The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is officially in full swing and planning your life and other events around that annual event isn't as hard as it seems. Although you want to maximize your time at the rodeo so that you can try every new dish and ride every ride, there's also a point where you also want to burn those calories and touch base with the other sides of Houston. From rodeo to regatta, Houston has your weekend covered with our five best bets.
Save your seat, fellas — this one’s for the girls: The ladies are saddling up for their second consecutive year of Women’s Ranch Rodeo. Twelve all-female groups will compete to claim bragging rights and a coveted gold buckle in what is sometimes misconstrued as a man’s job. Cowgirls ranging from age 18 to 55 are coming from as far away as California for their shot at the title. They’ll compete in the sorting, pasture doctoring and branding events (using tools dipped in flour to leave a mark instead of a hot iron). All the activities simulate what a rancher would face on an ordinary day and help reinforce the safest and most humane ways to raise livestock. Stephanie Jones, co-president of the South Texas Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association, details her excitement. “It’s cool to know a major entity like Houston wants to see women kick butt.” Yes. We. Do! We know you want to, Houston; catch the female-strong event this Friday afternoon at the Houston Rodeo.
1 p.m. March 10. NRG Arena, 1 NRG Park. For information, call 832-667-1080 or visit rodeohouston.com. Free to $10.
They don’t call Houston the Bayou City for nothing. Forget concrete and traffic and paddle your way down 15 miles of waterways during the 45th Annual Buffalo Bayou Partnership Regatta, presented by Gillman Subaru, an adrenaline-filled jaunt that starts at San Felipe and Voss and wraps up at Sesquicentennial Park downtown. Trudi Smith, Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s director of public relations and events, describes its popularity. “This is a great race because you get to see Houston from a completely different perspective: from water level. It’s narrow, shallow and very lush. There’s wildlife like turtles, birds and fish.” The top three finishers in each category will walk away with awards, and one team will earn the Shell Styrofoam Cup for picking up the most trash along the course. Afterwards, crack open a cold one from Saint Arnold Brewing Company and enjoy a free lunch, or visit one of the food trucks while jamming to live zydeco music. The party starts this Saturday morning and convenes at Sesquicentennial Park; go and celebrate with regatta participants, park enthusiasts and whatever local critters that decide to show up too.
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Begins at 7700 San Felipe; ends at Sesquicentennial Park, 400 Texas. For information, call 713-752-0314 or visit buffalobayou.org. $25 to $60.
Chances are, if you can't draw worth beans now, you're not going to get any better with the Tilt Brush by Google. But this virtual-reality experience is an infinitely cooler way to create three-dimensional paintings, and those who have experienced it have been blown away. It's been installed at Rice University's new Moody Center for the Arts and is now up for display and use. "You put on a virtual-reality headset and there's a handheld device that works like a paintbrush and palette, and you'll be able to see that on an output," says Alison Weaver, the Suzanne Deal Booth executive director. Weaver says Rice is the first institution to make it available to the public. User reviews are effusive, ranging from "I made a Dragon" (ProSonicDagan) to "This is serious science fiction magic right here" (Cyrix). It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but some of these reviews of the Tilt Brush (from steamcommunity.com) certainly add depth to the experience. Get your weekend off to a creative running start by stopping by the new Moody Center for the Arts this Saturday morning.
Tilt Brush by Google opens to the public for its first full day on February 25. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Moody Center for the Arts, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-2787 or visit moody.rice.edu. Free.
There’s the typical circus magic show, and then there are world-famous magicians who would make even Harry Houdini do a double take. Find the latter with The Illusionists — Live From Broadway, a group of seven artists from around the world who thrill audiences with cutting-edge tricks of this age-old craft. The show is billed as a combination of stunning acts, including grand illusion, levitation, mind reading, disappearance and the always-intriguing water torture escape. Projection screens and 360-degree views help make audience members feel they’re right next to the action. “It’s a magic show for people who love magic shows and an even better show for people who hate magic shows,” says performer Dan Sperry, a.k.a. The Anti-Conjurer. “It’s like the MTV Video Music Awards but better because we don’t have Miley Cyrus.” The Anti-Conjurer can escape it all, so it seems, but can he escape Houston traffic during rush hour? Let's hope so since he's set to perform this Saturday.
4 and 7:30 p.m. March 11. Smart Financial Centre, 18111 Lexington, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-207-6278 or visit smartfinancialcentre.net. $45 to $100.
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The rodeo is getting drop-dead fabulous, thanks to Out at the Rodeo, designed for the LGBT community and its allies to congregate and enjoy Houston’s annual shebang. Event co-chair Doug Mason says the group originated from humble beginnings. “When I moved to Houston, I heard about the rodeo. I asked about the LGBT day, and people looked at me like I was crazy, so we put together a casual event.” Participation is easy: Order an Out at the Rodeo T-shirt in advance and sport it at the festivities; sales benefit AIDS Foundation Houston. If you see someone else wearing the same shirt, you know you’re both part of the same group. The party starts at noon at the Champion Wine Garden, but people can arrive at their leisure and find the group via Twitter updates (#OATR2017) or on Facebook Live. Plus, if you purchased tickets to The Chainsmokers concert, watch it from the elite Committeeman’s Lounge this Sunday night.
Noon to midnight Sunday. NRG Park, 1 NRG Park. For information, visit outattherodeo.com. $10 to $300.
Sam Byrd and Susie Tommaney contributed to this post.