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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rodeo Report: Cows go Moo...

Each year since forever, my wife and I make a trip to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo on or around Valentines Day. I take off early from work, and usually, with one or both of our kids and a few tagalongs, we get their early enough in the day to avoid the crowds, walk around, eat some fried food, drink some draft beers, look at cows, pigs, horses, and people, and just enjoy the afternoon.

Then, by the time we are ready to leave, we have avoided the flood of people entering the grounds to attend the actual rodeo (bucking broncos, calf roping, fisticuffs) and concert that follows.

Of course, this year, my daughter couldn't join us because she and her husband are off in New Jersey dealing with the cold weather. My wife was none too pleased with this, but we have persevered and to make things lively, invited our neighbors Gus and Ruby to join us for the big walk around the stables.

These days, it seems kind of gross, what with people so health conscious and such, but for some reason, we always seem to have this hankering for that fried onion blossom. It sounds so good when you get there and you can just smell the trans-fats floating through the air. Now if you go to Chili's or probably the Outback (I wouldn't know since we stopped eating there years ago), when they serve up one of those fried onion blossoms, it comes with some sort of horse radish sauce or some crazy concoction that tastes spicy. We immediately fix that problem by ordering some honey mustard on the side. And usually, this is not a problem at the rodeo.

First thing we do as soon as we get in the rodeo is order up an onion. The booth you choose is a critical factor in how your onion experience goes. We chose wrong.
The blossom we got had clearly been cooked a few weeks ago (okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little) and was not even close to warm. They did not have honey mustard or even the standard horse radishy stuff that we don't like anyway. What they gave us was Ranch dressing. It is the rodeo, after all. Hey, I love Ranch Dressing. But not on an onion. Especially a just this side of cold onion.

I went down to the next booth selling onions and sheepishly asked the nice lady there how much would she charge me for a cup of honey mustard, and she just gave me some without a thought. Situation averted.
When you walk around the rodeo grounds, you get to participate in sampling of foods, and they issue you a big plastic bag (this year, provided by Country station Y-100), and you fill it with all the crap they are giving away. We got lots of fruit cups, almonds, Grill Mates, some coupons, and not much else. Pretty disappointing actually. I only whine about it because in previous years, we have loaded up big time. But what the heck.
There are a group of cowboy characters who put on little shows and to be honest, they are quite entertaining. I often wonder what these people do when there isn't a rodeo for them to perform in. I mean, let's face it, this isn't the type of look that fits in at bank, even in Texas. Though you can surely get a job selling papers on the corner every weekend, and this attire would be perfectly appropriate.We looked at this exhibit called "Birds of Prey". Holy crap. I kept thinking some of these things might make a tasty bar-b-q, but I have always been partial to yardbird.The main focus for us is going inside the old Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum which is located just next to the AT&T Center. For those readers not in San Antonio, The AT&T Center is where our beloved San Antonio Spurs play. During the rodeo (which requires that the basketball court be removed and the floor covered in dirt) the Spurs go on what is called the Rodeo Road Trip. More info than you will ever need if you are not a basketball fan or a Spurs fan.Anyway, we go into Freeman Coliseum because it is filled with vendors selling things that would appeal to people who go to rodeos. Everything from boots to country-fied clothing to turquoise jewelry (yeesh), to paintings of cowboys and just all sorts of stuff that I never buy. But it is nice to walk around there and observe the fancy cowboy duds that people have put on for the big trip to the rodeo.I'll try to put this delicately so as not to create consternation with my wife on Valentines day, but if you are a man, you should be aware that many of the ladies who come to rodeo dress to impress. I'll leave it at that.After walking through aisle after aisle of vendors, surely you will want some guy to give you a personality test, right? I wonder why it is they need your phone number and e-mail address to do the test? Could there be some future Spam or a few phone calls coming your way just when you sit down to eat dinner? Can't make it 8 seconds? Why not climb aboard a huge plastic bull and get a photo made so you can tell all your friends you didn't just go to the rodeo - your were the rodeo!
But for those people really into it, you can raise a real cow, get him all fattened up, brush his hair real perty, then parade him around the gorunds like these kids do. San Antonio Stock Show is one of the biggest put on for school aged kids to compete in. And when they are done, the winners get purchased, slaughtered and served up as steak! Yum!For my wife, one of the highlights is this big, huge, really tall horse named Thor who shows up every year. Thor is some sort of Flemish breed horse that stands 20 hands tall. To give you a frame of reference, the Budweiser Clydesdale's look like Small Horse, Big World characters compared to Thor. He really is beautiful. Oh, I took some pictures from another angle - strange how it was my wife who noticed that Thor seemed pleased to see her, but I wouldn't want to publish them for fear that a San Antonio city Council member might try to shut down the rodeo due to the prurient nature of things.Anyway, you aren't allowed to ride Thor but my wife was able to jump on for a little entertainment, if only to experience what it could be like to be a real cowgirl. I on the other hand prefer to stick with things a little more my speed. You know I could eat yard bird everyday of the week, but as healthy as it sounds, I tend to resemble the Pillsbury Doughboy!

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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