On Saturday night I attended my first rodeo, right here in Austin. Some friends and I have been saying for years that we should go and finally we did!
I’m willing to bet this experience will top my list for most Texan adventure of 2014, even after trying fried oreos for the first time back in January. (I was unimpressed by the oreos, but I’m still open to the idea of fried Thanksgiving dinner.)
Things began with the National Anthem, of course. A young girl carried the colors on horseback and took off at a gallop for the grand finale which sent the flag billowing behind. It was pretty cool.
Then the real deal started. Rodeos pass very quickly, so it’s best not to blink.
The Austin rodeo started out with horse bucking then moved onto the roping events before culminating in bull riding. In the middle there was an adorable few minutes of children riding sheep, including one sheep that didn’t seem to mind having a kid on its back and proceeded to just walk into the arena and gaze at the crowd instead of putting up a fuss and giving the 5 year old a run for his money.
At each stage, “clowns” are responsible for getting riders and bucking animals safely out of the ring. I was a bit disappointed that they weren’t actually dressed as clowns, but it was still impressive how they fearlessly distracted angry bulls and swooped in to rescue riders thrown from bucking horses.
I’m still not quite clear on the purpose of rodeos, but they did show respect for the animals at the end by parading the bucking horses around the ring to immense applause.
As if the spectacle hadn’t been enough, farm tractors then hauled out a rotating stage to the middle of the arena for a post-rodeo concert by Kevin Fowler. I had no idea who Kevin Fowler was before this show, but I recognized one of the songs and the lasers were pretty cool.
After the show ended, I battled traffic to get downtown where the last night of the SXSW music festival was in full swing. A friend of mine was passing through town on a road trip so it was great seeing him and having a reason to fight the crowds.