Well, it’s that time of year again and we are all gearing up for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Have you got your boots ready? I’ve got mine.
Last year, I shared my experiences about what it takes to get a steer ready for a livestock show.
This year I want to discuss a different road to the rodeo. If you don’t get out of the Houston metropolitan area much, you may not realize that this week thousands of trail riders from 13 different groups are making their way to our fair city. Ultimately, they all camp out together in Memorial Park on Friday (February 27th). They then join bands and floats to parade through downtown Houston on Saturday (February 28th) to officially kick off the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo season.
I live in Montgomery County and always love seeing the Sam Houston Trail Ride team moving through my area. They began their ride in 1955 and follow the trail that General Sam Houston took on his trip to Houston in the mid-1800s. This team makes a stop in historic downtown Tomball to celebrate with the locals and get some free grub.
The other trail rides also have a long history and represent different cultural backgrounds. The Salt Grass Trail Ride was the first. It started in 1952 with four riders from Brenham, Texas. In 1957, the Prairie View Trail Ride became the first African-American group. In 1973, the Los Vaqueros Rio Grande Trail Ride became the first Hispanic group. (I should also note that they have the longest trail to ride: 386 miles from Reynosa, Mexico.)
The trail rides recreate the history of the Old West. Pioneers used trails during the westward expansion of the United States in covered wagons aka “prairie schooners”. Cowboys created trails to move cattle from the open ranges in Texas to major markets and railroads in Kansas for distribution to other urban centers.
The riders still wear Western gear and ride their horses. If you have never ridden a horse, you may not understand the athleticism that is required because it is indeed hard work! Today, however, more folks tend to camp out in recreational vehicles as opposed to tents so as to have more of the modern comforts of home.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officially starts on March 3rd and runs through March 22nd. As you already know, there will be plenty of music. These folks will start us off: Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, Miranda Lambert, and John Legend. FYI, I saw Hunter Hayes many years ago at the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival when he was a wee lad playing Cajun music with his accordion on stage. All I can say is that…that kid rocked…and he still does!
Well, of course, there is also the food. My students know this is an important part of intercultural communication. This is where the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest aka “The Cookoff” takes place. This year it runs from February 26th to the 28th. Last year an estimated 249,332 people attended the three day event. This year there will be 264 teams praying for a win.
If you can’t get tickets to the cookoff tents, there are plenty of other food options. The 2014 Gold Buckle Foodie Awards included: Baked Potato with Chopped Beef, Sausage and Ribs from Triple J’s Smokehouse, Big Stone Breakfast Sandwich from Stubby’s Cinnamon Rolls, Cinnamon Roll Pancakes from Stubby’s Cinnamon Rolls, Cookie Dough Parfait from Aunt Edmoe’s, Fried Pie from Kettle Korn of Texas, Grilled Chicken Kabob from Saltgrass Steak House, Lemon Cream Frosty Bite from Custom Confections, and Pulled Pork Stuffed Baked Potato from Saltgrass Steak House.
I hope you will spend some cool cultural time at the world’s largest rodeo event and enjoy the enduring history of Texas. As everyone around here says…“All trails lead to…the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo!”