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Wondering where to go for your next staycation destination? Look no further than around our home state. We Texans are lucky that we live in a state that’s home to countless incredible attractions that’ll have the whole family eagerly anticipating the next weekend road trip. To help you decide where to go, we’ve put together a series that explores the best things to see and do in the state depending on what month it is. In March, there’s no better place to be than in Houston for the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
ABOUT THE HOUSTON LIVESTOCK SHOW AND RODEO
The largest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the world, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a whirlwind three-plus weeks of livestock shows, carnival rides and games, shopping and — oh, yes — concerts. Last year, it drew more than 2.5 million visitors. And while the rodeo serves up a heaping promise of good fun, good food and good music, it also raises money for scholarships, educational program grants and graduate assistantships. In fact, since its 1932 beginning, the rodeo has committed more than $500 million to Texas youth and education, so you can feel good about having a good time.
WHEN TO RODEO
The rodeo kicks off on Tuesday, March 3rd and goes until Sunday, March 22nd, so be sure to spend some time deciding when you want to go. If you’re more interested in the livestock shows, you’ll want to start by looking at the daily calendar, which details when everything from horses and cattle to llamas and poultry will be featured. And if you’re more interested in the concert series, visit their website to check out when your favorite acts are performing (helpful hint: do this sooner than later as tickets go quick.) And don’t worry about missing the rodeo — there’s one every evening as the competitors work toward the Super Series Championship Round.
HOW TO RODEO
There are two different competitions at the rodeo — the 19-day Super Series and the one-day Super Shootout. Both competitions total a $2.17 million payout, so you’re sure to see some of the sport’s biggest stars. It all starts with the Grand Entry — a winding trail of horses, buggies, carriages, hay wagons and fire trucks who bring in dignitaries, volunteers and special guests. Put down your cowboy hat and sing the “Star Spangled Banner” as a trick rider circles the arena carrying an American flag, then get ready for the main spectacle: tie-down roping, bareback riding, team roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing — and the always exciting and unpredictable bull riding.
Watch for rodeo clowns throughout as they do much more than entertain the crowd; they keep the cowboys safe when their animals become too rambunctious. And don’t miss the calf scramble where 4-H and FFA members try to catch a calf and the cute-as-a-button “Mutton Bustin’” that involves 5- and 6-year-olds riding a sheep.
LASSO UP ALL THE FUN
You may just want to plan on spending two or three days at the rodeo to make sure you lasso all the fun. Visit the Agventure hall to get up close to nearly every species of livestock and learn about agriculture; stop by the carnival to experience the thrill of more than 80 rides, challenging games and bite into all the turkey legs, corn dogs and funnel cakes you can eat. Little cowboys and cowgirls will like The Junction, which has classic carnival games and rides sized just for them, as well as other activities; and those who like to shop will have more than 300 vendors to visit at the rodeo. After all the activity, “wine down” at the Champion Wine Garden, which features more than 70 wines and live music.
ROCK OUT, RODEO-STYLE
For many rodeo-goers, all of the shopping, midway games, carnival rides and animals are just icing on the cake that is the rodeo’s concerts. You’ll find live music on various stages during the day, but the big concert happens each evening after the rodeo. This year’s rodeo will see 20 concerts on its stage, with performers and stars across music genres. Look out for talent that includes Willie Nelson, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Gwen Stefani, Chance the Rapper, Dierks Bentley and Lizzo.
WE’VE WRANGLED UP THE DETAILS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Hours for the exhibits and attractions are between 9am to 9pm and 10am to 9pm for shopping and dining; livestock show and horse show competitions start at 8am. Some attractions stay open until 10pm or midnight, depending on the day. Event goers can purchase a Grounds Pass that gives you access to all events at NRG Park except the rodeo and concert in NRG Stadium for $15/adults and $5 children. Rodeo/concert tickets give you access to it all; tickets range from $20 to $350 for individual performances. Options for MetroRail to the stadium, taxis, Uber or Lyft are also available with specific drop-off and pick-up zones. There is also ample parking around the area; the cost to park is $20.
Find full details in the rodeo visitor’s guide.