texan Day, a city-wide event brings out the cowboy or cowgirl in everyone! TIP: Don’t own a pair of cowboy boots yet? Now’s the time to shop for them, as Houston’s boot inventory is at its peak during rodeo season. With cowboy boots as this year’s women’s fashion trend, you’ll be wearing them long after the rodeo is over!
Keep those boots on and head downtown for another taste of Texas; the Downtown Rodeo Parade is on Saturday, February 24. This parade has eleven different trail rides, countless covered wagons, and more than 3,000 horseback riders that travel over 1,300 miles to participate. These trail riders carry on an age-old Texas tradition and many of the horses in the parade are from rescue shelters. TIP: Arrive early to find a spot along the parade route to get the best view of the floats and trail riders.
Rodeo Fare & Carnival
Next check out the World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest during February 22-24, where more than 250 BBQ teams compete for prizes. While most team tents are invitation-only, purchase of a ticket includes a complimentary sliced barbecue beef sandwich plate, access to live music areas and admission to the carnival with its wild rides and fun games. The carnival is open throughout the entire rodeo season. TIP: Ride the La Grande XL Ferris wheel, complete with air-conditioned cabins and leather seats, and be sure to snap a selfie while you’re 130 feet above the crowd below!
Houston’s rodeo food is known for more than just great barbeque. Enjoy the usual carnival foods like turkey legs, corn dogs, funnel cakes and cotton candy, or try some of the many unique deep-fried delights, proof that just about anything can be deep-fried! The list of deep-fried treats goes on and on with everything from Oreos, Twinkies, and Moon Pies to ice cream-stuffed cupcakes, cookie dough, and Snickers to tempt your sweet tooth. You can also enjoy savory deep-fried treats including pickles, nachos, boudin, and zucchini. TIP: Don’t leave without trying the deep-fried Nutella. You’ll wonder how they do it, but it tastes so good you won’t care!
Don’t miss the Livestock Show, where prize cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits and other livestock strut their stuff. Also, enjoy the Llama and Alpaca Shows and watch the herding dogs compete in the Sheep Dog Trials. TIP: Still don’t own a pair of cowboy boots? There are more than 300 vendors featuring boots, buckles and rodeo souvenirs.
Award Winning Art Contest
The School Art Contest is a must-see, on display in the Livestock Show’s entry hall. Each year, talented area high school art students show their award-winning art in this public exhibit. You’ll be amazed at the quality of art created by local youth. In 2016, the art collection included in the junior auctions raised a record $12,350,133, setting world records. TIP: Be sure to step outside and snap a selfie with the Astrodome. You’ll want a photo of the Eighth Wonder of the World to show to friends back home.
It’s time to Rodeo!
After all of the shopping and eating, make your way over to the adjacent NRG Stadium and be sure you’re in your seat before the Grand Entry. Witness the indoor fireworks show and flag-waving trick rider. Join the crowd by cheering on your favorite in the Chuck Wagon Races, as they race around the dirt floor of the arena. Stay in your seat for the always-entertaining Calf Scramble, where 30 Texas 4-H and FFA students make a wild chase to catch one of 15 calves running loose on arena floor. It’s sometimes hard to tell who’s doing the catching, the kids or the calves! TIP: Don’t miss the fan-favorite Mutton Bustin’, where 5 and 6-year-old boys and girls wearing protective gear try their hand at riding sheep like rodeo cowboys ride bulls.
Rodeo excitement continues on the arena floor, with calf-roping, bronc-busting and bull-riding professional cowboys and cowgirls competing for top prizes, setting the stage for the night’s musical entertainment to follow. With 20 days of world-famous recording artists performing, you’re sure to find a favorite to get your boots toe-tapping!
Yee haw, we’ll see ya’ll there!
To access more information about local restaurants, unique attractions, and special offers in Houston, visit our Destination Guide, or explore Hilton properties in Houston below.