Houston Bucket List -- 100 Things to Do in Houston Before You Die: Saddle Up, Cowboy
The Houston Press is presenting a series of posts leading up to a feature story in the print edition of the 100 Things to Do in Houston Before You Die. Each blog post contains one of our top 10 bucket list items along with nine others in the top 100. To narrow our list, we chose only items unique to Houston -- or items to which Houston provides a unique twist -- and everything on the list must be in or occur within 30 miles of downtown Houston (so, nothing from Galveston, for example). We welcome your suggestions in the comment section.
Photos by Jeff Balke
Some Houstonians embrace their cowboy heritage -- perhaps a little more than they should -- while others shun it like the plague. It can be both a blessing and a curse in a town that is often synonymous with such things even if you almost never see a guy walking around downtown on a Wednesday in a 10-gallon hat. In our fourth installment of the Houston Bucket List, we tip our hats of the non-cowboy variety to our uneasy acceptance of the days when Main Street was a dirt road and instead of slanted car parking, there were hitches for your horse.
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.