TOP RODEOS IN THE LONE STAR STATE
BY CHRISTINA GARCIA
PHOTOS SCOTT FOLEY, OFFICIAL SAN ANTONIO RODEO PHOTOGRAPHER, FORT WORTH STOCK SHOW & RODEO, RODEO AUSTIN, MARK MATSON
Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo
With deep roots in Texas history, the rodeo is a cultural tradition and exhibition of skill where participants spur bucking horses, rope and wrestle cattle, and race around the arena for prize money and bragging rights across Texas.
Hand in hand with stockyards, many modern rodeos include extra enticements to attend, including barbecue competitions, carnivals, live music, shopping, and petting zoos. And because rodeo history is also tied to Spanish and Mexican culture — the word rodeo comes from the Spanish word rodear, or to surround — many of the big-city rodeos include a charreada — a Mexican rodeo, as a part of the popular, family-friendly past-time of a modern rodeo. Here are our top fi ve picks from the many rodeos available in the state.
FORT WORTH STOCK SHOW & RODEO
Boasting an “oldest continuously operating rodeo” title, this 1896-founded tradition springs to life each year and will be held from January 13 through February 4, 2023. The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, better known as the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, includes a dazzling pro rodeo competition and real-life ranch hands in Best of the West Rodeo.
The Cowboys of Color night on January 16th highlights African American, Hispanic, and Native American contributions to rural western traditions. The Texas Champions Challenge gathers the cream of the crop riders from across the Lone Star State, and the Best of Mexico Celebration showcases traditional charreada events with escaramuzas, mariachis, and charros in distinctive embroidered suits. Hear a concert in the Bud Light Roadhouse, and while you’re in town, don’t miss the cattle drive on East Exchange Avenue in the Stockyards National Historic District — a historically accurate blast from the past. Location: 3400 Burnett Tandy Drive Fort Worth, Texas 76107 Tickets: $39+ FWSSR.com
Rodeo Austin’s history stretches back to a small parade of 20 calves in the 1940 Baby Beef Show. Today, the event has grown into a nonprofi t scholarship fund generating a two-week exhibition of jaw-dropping pro rodeo competitions, livestock education, concerts, carnival rides, and more in mid-March. Watch cowboys execute extreme bareback riding, bull riding, and other ranch hand stunts, then cheer cowgirls barrel racing at breakneck speed in a cloverleaf pattern. Kids join in astride sheep for the mutton bustin’ competition. Check out the furry and feathered baby chicks in the chick hatchery, and then enjoy The Gold Stirrup Show, featuring riders with special needs. The event runs from March 10 to 25, 2023. Location: 9100 Decker Lake Road Austin, Texas 78724 Tickets: $30+ RodeoAustin.com
HOUSTON LIVESTOCK SHOW AND RODEO
Throw a chuck wagon race into the playbill of rodeo events in an enormous stadium in Texas’ largest city, and you get the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. No modern-day horse girl worth her salt would miss what the Houston Rodeo calls “one of the most prestigious horse shows in the world,” and certainly, no animal lover could skip the baby Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo animals birthing center, petting zoo, or pony rides. Check out the calendar of events for neurodivergent-friendly accommodations such as Sensory Friendly Day when, according to the website, “there will be minimal lights and sounds permitted in the carnival.” Also, enjoy a mariachi band competition and charro events on Go Tejano Day and more. The rodeo, established in 1931, runs from February 28 to March 19 this year. Location: NRG Parkway Houston, Texas 77054 Tickets: $25+ RodeoHouston.com
SAN ANTONIO STOCK SHOW AND RODEO
The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo ropes from February 9 through 26 this year and includes a charreada event that transports viewers to old-time Mexico. Only six ranches are invited to participate in the Ranch Rodeo, a different kind of competition that features teams of cowboys from working ranches. They compete against each other in events like what they do every day, such as steer loading, calf branding, roping, and tying. Concerts, fairgrounds, and vendors make this a well-rounded event for the family, and of course, the nearby Riverwalk is a wonderful place to stop while you’re in town. Location: 723 AT&T Center Parkway San Antonio, Texas 78219 Tickets: $15+ SARodeo.com
WEST OF THE PECOS RODEO
Kicking off the rodeo with a free parade, the West of Pecos Rodeo is our pick for the best outside-the-city and off-thebeaten-path rodeo. After all, rodeos are a showcase of life away from the metropolis. Visit the Old Timers Reunion to hear the elders chew the cud and regale visitors with stories of ranch times long past. Or bring your boots to two-step at the Sheriff’s Posse Nightly Dance. You’ve only got four days in June, from the 21st to the 24th, to enjoy this classic rodeo under the big West Texas sky. Location: 1556 S Cedar Street Pecos, Texas 79772 Tickets: $10+ PecosRodeo.com