Houston Bucket List -- 100 Things to Do in Houston Before You Die: Saddle Up, Cowboy

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Attend the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (and Carnival)

Visiting the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in all its grand spectacle is a sensory experience, somehow blending an amusement park (so tantalizingly close to where a real one used to be), a live concert, a food festival, a zoo and, well, a rodeo. It literally engages every sense. See people crazy enough to strap themselves to the backs of pissed off bulls. Smell the mix of barbecue, funnel cakes and manure. Listen to the booming bass of country bands rumbling behind thin vinyl tent walls. Taste a fried candy bar -- twice if you decide to eat it before getting on a carnival ride that spins you in circles. Feel the warm fur of a baby animal in a petting zoo.

In all honesty, the concerts most nights are anticlimactic. The real action is along the midway, inside the livestock portion of the show or during the, you know, actual rodeo. This is the place where, at least for a few days out of the year, you can let your inner cowpoke out for a mosey. Strap on your Ropers and stroll around in a big felt hat. No one will blink twice.

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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke