The Houston Rodeo: Ten Classic Pictures

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Rodeo excitement is here, as our version of the State Fair ramps up with the trail riders nearing the city and Go Texan Day Friday.

The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo people were nice enough to let us rifle through their archive of pictures, and we've presented ten of them for you. The one above, for instance, may look like any photo of the year's Grand Champion Steer, but if you look closer -- say, under the steer's body -- you'll see that despite his placid demeanor he's doing the cow equivalent of pissing his pants with excitement.

The rest of the rodeo top ten:

9. The Parks Are Full of Twirlers Twirling was apparently a very popular activity back in the days when Separate Tables was playing on the big screen -- the city's Parks & Rec department was able to field quite a contingent. The Park & Rec's Banner Graphics Club, however, was apparently less of a draw.

8. By All Means Necessary The whitest crowd ever, until Sarah Palin came along, watches a classic tow-headed boy hold on for dear life in the calf scramble.

7. Johnnie Walker, Trail Rider A successful trail ride needs the proper supplies: Lone Star by the case, Johnnie Walker by the box. And whatever you do, don't forget the accordions.

6. Strange Fascination A crowd of people push forward to see cars driving on a downtown street, something they couldn't see on an ordinary day. Meanwhile, some guy who must be from Back East, to judge by his clothing, hangs back from this whole strange "rodeo" thing.

5. That '70s Show Female hairstyles and male sideburns place this solidly in the '70s. To be honest, between the red-and-white checked tablecoth, the sunglasses, slicked-back hair and ever-so-slight air of being above it all, the guy sitting in the forefront looks like he should be at Little Italy's San Gennaro Festival instead of a BBQ Cook-Off.

4. By God, Car Hoods Were Designed for Sitting Back Then Just try to park that many kids on a Prius hood. (Not to mention that we'd like to see Blake Griffin jump over this in the dunk contest.) We don't know what we dig more: the littlest one's boots, or those pants.

3. Hello, Darlin' This is a classic Trail Ride picture. Of course, Pops in the wagon is used to fine-looking women a-comin' up and trying to get the time of day from him. Comes with being a legend.

2. Rex Allen, Troubador Pretty typical Go Texan Parade picture here, although note that the banner announces the rodeo's main draw that year as Rex Allen. If Allen is not on your radar, he was a cowboy singer whose big hit -- well, let's let Wikipedia describe "Don't Go Near the Indians":

The song is a tale of a young man who disobeys his father's advice stated in the title. When the father finds out that he had developed a relationship with a beautiful Indian maiden (named Nova Lee), he decides to reveal to his son what he had kept secret for so long: The man's biological son was killed by an Indian (as stated in the lyrics) during a clash between the white man and a tribe, and in retaliation, he kidnapped the boy as a young baby and raised him as his son. The other secret: His son cannot marry Nova Lee because she's the boy's biological sister.

That's got more exposition than the Gilligan's Island theme. The final verse and beginning of the chorus:

Though you're a Full-blooded Indian, son / I love you as much as my / Own little feller that's dead / And, son, Nova Lee is your sister / And that's why I've always said / Son, don't go near the Indians....

1. Giant Mutant Kids We don't know what we like better here -- the massive fins on this tiny car, or just about every freaking thing about Simpson's Dining Car.

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