In 1938, Rodeo Austin started out as a small stock show. Located at, 9100 Decker Lake Road, it has become one of the premier events in Austin, taking place for fifteen days, from March 11th through the 25th.
Entertaining crowds with more than 100 live music performances, by many local artists, Rodeo Austin has previously featured such artists as Willie Nelson, Blake Shelton, Maroon 5, and Lady Antebellum.
There is also a family friendly fair that runs the length of the rodeo with a large carnival, shopping, food, kidstown, wild west show and pig race. Shopping includes unique shopping opportunities with vendors located in the Exhibit Hall, Rodeo Arena Mezzanine and various outdoor locations, selling everything from cowboy boots and hats to furniture and children's toys.
The fair includes “Chow Town”, located outside the Rodeo Arena and includes cotton candy, corndogs, turkey legs and plenty of fresh made lemonade. Kidstown includes an expansive petting zoo with a special section of babies.
The Wild West Show takes place daily along with roping artistry, and a sheep dog riding monkey. The pigs race to be the first to eat an Oreo cookie and takes place six times daily.
Rodeo Austin is probably the best place to get a taste of everything Austin, including the true Texas heritage of cowboy boots, hats, dirt, cattle, horses, and the thrill and excitement of bull riding. Although this is not the biggest rodeo in Texas, it's rates as one of ProRodeo's and the nation's top 10 rodeos.
A typical rodeo, for those uninitiated, includes, bareback riding, steer wrestling, mutton bustin', team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
Bareback riding, and saddle bronc riding share the fact that a human rider tops a horse, that has not been tamed and does not want to be ridden, for 8 seconds, trying not to be thrown off. The designations, “bareback”, and “saddle bronc”, obviously indicate that the horse either has a saddle, during the event, or does not have a saddle. In both cases the rider must not only stay on the horse for the entire 8 seconds, but just like figure skating, must show “form” and is judged on that form for the entire ride. The rider is also judged on the performance of the horse that is to be ridden. Horses are assigned to riders in a blind drawing. And every rider wants to get the most difficult horse to ride. Because the more difficult the ride, the higher the points.
Bull riding shares the same 8 second ride as bareback and saddle bronc riding, but on the back of a bull. You don't want to find yourself alone in a pasture with one of these 2,000 pound monsters. They not only have a nasty disposition, but the muscle to create real damage. And typically, they prove that every time a cowboy gets on top of one of these wild animals during the rodeo.
Rodeo clowns and bullfighters may look like they're having fun, during bull riding events, but their main concern is the safety of the cowboy coming off the bull. Their nimbleness and instantaneous reactions can truly be the difference between a close call and a life-time injury for the bull riding cowboy.
Team roping, the only team event in rodeo, includes two cowboys or cowgirls, teamed together with their horses, attempting to rope a steer, in full flight. One of the riders ropes the steer around the horns and the other must rope the steer's hind legs. The faster they achieve their goal, the better their time and the more likely they are to win their competition.
Tie-down roping is a contest between a horse and rider against steer. The objective is for the cowboy to rope the steer, while in full flight, from horseback, then leaping off, while the horse knowingly brings the steer to a stop so the cowboy can tie three of the steer's legs. Again, the faster the work is completed the better the standing in the competition.
Barrel racing is a ladies only event and pits a rider and their well trained horse against time, while riding their horse around three barrels, in a cloverleaf pattern. It is not only an extremely competitive event, but the horse and rider must think and behave as one to succeed.
Steer wrestling, consists of chasing down a steer via horseback then jumping off, grabbing the steer by the horns and wrestling it to the ground by lifting and tipping it over. Again, time is of the essence and the fastest to complete the task wins.
Mutton bustin' is an event where young cowboys and cowgirls ride a sheep for six seconds. They are scored, just like the professionals on their performance during the ride. Every participant wins a trophy with the winner each night winning a custom belt buckle.
If attending an honest to goodness, old-fashion cowboy rodeo is on your bucket list, you can't miss the annual Rodeo Austin event.