I never realized just how big a deal the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is until I moved to this fair city. Back home in Victoria we have a livestock show, but being that I've never been the most agriculturally inclined person all that livestock shows ever meant to me was that the carnival was in town.
To my surprise, I've become rather fond of this yearly tradition. While many of my friends are ambivalent or downright hostile toward it, I genuinely look forward to it now. Sure, traffic gets a little worse in certain parts of town, the parking lot can be an absolute nightmare, and I'll never be able to pull off the cowboy look, but these are all things that I'm willing to deal with in the name of a good time.
As we prepare to say goodbye to the rodeo until the next year, here are five things that I love about it that I wish I could have year round.
5. Carnivals That Don't Look Like Death Traps
I am a carnival enthusiast. Sure, I'm not a huge fan of riding rides, but I could spend an entire evening just walking around a carnival taking it and be completely content. Of course, a big reason I'm averse to riding rides is because your average small down/parking lot carnival looks like the rides are held together with duct tape and chewing tobacco. As long as the city doesn't have an amusement park, carnivals will have to do, and it would be nice to have one year round that has a Zipper that doesn't look like a moving tetanus factory.
4. Real Life Adorable Animals
I'm a child of the Internet. This means I hate going outside and that I love cute animals. That means that the odds of me going out to a farm to see baby chicks is basically nil as long as cute animal slideshows exist. One of the first things I do every rodeo is go check out the rodeo babies. They just make me smile. Someone is missing out on making a mint by having a year round cute factory in-town full of adorable, tiny animals.
3. People That Are In A Good Mood
While there's always that frustrated parent, the couple that's having a breakdown right before the concert starts, or person who is really, really mad that someone cut in front of them to get on the tram, generally speaking everyone at the rodeo is having a good time. Kids are freaking out and having a blast. The wine garden is full of folks enjoying a nice glass outside. Music fans get to scream along to their favorite songs. The vibe is just really upbeat and positive in a way you'll wish was more prevalent next time you're at the mall Christmas shopping.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
2. Absolutely Unhealthy Fried Food
It goes without saying that one really doesn't need to eat fried cookie dough and chicken fried bacon all year round, but dammit wouldn't it be nice? The rodeo is a wonderland of fried food that's completely ridiculous and really shouldn't exist. What kind of evil genius invents a corn dog that has a pickle shoved in between the hot dog and the batter? Who looks at cheesecake and thinks, "that's great, but it needs to be fried to really bring it all home?" People I wish had food trucks that I could give money to year round, that's who.
1. A Vibrant, Busy Reliant Park
Lots of events take place around the Astrodome year round, but by and large if you drive down that section of 610 all you're going to see is a whole bunch of concrete doing a whole lot of nothing. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's an eyesore; really, it's just kind of a bummer. That's a whole lot of space in the city not being used to the fullest extent. It's so beautiful during rodeo time with the lights and the people running around that it makes the grey emptiness of the rest of the year kind of depressing. I'm as sick as the rest of you of talking about the fate of the Astrodome, but I for one would like to see a little more life in the area non-football Sundays the rest of the year.