This is the time of year when Austin’s residents head down to Auditorium Shores for a full, Texan Cowboy Breakfast with all the fixings, the prelude to the Star of Texas Rodeo. Every spring, during the first weekend of March, many Austinites head to the shores of Lady Bird Lake to get a belly full of biscuits and gravy, bacon and sausage, eggs, and various other kinds of grub, including grits and hash browns, and with a full stomach, make plans to attend the rodeo.
This weekend, this extremely exciting event will begin at the fairgrounds: the 72nd Annual Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, which culminates in a livestock auction at the end of March, after weeks of competition, cook-offs and other rodeo-related events, such as the Rodeo Rumble Run and the Chuck Wagon cook-off.
Many well-known performers are scheduled to perform at the rodeo this year, including ropers and riders, country music performers, and even rock and roll bands. This year’s featured acts include country great Randy Travis, musician Jesse McCartney, and comedian Carlos Mencia, as well as Creedence Clearwater Revisited, which is a group comprised of a few original members of Creedence Clearwater Revival plus a few new members, who perform CCR’s greatest hits, among other nationally famous acts.
The Fair and Rodeo also features various competitive events, such as a junior livestock show, a Western arts show, horse races, and the Miss Rodeo Austin pageant and scholarship contest, to name a few. There is also a carnival with all of the usual rides and arcade games, including a ferris wheel, merry-go-round, roller coaster, and unusual rides such as the Crazy Mouse. Prizes can be won at numerous booths and games, and every imaginable type of food and drink is offered as well. Participants can buy single tickets, or wrist bands and daily passes, for as little or as much entertainment as possible for a moderate price.
There are also many commercial exhibits, and with over 300,000 spectators expected to attend the rodeo, these exhibits are a perfect way for vendors and representatives of these commercial ventures to create brand loyalty and a following among local residents.
Rodeo Austin is one of the largest indoor rodeos in the country, and cowboys and cowgirls compete for awards. The Xtreme Bull Riding and Pro Rodeo and Pro Rodeo finals are also very popular, and are held at the middle and the end of the month of March, with many events held at the Travis County Expo Center and Fairgrounds east of Austin on Decker Lane, adjacent to Lake Walter E. Long.
The rodeo was founded in 1938, with the goal of advancing education as well as preserving the Western Heritage of the folks of this area, and in 2008, Dodge was named the official truck of the Austin Rodeo. Also in 2008, the youth auction was moved to the new Long Center for the Performing Arts, a beautiful new city coliseum located on the south of Lady Bird Lake. Also, in 2008, new attendance records were set for the cowboy breakfast, which drew a crowd of 7,000 participants.
In 2007, the Cowboy Classic golf tournament, held at the same time as the rodeo, broke auction sales records with over $300,000 in proceeds going to scholarship funds associated with the rodeo and golf tournament. The event was also broadcast on the internet for the first time, drawing huge numbers of viewers.
There are numerous opportunities for volunteers to give their time and energy to benefit the success of the rodeo as well, and over 2,500 people volunteered their time for the rodeo last year, with many already signed up this year too. So whether you attend as a participant, a spectator, or a volunteer, or all three, be sure to sample the western-themed event and peripheral activities, and enjoy all of the many events, games, sports, dances, music, refreshments, and entertainment.
So this year, take your friends and family to the Star of Texas Rodeo and enjoy the activities of the Old West in modern surroundings, and sample the cuisine and pastimes of the settlers of Travis County and central Texas. You will be glad you did!