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Monday, September 23, 2019 — Houston, TX 87°

Rodeo Houston 2019: Who to see, what to eat

rodeo-illustration-esther-tang
Illustrated by Esther Tang

By Christina Tan     2/26/19 9:33pm

Fried bacon-wrapped cinnamon rolls, “minnepumpkin” pie, a $2.17 million prize pool — who says Texans don’t have culture? It’s time to put on newly-bought cowboy boots and sweat in jeans because the Houston Rodeo is in town. A conglomeration of carnival, cowboy sport and musical performances, the three-week-long Houston Rodeo is a spring must-go for both native Texans and wanna-be Texans alike. 

WHO TO SEE

Unfortunately, if you’re reading this you’re too late — recent Grammy Award winner Kacey Musgraves performed on Monday. But Musgraves leads a star-studded music lineup, which includes authentic country artist Chris Stapleton, country/pop artist Brad Paisley, electronic dance music artist Zedd and hip-hop artist Cardi B. All performances are in the stadium itself and vary in cost depending on which seat you want — nosebleed seats usually cost around $20. Weekday performances start at 8:45 p.m. and weekend performances typically start at 5:45 p.m.



WHAT TO SEE

In addition to musical performances, the rodeo offers a different type of show: two cowboy-style shows, where competitors lasso, ride and trap their way to a $2.17 million prize pool. These shows are the Super Series and the Super Shootout, both of which include events like bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and barrel racing. Access to the shows is included in the sticker price for musical performances, but must be purchased in addition to grounds tickets (if you’re not seeing a musical performance). Get there early to see the grand entry and the national anthem salute, both of which include fireworks, color and much fanfare.

Grounds tickets are standard entrance, and give access to the carnival aspect of the rodeo. Hosted on the grounds outside of NRG stadium, the carnival includes rides, food and mini-cowboy shows: think little children trying their best to hang onto sheep. However, the rodeo ain’t cheap — within the grounds, you must purchase separate tickets to buy food and access rides. A notable ride is the Ferris Wheel at night, which provides a scenic view of the entire rodeo.

In addition to the carnival, grounds access also includes the livestock show and birthing center. You can watch farm animals give birth — weird, but if you want to call yourself an authentic Texan, you gotta do what you gotta do.

WHAT TO EAT

On the grounds, you can access a blissful amount of fried food. From fried butter to fried Nutella to fried Pop Tarts, prepare your arteries for crunchy, oily goodness (my favorite are the fried Oreos, a rodeo staple). The prices are admittedly steep, but the experience is unique. If you didn’t get a taste of turkey leg at North Servery, be sure to cop one of these monsters to bring around on your rodeo adventures — but find someone to share it with, as they tip the scale at 1.5 pounds.

HOW TO GO

The weather is perfect to go in full yeehaw outfit — any later, and your denim will be drenched in sweat. To get to the rodeo, take the METRORail to the Stadium Park/Astrodome stop and get off right outside of the grounds. Alternatively, an Uber/Lyft will run you around $10. Tickets cost $15 for general grounds entry and an extra $20 or more for musical performance/rodeo entry. Keep an eye out for “Family Wednesdays,” which include $2 rides, games and food from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The Houston Rodeo continues until March 17 and is located at NRG Park and Stadium.



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