That’s today – Go Texan Day. It’s the day the rodeo comes to town. The day all the trail riders converge on Houston. It’s the day people put on their boots, bolo ties and big hats. It heralds the opening of the Houston Rodeo and Fat (sorry – Live) Stock Show which is the largest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the world.
The trail rides started in the early 1950 to reenact the trail ride of 19th century cattlemen bringing their herds to Houston. Of course, today’s rides are not as dangerous or difficult as they would have been in the 1800’s. Today they have use of all the newest technology and the odd camper and RV plus they are populated by doctors, lawyers, bankers, and a cowboy or two. There are 12 or 15 different trail riders coming from north, south, east and west like: Los Vaqueros Rio Grande Trail Ride from Reynosa, Mexico; The Salt Grass Trail Ride from Brenham; The Northeastern Trail Riders from Cheek; Mission Trail Ride from San Antonio; The Texas Independence Trail Ride from Brazoria plus others. I remember one day, standing on the roof of the old Fluor buildings in the early 1980’s watching as riders and wagons came up the 610 Loop feeder street heading to Memorial Park. It was fun to watch. I would not want to do it.
In the way-back, when I first went to the Rodeo and Fat Stock Show, it was held in the Sam Houston Coliseum, an indoor arena near downtown. Competitions included calf roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc and bareback bronc riding, bull riding, and barrel racing. The star attractions tended to be western actors - Hugh O'Brian (Wyatt Earp), Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, James Arness (Gunsmoke) and so forth. I have to say, I never did enjoy the Rodeo portion too much. Well, the “calf scramble” was always fun to watch.
That’s where they turn a bunch of 200-pound calves loose in the arena. Then add in a group of kids age 14-18 to try to catch one, get a halter on it, and haul it to a designated area. And do it in a specific amount of time. Winners get a calf to raise.
I always did enjoy the Fat Stock Show. There was (still are) a huge number of farm/ranch animals – cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits, and more, all there to be seen and judged. Interesting. And, then there was the Carnival with rides and games.
It’s something to experience.