Sunday, February 6, 2011

Not Our First Rodeo...

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo celebrated its 115th year in 2011. That's a lot of ropin' and a-wranglin' and based on the crowds when we went, it might well run for another 115 years. Even though it runs for about three weeks, the place was jammed. There were three rodeo's per day - they need that many just to get all the entrants through the qualifying rounds. This is part of the pro-rodeo circuit: there were over 1,200 contestants and $575,000 in prize money. Some of the entrants had over $600K in annual winnings, but I suspect that money came from the televised PBRA events from Las Vegas, Calgary, etc.

It was great entertainment value and the arena was packed. Some small rodeo's do not have the full complement of events but the FWSS&R had 'em all: bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing, bull riding... and even chuck-wagon racing, which comes as close to Ben Hur style chariot racing as you will see. My favorite is the tie down roping:

I think this guy was done in about 13 seconds, there are video's on Youtube where the times are under 7 seconds. Remarkable horsemanship and roping skills. We seen one contestant who had roped the calf but was having trouble because the horse was not keeping the lariat taut; the cowboy signalled to the horse to back up. The horse obliged, tightening the rope around the calf's leg and thereby subduing him a bit and the cowboy was able to complete the job. We have had fun since running the beagles around the living room and practicing this maneuver.

The next favorite part of the FWSS&R is the actual stock show. Families from all over Texas spend the year getting cattle, pigs, horses, sheep, chickens etc. ready for judging and spend days hanging around the pens getting their animals to look their best. There was more combing and blow-drying going on than backstage at a Broadway show. The Longhorns had already come and gone but there were plenty of Herefords, Brahman's, Jersey, Holstein and so on... We were there in time to see the sheep judging and a couple of sheep being sheared.

The noisiest barn by far was that with the fowl. The roosters were in fine form, take a listen to this chap:

Now magnify that cacophony by about 500. No wonder there are city ordinances about raising chickens. At 6am, this would cause civil war in some neighborhoods.

We had a great old time. Next year we might go on a week day and avoid some of the crowds. It certainly blows the Texas State Fair away. It is more about agriculture and family oriented - the Texas State Fair is basically a giant midway and expensive to boot.

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