I'm pretty sure it wan't on my top ten list of favorite things to do when I was 12, and I know for certain that I absolutely refused to wear the hat and boots that my cowboy-hat-salesman father encouraged me to, but now going to the rodeo is something I look forward to when we're in Texas, and also something I couldn't wait to introduce my kids to this year.
A few months ago, I was thinking about the different things we could do in Texas while here on sabbatical and the rodeo immediately came to mind, since it is held in February of each year. I looked up dates and performers online and decided that Lady Antebellum was the concert everyone would enjoy the most. I was about to call my dad to see if he wanted to get a group of tickets together when my youngest sister called to say that she and my dad had just purchased rodeo tickets for everyone. And just guess which concert night he bought tickets for? That's right ~ HE READ MY MIND! And I believe it was a sold out crowd. Wow!
My other sister and her kids weren't able to go, so we had extra tickets. My dad asked if we would try and find some friends to take. Well, I immediately thought of our new friends from Uganda ~ Jackie and Jonathan. They happened to be free that evening, and what fun it was to experience the rodeo through their eyes as well as the eyes of my never-been-to-a-rodeo-kiddos!
Circling around the horse arena over and over raking the dirt to prepare for a cutting horse demonstration, we decided this was the rodeo version of the "Zamboni." Don't know what a Zamboni is? Think ice skating and hockey.
Finding gluten free food and food that was palatable to our Ugandan friends was a bit difficult, but Jonathan enjoyed a traditional BBQ plate of sausage, brisket, beans, and white bread, and Jackie, who doesn't eat red meat, enjoyed a surprisingly healthy dish of soba noodles with chicken and veggies. Rodeo food really can't be expected to be healthy at all, unless you have convinced yourself that funnel cakes, chicken-fried bacon, and deep fried Snickers bars are a balanced diet.
As Jackie studied the various food vendors, she asked:
"Why does Bubba's say their BBQ is 'bad'?"
"Hmmmmm...... Well, because sometimes in America 'bad' means "really good' ?" I replied. Really, I don't know how anyone ever learns the English language at all, not to mention the slang that is forever evolving. Evidently, "sick" means "really good" now, too. At least that's what my kids tell me. Who can be expected to keep up with this opposite-meaning thing?
They were intrigued by the whole Cowboy Church thing, which is a really big thing here in the Great State, as well as the many farm implements (log splitters?! welders?!), and the display of Texas indigenous wildlife ~ more than any other state evidently, but I'm definitely not missing the rattlers, tarantulas, and scorpions.
Our tickets, unfortunately, were not all together, but with my super-zoom lens I could spy on Cooper, my dad, and my sister, Melinda, in their far off section of the arena! Let's see...which of these three does not belong at the rodeo? Yeah, Cooper was secretly hoping the dirt and manure would disappear and the Spurs home basketball court would emerge with Derrick Rose attempting to shoot 3-pointers.
Jonathan was shocked by the steepness and height of our seats, and could not believe parents would allow their children to sit up that high.
"Has anyone ever fallen from their seat?" he asked, and declared that he would probably never bring his children to such a dangerous place. ☺
We all cracked up at the Mutton Bustin' event in which VERY small children try and
hold on for dear life ride a sheep for as long as they can. Gateway to buckin' broncos and bull-riding, really. A darling little red-headed, freckled, four year old won this event and went home with a prize belt buckle which was literally as big as she was.
I think the Yankee kids and the Ugandans were rooting for the poor calves in the team roping and in the steer wrestling. And as always, the bull-riding was exciting and intense, but not as much as I remember as a child. Seems like the rodeo clowns did a lot of taunting of the bulls in order to create more thrill back then ~ scurrying up the arena fences or diving into their protective barrels. If I'm remembering correctly, they also used to attach their barrel to a hook that would pull them high into the air to get away from the angry bulls. It was quite a sight, and sort of stressful, but very exciting to watch back then.
And Lady Antebellum did not disappoint, of course, with their post-Grammy awards performance that night. The concert did not start until after 10pm (the rodeo events began at 7:30 and we got in our seats at 6:30), so I thought it might be difficult for our guests to sit through more of this Texas cultural experience, but I was wrong! They loved every bit of the evening, and kept perfect time with the loud music by clapping and swaying throughout the entire concert, which did not end until around 11:30pm.
It was SUCH a fun evening ~ even more than I anticipated because of the friends we got to share it with. They were great sports, and except for passing on wearing the cowboy hat, definitely followed the "when in Rome" mindset.
Then we took everyone home in a torrential downpour and thunderstorm, and finally made it back to Austin and our beds at 2:30am. Then it was 40th birthday parties and half-marathons and homeschool work and fajita fellowships with old college friends, and...
Whew ~ this sabbatical is exhausting. In a good and rich way, of course. ☺