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Rounding It Up

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo brings a stellar 2012 lineup.

Rodeos are fun, family-oriented events, and the biggest and best one is right here in Houston. So head on over to see incredible feats of athleticism from both the two-legged and four-legged among us, enjoy a few carnival rides and stick around for an appearance by your favorite band. If that doesn't grab your attention, why not stop by for the endless fried food and the chance to see a blooper reel in the making? This is Rodeo Houston.

RECURRING THROUGH THE RODEO

(February 28-March 18)

100.3 KILT Carnival

Fried food, drinks and sugar spun any way you can think of it — the mark of a truly great carnival. This one certainly has that and more. Stroll the grounds for a chance to eat pizza on a stick, or any number of other things "on a stick," or to ride the Ferris Wheel, the Mega Drop or the aptly named Dizzy Dragon. It gets bigger and better every year, and there's a special little corner carved out for the smallest children. And don't forget to try your hand at one of the many games — there are ATMs posted every few feet, so you can have a go again and again. Just don't try it on Armed Forces Appreciation Day. Those brave men and women have very honed skills, and there may not be many prizes left once they come through. The carnival is open from the afternoon to midnight on weekdays, and all day on weekends.

Capital One Bank AGVENTURE

If you come to the rodeo hoping to learn a little more about the animals that make it work, this is the right place for you. Located in the Reliant Center, this large-scale educational gathering of livestock will take you through the finer points of farming. See bees making honey, cows and goats giving birth, chicks hatching from eggs, all in front of your eyes. For the non-animal side of agriculture, visit the weaving demonstration or see the cotton gin in action. The exhibits are free and intended for adults as well as children, and since it takes up a huge part of the Center, it's really hard to miss.

Champion Wine Garden

This garden has been a part of the rodeo for some time and can be found on Carruth Plaza from afternoon or early evening to 11 p.m. It has lovely foliage and is intended to help weary visitors take a break for a minute or two, to sit down with a glass of award-winning wine and enjoy themselves. Wine from this year's competition will be on sale by the glass and by the bottle, as well as being available for tasting.

The Hideout

The Hideout is a safe haven for country and western lovers above the age of 21. Open from 6 p.m. onward, this convenient tent will be chock-full of dancers and singers with a little bit of the Texas soul in them.

Kids Country

A special part of the rodeo set aside just for the little ones, this mini carnival contains kid-friendly events such as the Kids Tractor Pull, Mutton Bustin' and Pig Races. It will also have certain staples, including the obligatory petting zoo, an old-fashioned carousel, pony rides, camel rides, the educational "fun on the farm" and a stage devoted to their entertainment courtesy of Radio Disney.

Kids Pedal Tractor Pull

Found in Kids Country, this event is open to kids from four to 12 years of age and allows them to participate in a pedal-powered tractor pull. It takes place several times a day, weekdays and weekends alike.

Mutton Bustin'

A more recent addition to the Rodeo's bag of tricks, this involves a child between the ages of five and six attempting to ride a sheep while it runs wild. This tamer version of bull riding can be seen in Kids Country, and happens every day on an hourly basis. It can also be found in the stadium as part of the rodeo proper every night.

Pig Races

This fun little event's title is fairly self-explanatory. Piglets will compete against each other to reach the other track and win the ultimate purse — treats. It can be found in Kids Country, and happens Monday through Friday on an hourly basis.

RELIANT ARENA EVENTS

Thursday, February 23

American Quarter Horse Association Cutting

This event starts at 8 a.m. sharp, and is sure to be a favorite for those who love to see the solid versatility of quarter horses put to the test.

February 24-March 1

National Cutting Horse Association Cutting

As the name suggests, the NCHA is all about cutting. Stop by at 8 a.m. to see some serious separation of the bovine variety.

Thursday, March 1

Versatility Ranch Horse World Championship Show

A world championship event that showcases the various talents of the ranch horse; it starts at 4 p.m.

(Listings by date continue below.)
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BANG, BANG
A new rodeo event for the gun-lovers among us.

If the stereotypes are to be believed, there is nothing that appeals more to the Texan heart than the simple life of a cowboy; the horseback riding, lassoing, cow-herding lifestyle exemplified and glorified by the rodeo. Nothing except guns, of course.

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