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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.

This year, the gaping hole in the rodeo lineup has finally been filled, since the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will be hosting two of the American Quarter Horse Association's world championships: the Versatility Ranch Horse Competition and the Cowboy Mounted Shooting events.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting is fairly straightforward. Riders maneuver their horses through a series of obstacles while firing off shots at strategically placed balloons, showcasing both their equestrian skills and their marksmanship.

"It's fast-paced and very easy for the crowd to understand. The results are instant, and people can tell when someone has done something wrong or when they're doing well," says Joel Cowley, Executive Director of Agricultural Exhibits, when asked why the rodeo has added this particular event.

So for anyone who's ever watched a bull-riding competition and wondered about the seemingly arbitrary points system, the allure is easy to understand.

The organizers at the rodeo finalized the decision to add this event to the program after running a demonstration at last year's show and receiving high reviews.

Of course, as much as we gun-toting Houstonians love the idea of watching balloons get shot to smithereens, few are too keen on being caught by a stray bullet.

"There is no danger to the audience," says Crowley. "All the ammunition used is blank, and all the guns are single-action, so they have to pause between every shot. The balloons pop when the heated powder hits them, not the bullets. The only problem the crowd could have is with the noise."

The other new addition, the Versatility Ranch Horse Competition, is less about the rider and more about the horse. Its purpose is to focus on the skills that a truly gifted ranch horse should possess.

The event takes place in five segments: the Ranch Trail, Ranch Riding, Ranch Cutting, Working Ranch Horse and Ranch Conformation competitions. The cumulative score from each event will decide the world champion.

"These are the best quarter horses in the world," Crowley says. "This event is like a pentathlon, and it will show which of the horses is the best all-around athlete."

Both champion showcases will take place on March 2 and 3, in alternating times with one another in the Reliant Arena.
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March 2-3

Versatility Ranch Horse and Cowboy Mounted Shooting World Championship

This combined event, which takes place over the course of two days, is a new addition to the show's lineup and will involve the talents of a quarter horse trained for ranch life in a five-course challenge, as well as a marksmanship test for mounted cowboys as they take on their fiercest enemy yet: stationary balloons. It begins at 9 a.m. on both days.

(Listings by date continue below.)
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WINNING WINES
Try the best entries from 700 wineries in 20 different countries at the rodeo.

The results are in. The champions have been chosen. It is time.

Every year for the past nine years, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has hosted its International Wine competition, and thousands of wines have found their way to the judging table to be taste-tested and classified.

Last year was no different. More than 700 wineries in 20 different countries sent in entries for the competition, and local, national and international judges worked together to pick the winners. Now the winning wines will be auctioned off at the Rodeo Uncorked! Champion Wine Auction.

The event, in addition to providing an opportunity for publicity to a wide variety of wines and vineyards, is also one of the largest fund-raising occasions at the rodeo. Last year, the proceeds topped $1.2 million, and with the participation of so many wineries, the rodeo hopes to do even better this year.

The auction, which will take place on March 3, will not be the last time these wines are seen.

"The wines will be available for retail by the glass and bottle in the Champion Wine Garden all 20 days of the Rodeo," says the rodeo's Director of Agricultural Exhibits, Joel Cowley. "It's a beautiful setting and a nice escape if you want to sit down and rest."

The big winners also had another chance to show off when they were featured in the Roundup and Best Bites Competition on February 19. The Roundup gathered together 16 restaurants to battle it out with the help of some champion pairings until only three remained. At the end of the evening, awards were handed out to Royers Round Top Cafe (first place, Popular Choice), Valentino Vin Bar (first place, Trailblazing Appetizer/Entrée) and Ooh La La Dessert Boutique (Two-Stepping Bread/Cheese Dessert). This showdown was also when the champion wines officially received their awards, so it was a big night of congratulations all around.

As for the awards themselves, in keeping with the true spirit of the rodeo, the restaurants will receive belt buckles commemorating their victories.

"It's what differentiates us from other competitions. We give chaps, saddles and belt buckles to the winners," Cowley says. "If you go to those wineries or restaurants, you'll see those belt buckles hanging on the wall."

Unless you find your way onto the stage for the Roundup, or have some serious loose change lying around, the best place to find the wines is still in the Champion Wine Garden. It is located at the Carruth Plaza in Reliant Park and will be open from the afternoon to 11 p.m.
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March 4-5, 14-16

Quarter Horse Show

Two events, each starting at 8 a.m., will test the skills of quarter horses and their riders. First up are the Roping Events, and then the Speed Events. That will be followed by Halter and Performance shows later on.

March 5-6

Palomino Horse Show

On March 5 at 4 p.m., there'll be a Halter Events show for this dazzlingly colored breed, and on March 6 at 8 a.m., there will be a Performance Events show.

March 7-8

Paint Horse Show

This show for colorfully splotched horses incorporates Halter and Speed events, both at 8 a.m.

March 11-13

Team Penning and Ranch Sorting

If you're willing to watch anything at 7 a.m., this is here as an option. It involves teams working together to separate and sort cows into their respective pens.

March 15-18

Llama and Alpaca Shows

For these four days, visitors can drop in on a number of events for the exhibition of llamas and alpacas, including costume events, halter, speed and showmanship. They occur at various times of the day.

March 16-18

Donkey and Mule Shows

Over the course of three days, there'll be several shows for the performance and showing of donkeys and mules, including showmanship, halter, speed, performance and mule driving (one of the more bizarre sports, if you've ever watched it). The events will be either in the early morning, at 8 or 9 a.m., or midday, such as noon or 2 p.m.

RELIANT CENTER EVENTS

February 29-MARCH 18

Goats, cattle, sheep and student artwork all go to the Reliant Center to be judged. Stop by if you want to see who won the blue ribbon (or the large, tricolored ribbon, as the case may be) in any of those events.

RELIANT STADIUM EVENTS

SATURDAY, February 25

Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series

For the first time, this series, which involves 40 bull riders and their bucking adversaries in an exhilarating eight-second battle, will be held in Reliant Stadium. It begins at 2 p.m. and will require the purchase of a separate ticket.

February 28-March 17

RODEOHOUSTON BP Super Series

Starting at 3:45 p.m. on the weekends and 6:45 p.m. on weekdays, this is the main event. Each day will bring another round and another chance at winning money and recognition for the competitors. The Super Series comes to its final crescendo with the championship on Saturday, March 17.

Each show will be followed by a concert starring a different musical guest, and that schedule is as follows:

(Every Wednesday is "Value Wednesday," meaning that ticket prices drop to $10.)

(Listings by date continue below.)
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Trail to Talent
This year's musical lineup has something for everyone.

Although the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is best known for its country music concerts with guests ranging from the fairly obscure to the superstar, it always tries to have a little something for everyone.

One of the standouts in this year's itinerary is Enrique Iglesias, the Latin heartthrob and singer of such classics as "Bailamos" and "Hero," who will be performing Tuesday, March 6, following that day's rodeo proper. It's a continuation of his Euphoria Tour, which brought him into Houston several months back on October 12. This is a second chance for fans who missed him the first time around, and possibly the last for a while, since he will be heading south of the border once he finishes with the Rodeo.

Hometown favorite ZZ Top will also be gracing the stage. This will be the fourth time the bearded Houston heroes entertain the rodeo crowd, the last time being in 2009. Their performance will take place on March 18.

And for the children, the usual Disney Channel graduate has been replaced with Nickelodeon alumnus Big Time Rush — a band of four teen boys known for performing on Big Time Rush, a television show about a band of four teen boys.

Among the other guests are Kid Rock, who will be helping to celebrate Armed Forces Appreciation Day on February 29, country star Miranda Lambert on March 13, her husband and The Voice judge Blake Shelton on March 7, up-and-coming sibling act The Band Perry on March 2, R&B artist John Legend on March 14, and many more.
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PERFORMERS

Tuesday, Feb. 28 (Opening Night)

Alabama [See Playbill]

Wednesday, Feb. 29 (Armed Forces Appreciation Day)

Kid Rock

Thursday, March 1

Lady Antebellum

Friday, March 2 (Black Heritage Day)

John Legend

Saturday, March 3

Luke Bryan

Sunday, March 4

Big Time Rush

China Anne McClain

From A.N.T. Farm, With The McClain Sisters

Monday, March 5

Eli Young Band

Tuesday, March 6

Enrique Iglesias

Wednesday, March 7

Blake Shelton

Thursday, March 8

ZZ Top

Friday, March 9

(Paint the Rodeo Pink Day)

Reba

Saturday, March 10

Chris Young

Sunday, March 11 (Go Tejano Day)

Duelo

La Original Banda El Limon

Monday, March 12

Zac Brown Band

Spring Break Stampede

Tuesday, March 13

Miranda Lambert

Wednesday, March 14

The Band Perry

Thursday, March 15

Jason Aldean

Friday, March 16

Train

Saturday, March 17

Brad Paisley

SUNDAY, MARCH 18

Cinch RODEOHOUSTON Super Shootout: North America's Champions

This event is a one-day rodeo, separate from the Super Series, that includes the champions from ten different rodeos in the United States and Canada competing in one final showdown. Athletes will face off in bareback riding, barrel racing, bull riding and saddle bronc riding for a whopping $200,000. The event begins at 3:30 p.m. and will be followed by a concert featuring Alan Jackson.

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