Scenes from the rodeo

It’s rodeo time again. The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is a big deal. It’s been going on since 1932, and in those years the rodeo has raised more than $330 million for agricultural scholarships, research, and educational programs.  It’s the largest livestock show in the world, and my fair city is the epicenter for all things rodeo. For 3 weeks every spring, people come from all over this great state and from farther afield to compete in all kinds of events. From bareback riding to calf roping to showing prized animals to producing works of art, the rodeo has it all. Then there’s the carnival, with rides and the most inventive fried foods ever conceived.

The first year we went to the rodeo, my kids looked like thisrodeo 007


rodeo 017

and they rode carnival rides like thisrodeo 020

Now they ride rides like this,img_2640

the highest set of swings in the world,

and this. Yikes166785_4879392221273_985662432_n

Read about our trip to the rodeo last year here, in which I feared for my life on one of these carnival rides.

While they’ve gotten bigger and more adventurous, one thing hasn’t changed: they still love to see the animals at the rodeo. IMG_0981

From the show ring to the petting zoo, the animals are the main attraction. IMG_0982

Some of the kids showing animals in the ring look so young, but they handle their animals with ease.IMG_0983

This little girl handled her 250-pound pig without a backward glance. IMG_0989

We took special interest in the pigs, of course. This one has similar coloring to our little piggie, but thankfully is a different breed. If Piper ever got this big, we’d be in trouble. IMG_0985

IMG_0986This black & white beauty grabbed a nap in the midst of the festivities, while this guy was wide awake and curious. IMG_0987

How could we resist that snout??

Watching these giant pigs walking to and from the show ring was fascinating. Although they barely glanced at each other as they passed, I kept expecting them to turn and sniff each other, and maybe even scuffle, the way dogs might.


Their handlers kept them on the right path by tapping them with a thin stick. We must get one of those for our wayward piggie.

These rodeo volunteers use yardsticks to keep the crowd back when it’s time for the larger animals to make their way to the show ring. IMG_0984

This pig needed to step on the scale before going to the show ring, but she wasn’t too happy about it. It took two guys to get her into the pen that holds the scale.

IMG_0990We stuck around to watch the battle, which the pig lost, and to see how much she weighed: 252 pounds!

Lots of babies are born at the rodeo each year. This little lamb made his entrance into the big wide world and was on display soon after.

IMG_0991This sweet Hereford was born just a few hours before we arrived. Mama looked proud, but tired. IMG_0995

Two litters of piglets were on display, as well. The Little Rascals were born last month and were running and playing. Their next-door neighbors, the Baconators, were a couple of weeks behind them but catching up fast. IMG_0993



There were more pigs in the petting zoo, including this little cutie. IMG_0997

There’s a phenomenon in our house called The Pig Flop, in which Piper enjoys the petting so much that she literally flops on the floor all at once, in one smooth movement. My favorite girl attempted to get a Pig Flop from each piggie in the petting zoo.

Including the pregnant piggies.IMG_1002

Of course she succeeded. She is the Pig Whisperer, after all.


We wondered if our little piggie would smell her rodeo relatives on us when we got home. It’s perhaps more likely that she smelled the deep-fried Snickers on Macy’s breath!

This llama won top awards for best haircut at the rodeo. IMG_0998

Not sure what that’s all about, but it was memorable.

And this little girl took the award for best t-shirt at the rodeo:IMG_0980

“If I can’t wear my boots, I ain’t goin” sums up the rodeo experience quite nicely. Lucky for her, boots are most welcome at the rodeo!

20 Comments on “Scenes from the rodeo”

  1. Eddie says:

    I love the picture of the kids eating their ice cream as it captures their personalities. The girl being her playful self and the boy being all business when it comes to his food. They have grown quite a lot but some things haven’t changed.

  2. When I started going to Houston to the rodeo as a little girl in the early 1950s, the name was the Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo. Much has changed in the intervening years with the rodeo, but it’s great to see the kids with their love of animals is the same! Even though I don’t face the Houston traffic to actually go any more, I do dust off my cowboy boots and wear them more than usual during rodeo days!! Good for your little girl the pig whisperer – it’s a special gift!

    • “Houston Fat Stock Show” is still applicable based on all the deep-fried treats on the midway, Sheila! For sure the traffic is terrible (Trevor & I nearly gave up one night as we crept along in front of Reliant, desperately seeking parking before a concert), but it’s worth the trip. Glad you’re wearing your boots!

  3. David Benbow says:

    I remember last year you devoted a special write-up for the piggie races. Do we get to look forward to that again this year? I’m glad you had fun.

  4. billgncs says:

    I Love the rodeo! Out in Sheridan where we have a cabin, my favorites are the Indian wild horse race, and Jocco the monkey who rides the dog.

    • We have a swimming piglet at the Houston rodeo, but no dog-riding monkey. I think I will have to submit a suggestion to the rodeo powers that be. Perhaps Jocco could make a guest appearance!

  5. mmr says:

    I thought I’d come so far away from growing up on a ranch, but that picture of the cow with her calf made me long for “back home” in the spring, seeing the beauty of babies of all kinds.

  6. jbaird says:

    What a fun time! I’m so glad you shared the pictures with us, Nancy! xox

  7. Barb Fernald says:

    That looks like a darn good time!

    • The only thing missing from our darn good time was a lobster roll! In all the rodeo food–everything from fish tacos to deep-fried Twinkies–I didn’t see a single lobster. Guess I need to head east for that!

  8. bethgainer says:

    I’ve never been to a rodeo, but from your pictures, it looks like such fun! The kids look happy, and the animals are beyond cute.

    • Glad you enjoyed, Beth, and thanks for reminding me not to take the rodeo for granted! Because it’s an annual, multi-week event it’s easy to forget that it’s pretty special.

  9. Your posts make me smile 🙂 Thanks for sharing the rodeo adventure! I would have loved to have seen those pig flops first-hand.

  10. Christy says:

    Best time of year in Houston. We were there right after the piglets were born. So adorable. Of course, we favor the bunnies–but all the animals are the highlight for our family, too! Oh, and George Strait!!!!! 🙂

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