The annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo kicks off with a parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 22, with college bands, floats, horse-drawn buggies and thousands of trail riders. For a map of the parade route through downtown, visit www.rodeohouston.com.
The ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run, featuring both 10K and 5K races, starts at 9:50 a.m. the same day. The official starting line for both races is at Texas and Smith streets, and the finish line is at Minute Maid Park. To register, call 281-293-2447 or visit www.conocophillipsrodeorun.com.
Starting Tuesday, February 25, talented cowboys and cowgirls will be performing in your standard Rodeo Houston events, including bareback bronc riding, barrel racing and bull riding. Each day's entertainment will be capped off with chuck-wagon races, "heartwarming" calf scrambles and, of course, the big concerts. Highlights include George Straight (Tuesday, February 25), Cross Canadian Ragweed (Saturday, March 1), Bon Jovi (Wednesday, March 12) and Ray Charles and Ronnie Milsap (Friday, March 14). Weekday performances start at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday performances kick off at 4 p.m. For a full concert schedule, visit the rodeo Web site.
Thursday, February 20
Go Tejano Day, which traditionally brings in the rodeo's biggest crowds, is Sunday, March 9, and features a concert by Intocable and Los Tres Amigos. And don't miss Black Heritage Day, happening Friday, March 7; LL Cool J and Ashanti perform.
Livestock will be on display in Reliant Center. Visitors looking for animals with good genes travel to the livestock show from as far away as South America. And many will take semen and embryos back home with them. The open show begins Thursday, February 27.
Of course, the junior livestock show, which gets under way Friday, March 7, is especially popular. Last year Mattress Mac paid over $600,000 for a winning steer (the kid got to keep $150,000, while the rest went to a scholarship fund). Check the rodeo Web site for the hours of both shows.
City kids will love the pig races, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily in the Reliant Park East parking lot. And at Destination: AGventure in Reliant Center, open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, young guns can check out cotton-ginning, branding and milking demonstrations. They can also explore petting zoos and ride ponies and a mechanical bull.
Folks who aren't into the whole animal thing can camp out in the Ford Hideout, a 21-and-up nightclub in the Reliant Park parking lot. Have a beer and check out the live music, including a Dale Watson show on Thursday, February 27. Doors open at 5 p.m. daily. The Rodeo Carnival -- with roller coasters, bumper cars and midway games -- runs from Tuesday, February 25, to Sunday, March 16.
Finally, for God-fearin' rodeogoers, there's Cowboy Church, coordinated by the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys, at 10 a.m. Sundays from March 2 to March 16 in rooms 603-605 and 609-611 at Reliant Center. Remember to dust off those Wranglers real good before the service.