There are literally thousands of reasons that millions of people pile into the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo each year. There are the big name concerts that bring the likes of Brad Paisley, Usher, Maroon 5 (Adam Levine!), Keith Urban and Blake Shelton to play to sold out shows (did I mention Adam Levine?). There is the actual rodeo where good looking cowboys and cowgirls rope, race and ride their way to the top of the BP Super Series (think barrel racing, bareback riding, steer wrestling, ). There are the livestock shows that brings thousands of Texas 4-H and FFA students between 9 and 18 to compete at the world’s largest livestock show and the subsequent livestock auctions that bring in millions of dollars in scholarship monies. Think poultry and pigs to school art, lambs and steer, all hoping to win the title of “Grand Champion”. There are hundreds of exhibitors selling every kind of Western item you could ever want or imagine. There is the Carnival and the Parade1 and a livestock birthing center in Agventure. There is so much to see and do during the three weeks each year in which Houstonians turn our city into the beer-swilling, cowboy hat and boots-wearing, two-step dancing it truly is at heart. Let’s be honest, though: the real reason we all brave the pocket-emptying parking lots and bipolar Spring weather is, of course, the food.
The cowboys aren’t the only winners during rodeo. The Gold Buckle Foodie Awards have celebrated the best of Rodeo Houston’s food for the last six years. Local micro-celebrities are invited to judge the Top 8 best of the best of the fair food where they impart their food wisdom for the benefit of all the Carnival-goers. This year’s “Best of the Best” in each of eight categories were:
Best Breakfast: Big stone breakfast sandwich from Stubby’s Cinnamon Roll
Best Value Food: Barbecue baked potato from Triple J’s Smokehouse (for a mere $13)
Best Classic Fair Food: Pulled pork stuffed baked potato from Saltgrass Steakhouse
Best Food on a Stick: Grilled chicken kabob from Saltgrass Steakhouse
Best Fried Food: Fried pie from Kettle Corn
Most Creative Food: Frosty bite lemon cream cupcake from Custom Confections
Best New Taste: Cinnamon roll pancakes from Stubby’s Cinnamon Roll
Best Dessert: Cookie dough parfait from Aunt Edmoe’s
This year, rodeo organizers introduced the genius “I Ate All Eight” — a program where, depending on the number of “Best” foods eaten, the person receives a button (two stamps); a koozie (five stamps); or a t-shirt (all eight!). Sadly, I managed to eat eight foods at this year’s rodeo, but only one from the “Best of” list. Plus, there were two things not on any list, but that sure should be: Fried Peeps (!) from Fried What? and the Fried Pickle Dog from Get Pickled. I guess there’s always next year.
So what did I eat or want to eat? Prepare your eyes and palate for the goodness!
Now that I’m looking back at this, it appears that I ate nothing but sweets for three weeks. No one would argue I have a sweet tooth, but I also ate a Corn Dog from Fletcher’s and a Corn on a Stick. My waist line is more than thankful rodeo does not start again for another 320 days and now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hit the gym.
1Full disclosure: I’m a member of the HLSR Parade Committee. And it’s the best damn committee in the whole damn rodeo if you ask me.