Rodeo is a big thing here in San Antonio, and this year we decided to check out the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, a two-week event held in the AT&T Center and adjacent grounds. Started in 1950, this is one of the big events in town, and brings in some of the best known Country Music entertainers. This year featured stars like Toby Keith, Trace Adkins and Alan Jackson, and even a few pop groups like Foreigner. Since we’re not crazy about fighting big crowds, we decided to visit on a Thursday afternoon, on a sunny and fairly warm day.
Like most events of this kind, tickets were sold depending on what you wanted to see. There were separate tickets (and prices) for the rodeo, the carnival, entertainment, and even a “Rodeo Star Experience”. Since there wasn’t much going on this Thursday afternoon, we settled for the “Grounds Pass” (only $5 for seniors), and began to explore.
We quickly discovered that although it’s billed as a rodeo and stock show, it also has the largest group of vendors we’ve ever seen, scattered throughout arenas and exhibition halls. There had to be at least 500 vendors, and amazingly, they all offered quality goods; clothing (lots of cowboy stuff), jewelry, leather goods, and more. We bought some amazingly good blackberry and jalapeno jam, green tomato-jalapeno relish, and a few containers of designer pasta - and the prices were actually reasonable! But the real treat was roaming the grounds and taking in the sights.
The food vendors here would make a cardiac surgeon delirious – the Monster Burger booth sold one and two-pound hamburgers, dripping with enough grease to lubricate the motorhome….mmm good! How about some alligator on a stick (the best place for them), or the best of Wisconsin and Texas combined, the Jalapeno Cheese Curds? Since it’s Texas, the home of chicken-fried everything, we weren’t surprised to see chicken-fried bacon…yum! And of course, you’d want to top everything off with a delicious dessert like the “hot beef sundae”. As Brenda and I sat in the food area eating our relatively healthy funnel cake (light on the powdered sugar) and drinking a Diet Coke to cancel out the calories, we could hear a sound kind of like someone crumpling cellophane - it turned out to be the sound of arteries hardening.
There were a lot of interesting things to see as we walked the rodeo grounds. There were actors and gunfights, huge Percheron horses (one weighed 2300 pounds!), tractors and horse trailers, and agricultural exhibits. Besides the carnival, there were plenty of activities for the young, and we watched as the Rodeo Queen and her court taught their little princess how to lasso a metal cow, and this little girl having trouble deciding which horse she wanted . And just to illustrate that the Federal Government doesn’t have anything over Texas when it comes to doublespeak, we ran across this amazingly uninformative sign in an “equine” area.
Overall, we had a great time and were impressed with the event – we’ll be back next year, after all, who doesn’t crave chicken-fired bacon followed by a hot beef sundae?
We also had a chance to meet for lunch with friends Kirk and Pam, who we first met while volunteering at Lee Metcalf NWR in Montana. I’d followed their blog even before we began full timing, as they’re the masters of full timers and volunteering and they’re at their 23rd location now. We had a good time catching up and comparing experiences over a long lunch. One of the amazing aspects of our lifestyle is that we make new friends all over the country, and then run into them again somewhere else in our travels.
Only five weeks until it’s “jacks up, slides in, and fire up the Cat” time. We’re both getting antsy and are ready to travel again. Come back and visit to see what we’re up to!